Tag Archives: Manitoba

Hudbay’s Constancia continuous improvement quest leads to MineSense XRF trial

Hudbay Minerals has one of the lowest cost per tonne copper sulphide operations in Peru on its hands at Constancia, but it is intent on continuously improving the mine’s margins and environmental performance through a commitment to continuous improvement. This has recently led it to exploring the potential of sensor-based ore sorting.

Hudbay’s operations at Constancia include the Constancia and Pampacancha pits, an 86,000 t/d ore processing plant, a waste rock facility, a tailings management facility and other ancillary facilities that support the operations.

The company increased reserves at the mine, located in the Cusco department, by 33 Mt at a grade of 0.48% Cu and 0.115 g/t Au last year – an increase of approximately 11% in contained copper and 12% in contained gold over the prior year’s reserves.

With the incorporation of Pampacancha and Constancia North, annual production at Constancia is expected to average approximately 102,000 t of copper and 58,000 oz of gold from 2021 to 2028, an increase of 40% and 367%, respectively, from 2020 levels, which were partially impacted by an eight-week temporary mine interruption related to a government-declared state of emergency.

Constancia now has a 16-year mine life (to 2037) ahead of it, but the company thinks there is a lot more value it can leverage from this long-life asset and it has been looking at incorporating the latest technology to prove this.

In recent years it has, for instance, worked with Metso Outotec to improve rougher flotation performance at Constancia using Center Launders in four e300 TankCells and installed a private LTE network to digitise and modernise its open-pit operations.

Peter Amelunxen, Vice President of Technical Services at Hudbay, said the Constancia ore sorting project – which has seen Hudbay partner with MineSense on a plan to trial the Vancouver-based cleantech company’s ShovelSense X-ray Fluorescence (XRF)-based sorting technology – was one of many initiatives underway to further improve the operating efficiency at Constancia.

“The ore sorting program is separate from the recovery uplift program at Constancia,” Amelunxen said, referring to a “potentially high-return, low capital opportunity” that could boost milled copper recovery by 2-3%.

He added: “The ore sorting program is expected to yield positive results at the mining phase of the operation and is expected to increase the mill head grade and reduce metal loss to the waste rock storage facility.”

Back in April 2021 during a virtual site visit, Hudbay revealed it was trialling bulk sorting at Constancia as one of its “optimisation opportunities”, with Amelunxen updating IM in mid-January on progress.

Hudbay has previously evaluated particle sorting at its Snow Lake operations in Manitoba – with the benefits outlined in a desktop study “muted” given “bottlenecks and constraints”, Amelunxen said – but, at Constancia, it considered XRF sorting from the onset for copper-grade only pre-concentration, due to its perception that this application came with the lowest potential risk and highest probability of success.

The company has a three-phase evaluation process running to prove this, with phase one involving a “bulk sorting amenability study”, phase two moving up to laboratory-scale testing and phase three seeing trials in the field.

The “bulk sorting amenability study” looked at downhole grade heterogeneity to estimate curves of sortability versus unit volume, Amelunxen detailed. Laboratory testing of drill core samples to evaluate the sensor effectiveness was then carried out before an economic analysis and long-range-plan modelling was conducted.

With the concept and application of bulk sorting having cleared all these stage gates, Hudbay, in November, started pilot testing of XRF sensors on a loader. This involved fitting a ShovelSense unit onto the 19 cu.m bucket of a Cat 994H wheel loader, with around 20 small stockpiles of “known grades” loaded onto the bucket and dispatched into a feeder and sampling system (pictured below, credit: Engels Trejo, Manager Technical Services, Hudbay Peru). With this process completed, the company is now awaiting the results.

At a similar time, the company moved onto demonstration trials of a “production” ShovelSense sensor unit on the 27 cu.m bucket of a Hitachi ECX5600-6 shovel operating in one of the pits. It has collected the raw spectral data coming off this unit since the end of November, with plans to keep receiving and analysing sensor data through to next month.

“We should have the finalised XRF calibration in February, at which time we’ll process the raw data collected during the three-month trial period and compare it with the short-term mine plan (ie grades of ore shipped),” Amelunxen said. “So, by the end of February or early March, we’ll be able to validate or finetune the economic model.”

Should the results look favourable, Amelunxen is confident that leasing additional sensors and installing them on the other two Hitachi ECX5600-6 shovels will not take long.

Credit: Engels Trejo, Manager Technical Services, Hudbay Peru

“Plans may change somewhat as the program unfolds,” he said. “For example, we may have success sorting ore, but feel additional calibration is required for waste sorting at Pampacancha, in which case we may install production sensors on Constancia ores while doing another trial program at Pampacancha.

“It all depends on the precision of the XRF calibration.”

Higher head grades and potentially higher copper recoveries may be the headline benefits of using ore sorting technology, but Hudbay is equally focused on obtaining several key environmental benefits, including reduced consumption of energy and water.

