Tag Archives: Newcrest Mining

DDH1 drilling contractor debuts on ASX after stellar IPO

DDH1 Ltd has officially commenced trading on the Australian Securities Exchange following an initial public offering last week that saw the drilling contractor secure gross proceeds of A$150 million ($115 million) through the issue of around 40% of its shares.

The IPO proceeds were used to allow existing shareholders to realise part of their investment in the company and to repay company borrowings, the company said. The IPO was one of the largest by a Western Australia-based business in the past decade, according to DDH1.

“The ASX listing marks a significant milestone in the evolution of DDH1, which was established in Perth in 2006 with the vision to create Australia’s premier mineral drilling contractor,” the company said. “Over time, DDH1 has earned the custom of Australia’s premier mining companies through its repeated and meticulous service offering of gathering the critical geological data that supports the decision making in respect of all mining activity through the complete cycle of a mine’s life.”

DDH1 has a portfolio of approximately 102 clients, with a financial year 2020 pro-forma revenue of A$249.8 million. Its earnings are diversified across multiple commodities and geographies, with a client base that includes Newcrest Mining, BHP, Evolution Mining, Gold Fields, Independence Group, Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, Newmont Corp, Ramelius Resources, Rio Tinto, Roy Hill Iron Ore and St Barbara.

It offers both surface and underground drilling services, with diamond coring and reverse circulation rigs on offer.

Sy Van Dyk, DDH1’s Managing Director and CEO, said: “The growth and success of DDH1 to date is testament to the commitment of the whole team, which strives to ensure the safety of all stakeholders while delivering exceptional service to our clients.

“Our long-term client relationships are built on the provision of quality drilling services and a deep understanding of our client’s business needs. The company’s significant market position reinforces the strong levels of industry recognition.”

He concluded: “There is growing demand in the Australian mineral drilling sector for DDH1’s services because of increased exploration, development and production spending by minerals exploration and mining companies. As an ASX-listed company with a strong balance sheet, a committed shareholder base, a disciplined approach to growth and access to capital markets, DDH1 is well positioned to pursue its growth strategy.”

Newmont sets up global centre to promote meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples

Newmont Corp has launched the Newmont Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations as a key part of the company’s aim to promote meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

The centre will be a resource for the company and the mining industry as a way to promote awareness, education and engagement between industry and Indigenous Peoples, the gold miner said.

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer, explained: “Newmont recognises the special connection between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and that mining can affect this connection in some challenging ways. The entire industry has a great opportunity to learn and improve our practices.

“Through the centre, meaningful partnerships will be formed to create a space for dialogue and sharing with the aim of improving outcomes for Indigenous communities around our operations and act as a catalyst for improvement within the mining industry.”

The centre seeks to establish a respected source of dialogue, collective knowledge and experiences in order to improve the company’s practices and contribute in advancing the industry’s approach to engagement with Indigenous communities, Newmont said. It has identified three focus areas and a set of three-year strategic objectives to orient meaningful outcomes. These focus areas are:

  • Partnership and learning network;
  • Respect for customs and culture; and
  • Opportunities for Indigenous People.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, the centre will work collaboratively with the Advisory Council on Indigenous Community Relations, a group of external experts who advise the Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors.

An internal working group comprised of diverse representatives from within Newmont will also share experiences, best practices and identify ways to improve collaboration. The centre will work across all of Newmont’s jurisdictions around the world, the miner said.

Eriez HydroFloat technology to help improve recoveries at Newcrest’s Cadia operation

Eriez Flotation is to supply four HydroFloat® Separators to Newcrest Mining for use in Stage 2 of the miner’s Cadia Valley Operations (Cadia) expansion project in New South Wales, Australia.

This announcement follows the successful delivery, commissioning and ramp up of four Eriez CrossFlow Separators and two HydroFloats as part of the Cadia Coarse Particle Flotation demonstration plant in 2018.

Eriez Flotation Global Managing Director, Eric Wasmund, says: “When Stage 2 of the Cadia Expansion Project is complete, 100% of the Concentrator 1 tailings will be re-treated, significantly improving overall plant recovery for a coarser primary grind.”

The Stage 2 Cadia Expansion project primarily comprises the addition of a second coarse ore flotation circuit in Concentrator 1, using Eriez’s HydroFloat technology, and equipment upgrades in Concentrator 2, Newcrest said back in October. These changes are expected to see plant capacity go from 33 Mt/y to 35 Mt/y, while life of mine gold and copper recoveries could increase by 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively. Alongside this, the company was expecting a A$22/oz ($16/oz) drop in its all-in sustaining costs.

