Tag Archives: Ontario

Drilling innovation directs Alamos to golden goods at Island

John A McCluskey, President and CEO of Alamos Gold, tends to look forward, not back, when talking about strategic decisions the Toronto- and New York-listed miner has made during his 18 years heading up the company.

When discussing the acquisition of Richmont Mines, which included the flagship Island Gold Mine asset in Ontario, he allows himself a brief rumination on the market’s first impressions of the deal: “We acquired the asset for around $620 million in November of 2017. The consensus view in the market was we had overpaid for the asset.”

That consensus view considered 1.8 Moz of mineral reserves and resources and production around the 100,000 oz/y mark, among other factors.

“In less than three years, we had Island over the 4 Moz reserve and resource threshold – we’re now nearer to 5 Moz – and the consensus valuation for the asset from analysts covering us is around $1.4 billion.”

That new valuation factors in a production rise – the company is anticipating gold output of 130,000-145,000 oz this year – and long-term growth prospects for the asset. The latter is evidenced by an Island Phase Three Expansion study published last year that envisaged a 2,000 t/d operation (currently 1,200 t/d) able to produce 236,000 oz/y starting in 2025.

While McCluskey says the company was aware of these growth prospects back in November 2017, most market observers will be surprised they have been proven up so quickly after the Richmont Mines transaction.

They probably underestimated what the use of surface directional drilling could do at Island.

Originally leveraged by Richmont Mines’ Chief Geologist and now Island Gold Chief Geologist, Raynald Vincent, back in 2015, the exploration technique has allowed Alamos to successfully step out from and infill holes Richmont and predecessors previously drilled.

Scott R.G. Parsons, VP of Exploration for Alamos, says surface directional drilling, in combination with the exploration team’s understanding on the controls on gold mineralisation at Island and Alamos’ financial backing for exploration, has helped the company grow the asset rapidly.

“The significant resource and reserve growth at Island in the last three years – adding 3 Moz net of 500,000 of mining depletion – was largely driven by surface directional drilling,” he told IM. “We could not have moved the asset forward in such a significant way without it.”

The use of what Parsons says are “standard” surface drill rigs and Devico’s DeviDrill™ steerable wireline core barrels are allowing the company to hit mineralisation far below the mine’s existing underground infrastructure. The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods. At the same time, no time is lost on moving the drill rig between branch holes, as the core barrel can be steered from surface to complete the optimal drill patterns.

The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods (photo: Devico)

The company has drilled 240 surface directional drill holes at Island for about 200,000 m of drilling using only 27 drill sites, Parsons explained.

“Using conventional surface drilling, the 240 holes would have required significantly more drill sites,” he said.

This would have involved moving the rig more frequently, making the process that much slower and expensive.

Instead, thanks to this directional drilling technique, the company is sitting on an additional 3 Moz of gold resources and reserves garnered in the last three years. This has come with a discovery cost of just $11/oz.

Accuracy, as Devico indicated, is another benefit of this technology.

“Surface directional drilling is not only more effective than standard drilling practices, but we can hit our targets with 1% accuracy,” Parsons added. “So, if we’re drilling a 1,500 m hole, we can typically intersect our target within 15 m from plan, 1,500 m downhole. This predictable drilling spacing is critical for defining a mineral resource with the appropriate confidence level.

“You’d never be able to do that with standard surface drilling.”

This technique is not a silver exploration bullet, though. According to Parsons, it does not work everywhere.

“It really all hinges around the quality of the orebody and our understanding of the deposit and the controls and the mineralisation,” he said. “Knowing we require a certain drill spacing to be able to define inferred mineral resources, we strategically target the down-plunge extensions of the ore shoots.”

At Island, these ore shoots – which are the high-grade portions of the deposit – are laterally extensive in the lateral and vertical sense, Parsons explained.

“With the surface directional drilling, we are able to specifically target these down-plunge extensions,” he said. “With one or two pilot holes and branch patterns, we can evaluate a large area down-plunge and along strike of the existing mineral reserves and resources. In some cases, other gold deposits can have ore shoots that are less predictable, or are not as extensive, so it would be a challenge to apply surface directional drilling without having a strong understanding of the controls of these shoots for targeting.”