On the latter, Amelunxen said: “This is expected due to the processing of less ‘waste’ by removing uneconomic material earlier in the process and reducing the hauling and processing costs of the uneconomic material.”

Looking even further forward – past a potential commercial implementation of XRF-based ore sorting at Constancia – the company plans to evaluate the application of other sensors, too.

“For our future development copper project in Arizona, we plan to look at other sensors as well,” Amelunxen said, referencing the company’s Rosemont asset.

This ore sorting project is not the only project the processing team at Constancia are examining, as Amelunxen already hinted at.

As part of the recovery uplift project, it is installing equipment that will allow the operation to increase the overall mass recovery of the roughers, which is currently constrained by the downstream pumps and cleaning circuit.

“This will allow us to achieve an expected 2-3% increase in copper recoveries without impacting concentrate grade,” Amelunxen said.

It has various initiatives underway under the “Moly plant improvement projects” banner, too. This includes flowsheet optimisation, pH control in the cleaners and pH reduction in the bulk cleaners.

“This project has been in the works since late 2019, and the new mechanical agitator installation in the cleaning cells was completed during the August 2021 schedule mill maintenance shutdown and the new nitrogen plant was commissioned in the second half of the year,” Amelunxen explained. “The next steps are pH control in the cleaners (with CO2), water balance optimisation and potentially installing a Jameson flotation cell as a pre-rougher (the cell is already on site and not in use, it will be repurposed pending results of the pH trials).”

A flotation reagent optimisation study is also on the cards, aimed at reducing zinc and lead contamination in the copper concentrate.

“A depressant addition system is on the way to site and should be installed in February, with plant trials commencing in March,” Amelunxen said, explaining that this followed laboratory test work completed in 2021.

Certified Mining & Construction Sales & Rentals to represent Aramine in western Canada

Certified Mining & Construction Sales & Rentals has become the exclusive distributer for Aramine for Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta in Canada.

This partnership will bring cutting edge, battery-powered, heavy-duty equipment and parts to the mining industry in western Canada, the company says.

Certified Mining & Construction Sales & Rentals (CMC) is a Saskatoon-based sales and rental company that offers specialised equipment to the mining and construction industries in North America.

The company says: “This partnership with Aramine will only serve to build on both the rental options and the offering for the sales side. With Aramine’s offering on the battery-powered, mine-specific heavy equipment, we will be able to partner with our clients to work towards lowering emissions without lowering productivity.”

Aramine has designed an innovative and unique range of small and medium section machines, including the L140B battery-powered mini loader.

Major Drilling’s drilling dominance aim strengthened with new Manitoba office

Major Drilling has opened a new office in Manitoba, Canada, as it looks to expand its contract drilling services and streamline its operations.

Completed at the end of 2020, the new 29,000 sq.ft (2,694 sq.m) operations head office houses an enlarged maintenance shop, parts warehouse and administrative offices. It also includes a 3.2 ha storage yard.

“We are proud of our long history in Manitoba,” Barry Zerbin, General Manager of Canadian Operations, said. “With our expanded space in Winnipeg, we can better serve our clients throughout the country and continue the specialised drilling results we are known to deliver.”

The new building stands over 8.5 m tall among developments inside the ‘CentrePort’ 8,094 ha inland port and foreign trade zone. The zone is home to North America’s largest tri-modal World Trade Center located in Rosser, part of the Winnipeg metro area, Major Drilling says.

The CentrePort campus positions Major Drilling well logistically. The geographic centre of Canada is mere kilometres from the new building where the shop, maintenance, and support staff supply crews, drills and parts across the country. The new building adds to the already strong and established framework of Major Drilling branches and shops throughout Canada including locations in Flin Flon, Sudbury, Rouyn, Timmins and Yellowknife, the company says.

The new Winnipeg location services Major Drilling’s Canadian operations with 24 offices for administration office staff, the human resources, safety and operations departments, and country managers. The maintenance team, with over a dozen employees, is housed in a 743 sq.m shop containing four full-sized bays with over 7.5 m in ceiling clearance to service all rig types in the Major Drilling fleet. The warehouse team works in a 650 sq.m facility containing inventory and spare parts. The building can also accommodate in-house training schools for additional crews coming aboard to meet client needs.

From left to right: the new Winnipeg branch location includes an 743 sq.m shop containing four full-sized bays with high ceiling clearance to service all rig types in the Major Drilling fleet; 24 offices for administration office staff; and a 650 sq.m foot facility containing inventory and spare parts

Zerbin says the expanded space allows the Winnipeg Branch to service Major Drilling’s clients in the province which include Hudbay Minerals in Flin Flon/Snow Lake; Vale in Thompson; 1911 Gold in Bissett; and Yamana Gold in Monument Bay. It also increases capacity for clients across Canada such as Foran Mining, Nighthawk Gold Corp and Sabina Gold & Silver.