Newcrest is the first mining company to commercialise HydroFloat coarse particle flotation in sulphides and the first
in a tail scavenging application.

Wasmund added: “Eriez has been very fortunate to partner with Newcrest on coarse particle flotation. As partners we have learned many lessons together.”

Eriez-Australia Managing Director, James Cooke, noted: “During the commissioning of the demonstration plant, Eriez and Newcrest Mining worked closely together to perfect the technology. The decision was subsequently made to expand the application.”

Early works kick off for Havieron box cut and exploration decline

Following signoff of the $112 million construction of the box cut, exploration decline and associated surface infrastructure at the Havieron gold project in Western Australia, Greatland Gold, one of the joint venture owners, says early works activities have commenced at the project.

Operated by Newcrest under this JV agreement with Greatland, Havieron has an initial inferred resource of 52 Mt at 2 g/t Au and 0.31% Cu for 3.4 Moz of gold and 160,000 t of copper.

The commencement of early works by Newcrest, as manager of the JV, follows receipt of the necessary regulatory approvals to commence these construction activities.

Gervaise Heddle, Chief Executive Officer of Greatland Gold, said: “The commencement of early works activities at Havieron marks a major milestone for the project and for the company.

“Earthmoving activities to prepare for the construction of the box cut and decline have begun and we will continue to update shareholders as work progresses. In addition, we look forward to advancing the 2021 growth drilling program at Havieron, where mineralisation remains open in multiple directions outside of the initial inferred mineral resource estimate.”

Work is ongoing to finalise the Water Management Plan for the early works program and to progress further approvals and permits that will be required to commence development of any operating underground mine and associated infrastructure at Havieron, Greatland said.

In addition, the development of any underground mine at the Havieron project will also be subject to further studies, board approvals and a positive decision to mine.

Wärtsilä takes on power plant performance contract at Lihir gold mine

Wärtsilä is to help optimise the performance of the Lihir gold mine’s 170 MW power plant, in Papua New Guinea, as part of a 10-year tailored guaranteed asset performance agreement signed with Lihir Gold Ltd, part of Newcrest Mining.

The agreement has shared business case incentives based on key performance indicators (KPIs), which reduce operational cost and enhance power availability, supporting the mine’s production targets, according to Wärtsilä.

The 10-year agreement, worth over €150 million ($183 million), was signed in October and is targeted to take effect from the end of the March quarter. The expected revenues for 24 months of operation, some €20 million, have been included in Wärtsilä’s order book in the December quarter.

Lihir’s 170 MW power plant provides a critical electricity supply to run the operations of the mine. It has 22 Wärtsilä engines, of which the last one was commissioned in 2013.

The incentivised KPIs will lead to an increase in revenue and a reduction in operational cost, according to Wärtsilä, with the partnership enabling Lihir Gold to focus on gold production while Wärtsilä takes care of optimising the power plant performance.

The agreement will also provide the customer with maintenance and parts cost predictability, including a reduction in working capital.

The agreement includes full technical support, real-time monitoring of the equipment from Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres, condition-based maintenance and asset diagnostic reporting, operational advisory support, as well as all planned and unplanned maintenance of the generator sets and auxiliaries. The agreement KPIs with shared incentives are based on fuel and oil consumption and power availability, with the option to adjust these KPIs by mutual agreement should the market change.

Daniel May, Manager – Power, Utilities, Projects & Engineering, Lihir, Newcrest Mining, said: “During the initial market engagement process, it was determined that Wärtsilä’s experience, track record and capabilities in Papua New Guinea made them the best partner to further develop the partnership agreement that has now been signed. This is a flexible solution that delivers incentives and benefits to both parties.”

Henri van Boxtel, Energy Business Director, Wärtsilä Energy, added: “This agreement takes a holistic approach to the plant’s operations and maintenance, and reflects the importance of the strategic partnership between Wärtsilä and the customer. By linking the availability and performance of the power generating plant to the mine’s productivity, we are establishing a flexible and beneficial business case that promotes efficiency and delivers real value over the entire lifecycle of the power plant. We are at the same time aiming to increase the reliability of the electrical supply, which can help raise the mine’s output.”

