Tag Archives: Éléonore

Newmont’s Canada mines hit wireless initiation milestone with Oricas WebGen

Newmont has continued to leverage the benefits of fully wireless initiation in its blasting process, having initiated its 500th blast using Orica’s WebGen™ system at its Canada mines.

The milestone was achieved at three of its underground mines in Canada, which are blasting with WebGen. Each site uses different mining methods, and all have achieved improved performance and safety in their overall mining processes with the implementation of innovative WebGen-enabled mining techniques, Orica says.

“The key to Newmont’s success was its ability to think differently and to take advantage of pre-charging with ‘no strings attached’,” the company added. “Eliminating the physical connections to each blasthole and the need for re-entry allowed the blasting sequence to be arranged for optimised outcomes.”

The blasting process changes help mines deliver significantly improved ore recovery and has simultaneously reduced interactions, cycle times and rework, according to Orica. WebGen wireless blasting technology is an innovation that enables process change unlike any other, by pre-charging blasts and firing blasts after access to the area is lost, it claimed.

Newmont’s WebGen journey started at the Musselwhite mine in late 2016 following Orica’s launch of the first-generation wireless initiation system, WebGen 100. The Orica technical team identified an opportunity to use the new technology and approached the Musselwhite team with a new concept, the “Temporary Rib Pillar (TRP) Avoca Mining” method.

Over the following months, workshops, detailed design reviews, risk assessments, crew meetings and signal surveys were completed and the first TRP stope was designed and ready to be blasted.

The initial stope was drilled and loaded in November and December 2016 and fired in January 2017.

Over the next year, the Musselwhite and Orica teams continued to use and refine the TRP method.

“As confidence in WebGen 100 increased, the teams explored other opportunities where wireless blast initiation could significantly improve safety and stope performance,” Orica said. “Several other wireless enabled mining methods were developed and evaluated through these collaborative efforts throughout 2017 and 2018.”

The results so far from the WebGen collaboration include a 20% reduction in mucking time, 14% improvement in production tonnes per day and 34% reduction in ore dilution.

Following the success of Musselwhite gold mine, the team from Éléonore Mine approached Orica in late 2018 to explore the possibilities of implementing the WebGen system on-site. The team conducted a two-day face-to-face workshop where the technical and operations teams from Éléonore and Orica met and conducted an in-depth review of Éléonore’s production mining operations.

The workshop ended with a commitment to complete a joint wireless blasting optimisation project, Orica said.

“A project charter was developed, which involved a detailed 10-stope evaluation across various geometries with the primary goal to improving stope recovery,” the company explained.

“Preparation started in early 2019 with detailed design sessions, signal surveys, risk assessments and crew information sessions.”

The first stope blast was loaded in February 2019 and fired in March. The project’s scope was completed by late summer and the project delivered and exceeded all the agreed performance metrics, according to Orica.

Sill pillars at Éléonore represent a challenge for both ground control and drill and blast teams.

“WebGen technology allowed us to safely and efficiently recover side-drilled stopes by greatly reducing worker exposure and stope cycle time,” Ugo Marceau, Drill & Blast Engineer at Newmont Éléonore, said.

Results from the WebGen introduction at Éléonore include an 86% increase in ore recovery, 72% reduction in stope time and 71% increase in drilling rates.

While the Éléonore project was underway, teams from Borden and Orica had already “white boarded” various wireless enhanced stoping scenarios to increase mining efficiency in Borden’s complex geometry.

“The main goals were eliminating as much lateral development and cemented rock fill as possible while maximising ore recovery,” Orica explained. “As with both Musselwhite and Éléonore, signal surveys, risk assessments and crew information sessions were completed to prepare the first stope.”

Borden’s first stope was loaded in early April and fired later that month. Once again, the outcomes from using WebGen exceeded those expected from a conventional approach, according to Orica.

Eric Fournier, Mine Engineering Supervisor at Newmont Borden, said: “Orica have been partners with us from the very beginning. The WebGen team is very professional, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. The technology is great but the people behind it make it happen. WebGen technology allows us to be a safer and a more efficient mine. It removes the need to send people around hazardous conditions that exist after a blast.”