Manitoba is a long-established operations area for Major Drilling. In 1998, the company completed the acquisition of the Midwest group of companies in Canada, which operated for more than 70 years of in central Canada and the Arctic. Midwest was one of the largest drilling companies in Canada with over 115 drills (80 surface, 35 underground).

The new Winnipeg office is opening just as the mining industry enters a projected upcycle in activity, according to Major Drilling.

“In 2021, Major Drilling continues its strategy of dominating specialised drilling across the globe,” the company said.

Snow Lake, DRA and Steinert investigate ore sorting at lithium project

Snow Lake Resources is the latest company to eye up ore sorting to reduce costs and increase productivity, with the exploration company asking DRA Global to come up with an effective strategy for its Thompson Brothers lithium project, in Manitoba, Canada.

Brent Hilscher of DRA will be in charge of this ore sorting project, examining the best laser or X-ray method to help separate out waste material from the spodumene pegmatite at Thompson Brothers, thereby increasing the overall grade of the final product at a low cost per tonne.

Snow Lake has collected 120 scoping samples from the company’s drill core library as part of this test work, with these samples to be sent to Steinert in Kentucky, USA, for analysis.

The company also created four bench test “bulk samples” from the existing core library, which will be used as trial material at Steinert on a full-scale ore-sorting machine once DRA Global concludes the appropriate algorithm for sorting, it said.

As part of the ore-sorting strategy, the company says it will need a higher degree of understanding of the mineral assemblage of the spodumene pegmatites at its project.

The company has, so far, collected nine core samples from the company’s core library and left them with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) in Saskatoon, Canada. These samples will go through QEM-SCAN petrography analysis at SRC, providing DRA with a report on the mineral assemblage of the pegmatite.

From the nine samples, the company will select three samples for microprobe analysis of the various mineral phase.

Snow Lake said: “These studies will give the company an understanding of the mineral chemistry of the feldspar phases. This will help support the X-ray sorting works, as there may be a chemical element that the X-ray sorter can focus on to eliminate the feldspars from the spodumene pegmatite feed.”

As part of a bulk sample program for 2020, the company will also provide samples to SRC to conduct acid–base accounting testing to help assess the acid-producing and acid-neutralising potential of rocks prior to large-scale excavations at the project.

Snow Lake is expecting to publish a maiden indicated resource on the Thompson Brothers project in the near term, given that the company, its consultants and external laboratories have all the data in hand for the study.

BacTech, GMR, Dundee Sustainable Technologies to revisit Snow Lake gold project

BacTech Environmental, GMR and Dundee Sustainable Technologies are joining together to develop a potential solution for the remediation of the gold residual stockpile in Snow Lake, Manitoba.

As part of this effort, BacTech has signed a letter of intent with GMR to license its proprietary bioleach technology.

Through this agreement, BacTech received a C$20,000 ($14,689) cash payment as an advance on the right to use the bioleach technology on the project. In addition, BacTech will earn 3% undivided equity interest in the net income of the project.

This proprietary bacterial oxidation technology liberates precious and base metals from difficult-to-treat sulphide ores and concentrates, according to BacTech. This is a safe and environmentally-friendly process that has the advantage of improving metal recovery at significantly lower capital and operating costs when compared with traditional treatment methods of smelting, roasting and pressure oxidation, the company said.

BacTech said: “GMR is relying on BacTech’s historical research conducted in 2011-12 that showed oxidation rates of 95% and gold recovery of 88.6% on material obtained from the arsenic stock pile.”

It added: “Due to a lack of iron in the stockpile the residual material could not be stabilised and was abandoned.”

Ross Orr, CEO of BacTech, said: “Our return to Snow Lake is predicated on Dundee Sustainable Technologies providing a solution to the unstable arsenic product we generated in our earlier work that killed the project. The stockpile has a deficiency in iron leading to an unstable ferric arsenate product after bioleaching. By passing this unstable material to be vitrified, the arsenic can be safely disposed. We look forward to re-engaging in the Snow Lake project.”

David LeClaire, the CEO of GMR, said: “BacTech’s historic work on the project and its proprietary bioleach technology, teamed with DST’s vitrification technology, is a promising solution to the remediation of a longstanding environmental concern of the community of Snow Lake without cost to the taxpayer.”

The project consists of a stockpile of arsenopyrite concentrate proven to contain residual gold and silver. BacTech drilled and assayed the stockpile, which is currently the responsibility of the Government of Manitoba, in 2011 and produced a NI 43-101 report.

Current measured mineral resource estimates were generated in 2012 by BacTech estimating the Snow Lake concentrate stockpile contains 264,596 t grading 9.76 g/t Au and 2.17 g/t Ag. In addition, indicated resource estimates include 9,300 t grading 9.2 g/t Au and 2.15 g/t Ag, and an inferred mineral resource came in at 28,000 t at 7 g/t Au and 2.4 g/t Ag.