The total installed base of Wärtsilä’s power generating equipment in a number of projects in Papua New Guinea is 381 MW, of which 170 MW has been supplying power to Lihir Gold.

Newcrest shores up wind energy input at Cadia mine with Tilt Renewables PPA

Newcrest Mining has entered into a 15-year renewable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Tilt Renewables Ltd to secure a significant part of the future projected energy requirements of its Cadia copper-gold mine in New South Wales, Australia.

The PPA, together with the forecast decarbonisation of NSW electricity generation, is expected to deliver a circa-20% reduction in Newcrest’s greenhouse gas emissions and is a significant step towards achieving Newcrest’s target of a 30% reduction by 2030, the miner said.

Tilt Renewables is the owner and developer of the Rye Park Wind Farm, located north of Yass and east of Boorowa in New South Wales. From January 2024, when commercial operations are targeted to commence, Newcrest will contract for around 55% of Rye Park’s planned circa-400 MW output, which is equivalent to more than 40% of Cadia’s projected energy demand from 2024.

Rye Park Wind Farm, which comes with a capital expenditure bill of A$700 million ($530 million), will become the largest wind farm directly enabled by a corporate PPA in Australia, according to Newcrest, and the project is now expected to move from the development stage into financing and construction.

The PPA is conditional on Tilt Renewables achieving financial close for the project and is a contract for difference requiring no upfront capital investment by the miner. “The PPA will act as a partial hedge against future electricity price increases and will also provide Newcrest with access to large-scale generation certificates which it intends to surrender to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” the company explained.

Newcrest Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sandeep Biswas, said: “This new contract secures renewable energy for our Cadia operations, reduces carbon emissions and helps us maintain competitive energy costs.

“This is a critical step in our transition to sustainable energy use at our operations. As part of our Climate Change Policy, released last June, we have committed to a significant reduction in emissions intensity, and this agreement is a major step towards delivering on that objective.”

He concluded: “We continue to explore ways to reduce Cadia’s emissions intensity and our long-term aim is to virtually eliminate Cadia’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we continue to pursue emissions-intensity reduction initiatives at our other operating sites.”

Newcrest, Epiroc and MacLean achieve interoperability first at Cadia East

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations has achieved a world first in mobile equipment interoperability – integrating a remotely operated MacLean water cannon into its Epiroc automation fleet at Cadia East, in New South Wales, Australia.

In 2018, Cadia commenced a loader (LHD) automation trial with Epiroc, with the aim of removing operators from the Cadia East underground environment, while maintaining productivity and performance. The loader trial proved successful and the next phase involved integrating non-Epiroc machinery into the existing automation fleet, Epiroc said.

Cadia’s Mining Innovation & Automation team worked with Epiroc and MacLean to integrate a MacLean water cannon capable of localisation with Epiroc’s traffic management system and safety hardware, so that it could be introduced into the automation safety system.

Water cannons are used for secondary break operations, using high pressure water to release wedged rocks in underground drawpoints.

By integrating the MacLean IQ Series tele-operation system with Cadia’s automation safety system, the water cannon could be safely operated from the surface in a tele-remote capacity, allowing it to work alongside Cadia’s semi-automated loaders, Epiroc said.

The water cannon was trialled and commissioned during July and August and is now in use at Cadia East, according to Epiroc.

Cadia General Manager, Aaron Brannigan, said that integrating the water cannon into Cadia’s automation system has improved the efficiency of the production level and removed human exposure from drawpoints.

“We are constantly pushing the envelope of change in the innovation and technology space,” Brannigan said. “Automated machinery allows for shift in technical capabilities of our workforce, while ensuring we continue to eliminate safety risks from our operation.”

The success of this milestone paves the way for further integration of other key pieces of secondary break equipment into the automation system, according to Epiroc, which added: “This project is part of Newcrest’s ongoing drive to increase its automation and innovation focus on site.”

Vale teams with Komatsu and CMIC on ‘revolutionary’ hard-rock cutting project

Vale, in 2021, is due to embark on a major hard-rock cutting project at its Garson mine, in Sudbury, Canada.

Part of the mechanical cutting demonstration within the CMIC (Canada Mining Innovation Council) Continuous Underground Mining project, it will see the company test out a Komatsu hard-rock cutting machine equipped with Komatsu DynaCut Technology at the mine.

With an aim to access the McConnell orebody, as well as provide a primary case study for CMIC members to learn from, all eyes will be on this Sudbury mine in the June quarter of 2021.