Results from the Borden implementation include 98% actual ore recovery and 17% actual dilution.

Orica concluded: “Wireless-enhanced production mining has been expanded across these three Newmont mines. The WebGen system has proven itself as a reliable initiation system and enables drill and blast engineers to modify existing mining methods for substantial improvements in safety, productivity and cost reduction. This has been an exceptional journey together with Newmont and highlights the results that can be achieved through innovation and collaboration.”

Newmont withdraws 2020 guidance as four mines go into care and maintenance mode

Newmont says it is withdrawing its full-year 2020 guidance after placing four of its operations into temporary care and maintenance mode in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said these actions could see some production deferred into 2021, potentially impacting costs in 2020 if the suspensions continue for an extended period. This meant its guidance of 6.4 Moz of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $975/oz for 2020, given in early January, would no longer stand.

For the March quarter, Newmont said it expected to produce some 1.4 Moz of attributable gold and around 325,000 of “co-product gold equivalent ounces”. Year-to-date through February 29, Newmont had produced around 981,000 oz of attributable gold and some 227,000 co-product gold equivalent ounces, it said.

“Newmont continues to work proactively with logistics partners and refiners to transport and refine product in a challenging environment,” it said. “We are not currently experiencing significant delays in the shipping of concentrate or transportation and refining of doré, but they may occur in the coming days and weeks if certain government-required shutdowns and border restrictions occur.”

Mines representing around 80% of the company’s production outlook for 2020 continue operating in line with production targets for the year, it said. These operations have implemented heightened levels of health screening, along with support services being conducted remotely.

“If at any point the company determines that continuing operations poses an increased risk to our workforce or host communities, we will reduce operational activities up to and including care and maintenance and management of critical environmental systems,” the company added.

Yet, in order to protect nearby communities and align with travel restrictions or health considerations in Argentina, Canada and Peru, four of its operations are being temporarily put into care and maintenance.

“The operations will be positioned so they can safely and quickly resume normal operations once protective measures have been lifted,” the company said.

The operations being placed into care and maintenance mode includ:

  • Musselwhite: Newmont has decided to limit personnel on site to minimise fly-in/fly-out activity to prevent the possible transmission of the virus into communities, including nearby First Nations communities in northern Ontario – essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management and provide security;
  • Eléonore (pictured: Credit Osisko Gold Royalties): Newmont has decided to limit personnel on site to comply with the Quebec government’s restriction on non-essential travel within the province and to prevent the possible transmission of the virus into communities, including nearby First Nations communities – essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management and provide security;
  • Cerro Negro: Newmont will have to limit personnel on site due to the halt of all domestic flights and mass transportation in Argentina through March 31 – remaining on site will be essential personnel to maintain infrastructure, continue environmental management, provide security and continue ground control activities; and
  • Yanacocha: As previously disclosed, mining operations were in the process of safely ramping down due to government travel restrictions in-country, while gold production from leach pads and critical safety, security and environmental management activities continue

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Newmont, said: “Our business continuity plans and rapid response teams have been fully mobilised in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“We are working closely with host communities, First Nations and other indigenous peoples, regional and national governments and health experts to protect our workforce and nearby communities. This includes putting some operations temporarily into care and maintenance while others continue to operate at targeted production levels.

“We are also making sure that these short-term disruptions do not impact long-term business value while ensuring we are well-positioned to safely and efficiently ramp-up operations in a timely manner once the worst of this global pandemic passes.”

Measures taken at Newmont operations and offices globally include:

  • Cancelling all non-essential travel;
  • Enhanced temperature and questionnaire screening at entry points to sites;
  • Establishing flexible and remote working plans for employees;
  • Establishing screening for fly-in-fly-out employees prior to their departures from their home communities;
  • Mandatory self-quarantine for anyone who has travelled internationally or has any flu-like symptoms;
  • Providing logistical and health care support to nearby communities where needed; and
  • Established a global supply chain task force to assess all potential risks and develop viable contingency plans that enable us to stay ahead of any potential supply disruptions.

Howden’s Eleonore ventilation on demand solution wins award

Newmont Goldcorp’s Eleonore gold mine was recently awarded the “Eureka Prize” from Écotech Québec, for a ventilation on demand solution that reflects the Quebec mine’s strive towards leveraging clean technologies.

