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Fura Gems’ Coscuez mechanisation shift sees it invest in Resemin, Epiroc equipment

Fura Gems has completed the transition from artisanal to fully mechanised mining at its 76%-owned Coscuez mine, with a new mining fleet now working underground at the Colombia operation.

Following declaration of an NI 43-101 inferred mineral resource at Coscuez last year, which included a 3 Mt total grading 2 ct/t for 6 Mct contained, the company started working on a mechanisation plan.

This mine mechanisation program started in August 2019 and saw three underground declines developed from the main LAPAZ level to intersect the inferred resource body in the Santana, Ayata and the Miguel sectors.

The full program was completed in January 2020 and saw the company acquire modern equipment suitable for narrow vein-mining to increase mining capacity as compared with 2018, it said.

The new mining mechanised fleet includes a total of 12 mini-dumpers, with 4 t and 2 t capacities, one electrohydraulic jumbo drilling machine, three LHDs and three tractors, each of which are currently operational on site.

“With this addition, the Coscuez team has reduced manual drilling and eliminated manual loading and hauling operations,” the company said.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed to IM that the mini-dumpers, jumbo and at least one LHD are from Resemin, while another LHD was from Epiroc.

Another improvement the company introduced in 2019 was the implementation of a new active support system consisting of cement-grouted rock bolts, split sets, wire mesh, and shotcrete layers instead of the traditional passive rock support system based on timber sets.

These improvements helped the company mine a total of 31,963 t during 2019, representing a 109% increase on 2018’s mined total, Fura said.

Furthermore, two international consultants, Bisa and MiningOne, have been retained to complete two technical studies at Coscuez.

The first study is a geotechnical study for rock support and mining methods for different types and rock qualities, while the second study is focused on the design of current and mid-term mine ventilation system.

On top of acquiring mobile mining equipment, Fura, in 2019, installed a new 10 t/h pilot washing plant to help the washing process at Coscuez transition away from manual washing to a much more efficient process.

A new commercial washing plant with projected capacity of 100 t/h is currently being designed and is expected to be commissioned by the December quarter, it added.