Vale plans to demonstrate the ability to cut rock in excess of 250 MPa; cut at a commercial rate of more than 3.5 m/shift; quantify the cost per metre of operation and start to look at the potential comparison with conventional drill and blast development; assess the health, safety and environmental suitability of the mechanical rock excavation (MRE) process; and gain insight into the potential of an optimised MRE process.

Another Komatsu unit has already been assembled and (by now) is most likely operating at the Cadia underground mine in New South Wales, Australia, operated by Newcrest Mining. Vale will be watching developments here, where a three-month “pre-trial” cutting hard rock will take place.

Vale has laid out a testing plan for its own machine, with the unit set to cut around 400 m for the trial period.

IM had to find out more about this.

Fortunately Vale’s Luke Mahony, Head of Geology, Mine Engineering, Geotechnical and Technology & Innovation for the Global Base Metals Business; and Andy Charsley, Project Lead and Principal Mining Engineer, Technology & Innovation, were happy to talk.

IM: Why do you think industry collaboration is key in the underground hard-rock cutting space, in particular? Why has it been harder to develop and apply this technology in mining compared with other solutions such as automation, electrification and digitalisation?

LM: There are many various OEMs entering the market with hard-rock cutting equipment. All of them approach the problem a little bit differently, so it is difficult for one company to trial all of the options. At the same time, we are trying to leverage these new technologies and processes across the industry for a mechanical cutting type of future. For me, this is essential if we are to get the safety, cost and productivity benefits we need to make some of these new underground mines viable.

Comparing it to automation and electrification shows it is a ‘revolutionary’ concept as opposed to an ‘evolutionary’ one. Automation and electrification are more evolutionary concepts – automating an existing scoop or truck or electrifying it – whereas hard-rock cutting is more revolutionary and transformational in the sector, so industry collaboration is even more important.

IM: Since the project was presented at CMIC’s ReThinkMining Webinar, in June, have you had a lot more partnership interest in the project?

LM: We have seen a few other industry members ask questions and connect regarding this project. Some mining companies, while interested, are a little unsure of how they can get on-board with a project like this. What we have done is to utilise the CMIC consortium to make it the foundation of this collaboration, ensuring it is as easy and efficient as possible to join. Also, we want to cover the key concerns that mining companies have when it comes to collaboration, which CMIC is well aware of and can address.

CMIC is well connected with underground professionals and like-minded companies, and is able to pull in interest and facilitate the collaboration framework.

IM: What has happened to the MRE project timeline since June? Are you still on for receiving the machine in early 2021 to start testing later in the year?

AC: The machine has been assembled and we will mobilise it to Canada in early 2021. All of the underground cutting, in Canada, is scheduled to start in April 2021.

Komatsu have assembled two units – the first unit has come off the assembly line and is about to start trials at Cadia any day now. The second machine has just completed final assembly and will undergo Factory Acceptance Testing in the next few months, while we monitor the initial performance of the first machine. The second machine will come to Canada early next year and, if there are any modifications required, we can carry them out, prior to it going underground.

IM: How has the machine changed from the prototype that was initially deployed at Cadia and shown at MINExpo 2016?

AC: In 2016 and 2018, Komatsu implemented a proof of concept and, after that proof of concept, there was interest from miners to build a full commercial unit – which has happened now.

The prototype was ultimately to test the enabling cutting technology, whereby this element was retrofitted to a medium-sized roadheader for manoeuvrability. What Komatsu has done now is fully embed it into a system more like a continuous miner, which has the cutting arm, ground handling shovel & collector and the rest of the body to put it into a full production, continuous operation. It is now going to be part of the production process, as opposed to just testing the cutting aspect.

IM: Considering the end goal of this project is to evaluate the type and number of applications for which hard-rock cutting is suitable across industry (not just at Garson and the McConnell orebody), why did you select the Komatsu HRCM?

LM: It’s really about the Komatsu DynaCut Technology, which, for us, is an extremely low energy process for cutting the hard rock compared with, say, a TBM.

At the same time, what attracts us is the ability to integrate it with existing infrastructure within our current process at the mine – bolters, trucks, LHDs, etc. It is not about fully redesigning the mine to implement this technology.

This trial is that first step to really prove and understand the Komatsu DynaCut Technology in terms of dealing with cutting our relative hard rock in Sudbury. In that regard, the Komatsu technology provided the best technical opportunities for the conditions at hand.