Nearly 250 stakeholders in the cleantech ecosystem were present at the event.

Éléonore produced some 360,000 oz of gold in 2018 from the underground Roberto deposit. Ore is mined from four horizons using sill and stope techniques, then processed onsite using a conventional circuit that includes crushing, grinding, gravity, flotation and cyanidation.

The award received was for the Ventilation on Demand (VOD) system from Howden VentSimTM CONTROL implemented in the Newmont Goldcorp – Eleonore mine. The benefits of this solution are the energy efficiency and air treatment, according to Howden.

“Newmont Goldcorp – Eleonore is proud to recognise the teamwork that has enabled a project such as VOD to continually improve our energy efficiency performance, while maintaining the health and safety of our workers,” Sophie Bergeron, Executive Director Newmont Goldcorp – Eleonore, says.

To date, there has been a 43% reduction in mine heating costs, a drop of 56% in underground ventilation electricity costs and a remarkable 73% decrease in the cost of surface ventilation electricity, as detailed in the full case study, Howden said.

”While these figures are impressive, the full potential savings will grow even greater when the mine reaches full capacity,” Howden added.

Plan Nord backs Newmont Goldcorp’s 4.0 mine vision at Éléonore gold operation

The Government of Québec, through the Société du Plan Nord, says it will invest C$1.75 million ($1.28 million) to connect Newmont Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine facilities to the existing regional fibre optic network.

“This project will enable one of Quebec’s most innovative mining companies to continue advancing its vision to create mine 4.0, an interconnected mine of the future,” the government said, adding that the connection, which will help optimise the company’s operations, will also increase the quality of life of workers on site and encourage employee retention.

Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord region, made the announcement this week while visiting Éléonore.

As part of this project, 124 km of fibre optic cable will be laid from the Eastmain 1A link to the Éléonore mine. This project, valued at C$3.5 million, will be delivered by the non-profit organisation Eeyou Communications Network (ECN), with the new high-speed connection expected to be operational in 2020.

Julien said: “The mining sector is entering a new era with mine 4.0. Today’s funding will contribute to the Éléonore mine’s competitiveness in the future: access to a reliable and high-performance telecommunications network is fundamental for the industry to modernise. The realisation of this project is excellent news for the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region, but also for the Quebec economy.”

Sophie Bergeron, General Manager, Éléonore Mine, Newmont Goldcorp, said: “This joint investment from our Cree partner, Eeyou Communications Network, and the Société du Plan Nord will connect the mine to a fibre optic network, providing far more bandwidth than we have today, and will support our vision of creating the first 4.0 mine in Quebec.

“With this technology backbone in place, new sustainable and responsible mining developments can consolidate the leadership role Quebec plays in Canada’s mining sector and beyond.”

Éléonore was expected to produce some 360,000 oz of gold in 2018 from the underground Roberto deposit. Ore is mined from four horizons using sill and stope techniques, then processed onsite using a conventional circuit that includes crushing, grinding, gravity, flotation and cyanidation.

The operation has begun to develop a fifth mining horizon and build a production shaft, both of which will bring Éléonore closer to its full production capacity, a key part of the company’s plan to increase production by 20% by 2021.

At Éléonore, all underground workers, vehicles and other heavy equipment are outfitted with radio frequency identification tags that transmit a unique ID number via a Wi-Fi connection to the Cisco access point throughout the mine. Telemetry units integrated into vehicles also monitor the functions and systems in the vehicle’s engine, and issue an alert to mine managers when something needs attention, the company said.

The Société du Plan Nord contributes, from a sustainable development perspective, to the planning and integrated and coherent development of northern Quebec, it says. It does so in consultation with representatives of the regions and indigenous peoples, as well as the private sector.

Goldcorp’s Éléonore gold mine cleans up its act with novel wastewater treatment

The latest winner of Goldcorp’s Global Excellence Awards 2019 to be featured in its online blog is the Éléonore gold mine and a novel system that proved its worth removing ammonia and residual cyanide by-products at the company’s Éléonore gold mine in Quebec, Canada.