IM: When the machine gets going in Australia, what hardness of rock will it be cutting in the hard-rock stage? How does this compare with Garson?

LM: Cadia is a rock ranging around 200 MPa, whereas in Sudbury we would be looking around 250 MPa. That’s when you talk about Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS) of the rock.

When you start looking at this undercutting technology, there are a few other aspects you need to consider. This includes rock toughness – the ability to resist a crack when a tensile force is applied, sort of like a jackhammer – and brittleness – how much energy that rock can absorb before it breaks.

Ultimately, we are working with Komatsu to understand how we should adapt an undercutting technology for our mines, and what the key parameters to consider are. At this stage, UCS seems to be the benchmark in the industry, but I think there will be a lot more considerations to come out of this project.

IM: What are the reasons for applying the technology at Garson? Were other areas in Sudbury considered?

AC: The priority for us was to have a shallow, low stress ground environment to start off with. At the same time, these are significant machines that would have to be disassembled if you were going down a shaft, which would be complicated. We have ramp access at Garson which makes things easier.

The other point is that Garson is an operating mine so we have got the facilities that can support the project; everything from removing the rock to ground support, service installation and surface infrastructure.

IM: How widespread do you think hard-rock cutting could be across the underground industry? Could it eventually become a mainstream method to compete with drill and blast?

LM: This is the ultimate question. I would like to say yes, it will become mainstream. It is our intention to really develop and prove that it can not only compete with drill and blast, but ultimately improve on it. This will see, in the future, an application for both mechanised hard-rock cutting and drill and blast.

You are going to need to look at fundamental KPIs such as safety, productivity and the cost associated with that productivity.

The focus now is to mature the cutting technology and start to develop the production or the process that goes with underground development beyond just cutting rock.

When developing around sensitive areas where you require low disturbance, hard-rock cutting will be important, as it will be in highly seismic ground. Then, if the unit cost of operating these machines gets low enough, you can start to assess orebodies that were previously not viable. At the same time, it is an electrified process so enables the industry to accelerate some of the decarbonisation plans for underground mining.

IM: Anything else to add on the subject?

LM: I think it’s fair to say, there will be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to hard-rock cutting. Different OEMs are going to develop and mature solutions and there will be applications for each of them, but we have got a long way to go to really understand that as an industry.

The ultimate goal is to get that industry collaboration between OEMs and industry going to ensure solutions are developed that show a way forward for the sector.

This Q&A will feature in the annual continuous cutting and rapid development focus, soon to be published in the IM November-December 2020 issue. Photo courtesy of Komatsu Mining

Newcrest looks to new FMS, haul truck trays for Red Chris improvements

With gold and copper production dropping and costs increasing, the Red Chris mine, in British Columbia, Canada, is set for a number of improvement initiatives, according to 70% owner Newcrest Mining.

In the company’s September quarter results, Newcrest said Red Chris gold and copper production came in at 12,636 oz and 7,050 t, respectively, during the three-month period. This was down from the 15,440 oz of gold and 8,401 t of copper registered in the June 2020 quarter.

Newcrest said the circa-3,000 oz drop in gold output reflected a higher proportion of lower-grade stockpile material being fed to the mill due to unseasonal rainfall hitting the availability of higher grade ex-pit material.

This lower-grade mill feed adversely impacted recovery rates, partially offset by a 13% increase in mill throughput following process control improvements and a higher proportion of stockpiled material with “characteristics that enabled increased processing rates”, it said.

Red Chris’ all-in sustaining cost of $2,621/oz in the September quarter were significantly up on the $1,536/oz seen in the previous quarter. This was driven by increased sustaining capital expenditure, higher operating costs due to “seasonal benefits allowing increased activities to be scheduled”, together with the impact of a strengthening Canadian dollar against the US dollar and lower copper sales volume, it said. These factors were only partially offset by the benefit of a higher realised copper price.

With one quarter of Newcrest’s 2021 financial year down, the company said it is planning to put in place a number of additional improvements across the site. Included in this is a new fleet management system, the replacement of the conventional Cat 793 truck trays with “high-performance trays” to realise payload benefits, and several throughput and recovery-related projects.

The company has 45,000-55,000 oz of gold and 25,000-30,000 t of copper production slated for Red Chris in its 2021 financial year.