Goldcorp said: “For any mining operation, effective wastewater treatment to remove contaminants is an indispensable step needed to minimise environmental impacts and maintain the mine’s social license to operate.

“When elevated concentrations of ammonia and residual cyanide by-products were detected in mill effluent at Éléonore, in 2014, the mill and environmental team took decisive action by introducing a novel wastewater treatment process that rectified the problem and secured Éléonore a Global Excellence Award for Sustainability Stewardship.”

Following Éléonore’s mill start-up in 2014, the new process water bleed (discharge) to water treatment plant (WTP) and paste backfill process resulted in increased concentrations of contaminants in water effluent, according to Goldcorp.

Even though the cause of the ammonia and residual cyanide toxicity couldn’t readily be identified, the Éléonore team immediately notified all major stakeholders, such as the Quebec Environment Ministry, Environment Canada and the Cree Nation Government – Environment Committee of Opinagow Collaboration Agreement, informing them on the extent of the problem and plans to rectify the situation.

France Trépanier, Environmental Coordinator at Goldcorp, said: “From the outset, we wanted to be very open and transparent with key stakeholders on steps we were taking to identify the source of the toxicity and plans to resolve the problem. Through ongoing dialogue and regular reporting, we were able to maintain a collaborative climate and establish strong partnerships based on mutual trust.”

During 2015 and 2016, the Éléonore team developed an action plan, investigated various water treatment options, and executed a series of projects including cyanide detox and leaching circuits optimisation to reduce effluent contamination, the company said.

The team also worked on mill water balance through its zero-bleed project with the objective of reducing contaminant process water discharge to the WTP, which involved reducing fresh water consumption by replacing water-sealed pumps used in the mill with mechanical seal pumps. “These projects increased control of process water contaminant concentration but didn’t resolve toxicity issues,” Goldcorp said.

A consultant working on the toxicity problem recommended the Éléonore team consider zeolite treatment and a Moving Bed Bacteria Reactor (MBBR) system to process wastewater effluent. Zeolite is a mineral well known for its ability to absorb a variety of heavy metals and ammonia. MBBR, more commonly used for municipal water treatment, is an activated bacteria aeration system, where bacteria collected on porous plastic carriers breaks down organic matter from wastewater, according to Goldcorp.

A pilot project found that zeolite treatment removed ammonia but did not eliminate the toxicity. MBBR, on the other hand, could remove ammonia and cyanide by-products delivering non-toxic results at low water temperatures (8°C).

In Spring 2016, the Quebec government granted approval for Éléonore to expand its water treatment plant by adding MBBR treatment while continuing to reduce its process water discharge to reach a zero-bleed operation.

Construction got underway in the fall of 2016, and the MBBR treatment plant was commissioned in May 2017.

“Energy efficiency was one of the critical plant design considerations to minimise heating requirements in winter,” Goldcorp said. “The addition of a heat exchange system and an insulated water circuit ensured that process water could feed the MBBR to keep the bacteria-activated treatment as stable as possible during cold winter months. Now, at the second winter, treatment is achieved without any heating at a temperature around 5°C.”

From concept to completion, Éléonore workers were kept up to date on the project’s progress through regular on-site presentations and stakeholders informed of the mine’s plans through monthly reports, quarterly presentations and site visits, the company said.

Trépanier said: “Consistent communication really enabled us to demonstrate how serious we were about solving this problem, which was essential in helping secure support for this project among stakeholders and regulators.”

Following the MBBR ramp up, Éléonore reduced ammonia and cyanide by-product concentrations in its effluent by more than 90% and was designated 100% in compliance with water quality regulations in October 2017. Since MBBR has been in steady operation, mandatory effluent sampling frequency returned from weekly to monthly.

The Éléonore team recently shared its experience in implementing this novel water treatment technology at a symposium on mining and the environment. Since then, it has received numerous enquiries from other mining companies and have hosted site visits to demonstrate the water treatment process, according to Goldcorp.

“There was a lot of people from different departments working on this project over the last two-and-a-half years,” Trépanier said. “It’s very gratifying to be recognised both externally and by our peers at Goldcorp for a successful outcome. We’re very happy to share what we’ve learned with other mining companies to help improve the industry’s environmental performance.”