Upon announcing the acquisition of a majority stake in the asset in 2019, Newcrest Managing Director and CEO, Sandeep Biswas, said there was potential to turn the Red Chris orebody into a Tier 1 operation.

It also outlined a two-stage plan to deliver value from the $806.5 million acquisition. This included applying its “Edge transformation approach” to the existing Red Chris open-pit mine and processing plant, and potentially leveraging industry leading mining methods and technology such as block caving, coarse ore flotation and ore sorting.

Capstone considering Eriez HydroFloat tech to boost Pinto Valley performance

Capstone Mining is continuing to leverage innovative, low-cost technology at its Pinto Valley mine in an attempt to further utilise its existing solvent-extraction and electowinning (SX-EW) plant at the Arizona, USA, operation.

In the December quarter of 2019, Pinto Valley commenced a PV3 Optimization project designed to achieve safer, more reliable and higher capacity operations without major investments in new comminution equipment. A goal was set to achieve increased reliability, and higher throughput at maximised copper recovery with lower costs by leveraging new inexpensive technologies.

In its September quarter results, the company provided an update on this project, saying, to October 27, it had spent $17 million as part of its Phase 1 developments. This included crushing and mill equipment replacements, which are 60% complete with full completion expected by July 2021.

As part of its Phase 2 developments, Capstone spent $10 million in conveyor, mill auto controls, cyclone packs and tailings thickener upgrades. These upgrades are planned to be completed by the end of the September quarter of 2021.

On top of this, the miner completed a blast fragmentation optimisation project to target 30% fines (minus-0.5 in) in run of mine feed in the June quarter. In the same quarter, it completed a $300,000 tele-remote Cat D10 Dozer project to increase worker safety for high-risk applications. Another $6 million was spent on new mine equipment to increase efficiency while lowering diesel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other operating costs by $800,000/y. This project was completed in the September quarter.

In terms of its metallurgical innovation, the company continued to use novel catalytic technology developed by Jetti Resources at Pinto Valley, expected to deliver 300-350 MIb of copper cathode over the next 20 years from high-grade mine waste and historic stockpiles at all-in costs under $2/Ib. This technology uses a catalyst on primary sulphide minerals to disrupt the sulphur metal bond of the mineral and allow for a leaching solution to contact the copper. This enables the extraction of the metal to take place unimpeded.

Capstone also made plans to use new reagents to improve worker safety and improve overall metallurgical performance at its molybdenum plant re-start project. This would involve “minimal capital” and completion was targeted by the March quarter of 2021, it said.

Capstone says it is targeting to reach 60,000-63,000 t average daily throughput at Pinto Valley at an 85-90% recovery by 2022-2023. This is 17-30% higher than 2019 performance and is subject to further test work and studies to be completed in the first half of 2021, including tailings management, the company explained.

Added to this, following positive laboratory results on Pinto Valley flotation circuit samples, Capstone and Eriez are planning to commence pilot plant testing of the HydroFloat technology.

The HydroFloat fluidised bed assisted flotation cell has previously proven effective at floating coarse ore particles, up to two to three times the size limit of conventional flotation cells in commercial applications such as at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley operation in Australia. Newcrest has recently decided to expand the use of this technology at the operation.

Capstone says the lab results at Pinto Valley had led Eriez to report an opportunity to reduce copper losses by up to 50%, thereby boosting overall recovery by up to 6% at Pinto Valley.

“Furthermore, the ability to recover coarse particles could allow for higher mill throughput while achieving high copper recovery,” Capstone said.

Other benefits could be lower grinding costs, lower water and energy consumption and increased tailings stability via coarser tailings.

Pilot testing is due to commence in November with results expected back in the March quarter of 2021.

Lastly, work on PV4 expansion scenarios to take advantage of around one billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources at 0.30% Cu continued during the September quarter.

“Given management’s confidence in PV3 Optimization progress to date, including the successful implementation of the novel catalytic technology from Jetti Resources to enhance leaching performance, Capstone has decided to evaluate expansion scenarios using existing assets rather than building new mill infrastructure,” the company said.

The study is assessing higher mining rates, higher cutoff grades to the mill, and an increased tonnage available for leaching.

While a significant mill expansion is not currently being contemplated, an expansion of Pinto Valley’s SX-EW capacity of 25 MIb/y may be necessary, it said. Extensive column leach test work will be conducted over 2021, with the overall PV4 expansion study expected to be released in 2022, Capstone added.