And, it should not be forgotten, it requires an investment in exploration that goes beyond simply reserve and resource replacement on an annual basis. Richmont, a much smaller company, was unable to bankroll such a strategy.

Alamos has made a commitment to do this, as evidenced in the 16-year mine life outlined in the Island Phase III study and the $25 million it intends to invest in exploration this year.

The use of surface directional drilling looks set to continue paying off beyond this study, with the company recently drilling its best-ever hole to date by leveraging the technique.

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – in addition to MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m) have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them (photo: Alamos Gold)

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – is the hole in question. This hole, in addition to the previously reported MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m), have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them. This, the company said, demonstrates the zone has widened in this area, providing even further potential beyond the company’s current growth plans.

“That one – MH25-08 – is the best drill hole ever drilled at Island,” Parsons said. “And that is after 1.3 million metres of drilling and over 7,000 drill holes dating back nearly 100-years.

“That speaks to the potential of this deposit to continue to grow through exploration, and also highlights the prospectivity of the Michipicoten Greenstone Belt.”

More to come

With 27,500 m of surface directional drilling scheduled for 2021 – and only 6,683 m carried out as of May 31 – more of these high-grade intercepts could soon come to the fore.

And Parsons says the company can continue to use surface directional drilling some 500 m below where it is currently drilling down to at Island.

On top of that, the company, having established the necessary underground exploration infrastructure, is equipping its underground drill rigs at Island for directional drilling, with 24,000 m of underground directional drilling planned this year (3,233 m completed as of the end of May).

“This is allowing us to reduce our cost per metre compared with surface directional drilling and allowing us to drill more targets in a shorter amount of time,” Parsons said. “We will continue applying directional drilling technology as long as the orebody is continuing at depth to drill off those ore shoots.”

At Young-Davidson, the company’s other core asset in Ontario, Canada, the company is also making plans to use underground directional drilling.

“One of our plans going into 2022 is to evaluate opportunities to utilise directional drilling from underground exploration drifts established in lower and mid mines at Young-Davidson to target mineralisation down-plunge at depth,” Parsons said.

More broadly, Parsons thinks the company’s exploration team can leverage their understanding of the technology at other assets.

“For us, it is a competitive advantage,” he said. “With a solid geological understanding of the deposit you are looking at and an understanding of the application and the benefits of directional drilling, we can recognise opportunities of what could be occurring at depth where others might not see potential until well into the future after underground infrastructure is established at depth.”

There are obvious cost, time and accuracy benefits to using directional drilling, yet there is another benefit that may get lost along the way.

Without the need to constantly move the surface drill rigs between drill pads, the footprint of these rigs is reduced.

McCluskey says the technology has brought another ESG advantage to Island too.

By being able to quickly drill off more targets and convert these into the resource base, Alamos has been able to think long term with its Island Gold Phase III Expansion and justify the expense of a shaft and paste backfill plant.

This comes with a 35% reduction in emissions compared with using the mine’s existing ramp and diesel-powered truck haulage, he said, explaining that much of the Ontario grid is powered by renewable hydroelectricity.

“This technology has given us the exploration success that has been converted into scale and allowed us to think longer term and afford the infrastructure to make it a ‘greener’ operation,” he said.

With such a long list of benefits, more companies will be looking at directional drilling to prolong the life of their assets and make long-term decisions that make economic and sustainable sense.

Evolution enlists RCT and its Guidance Automation tech to transform Red Lake gold mine

Evolution Mining has selected RCT and its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation technology to help “transform” its new Red Lake mine in Ontario, Canada.

Evolution has embarked on a three-year investment strategy to restore the newly acquired Red Lake mine to a safe, highly efficient, long life and low-cost operation providing strong value for shareholders. This followed its acquisition of the operation from Newmont in November 2019 in a deal that could eventually rise to $475 million.

RCT has previously worked with Evolution Mining on transitioning its Mungari operations in Western Australia’s Goldfields region to its fully-autonomous technology solution.

To assist in the Red Lake turnaround strategy, RCT will commission its interoperable and scalable ControlMaster Guidance Automation technology to the underground loader fleet.

RCT says it is working closely with Red Lake’s leadership team to seamlessly integrate the new technology to enable greater productivity efficiencies to support Evolution Mining’s transformation strategy.

“The technology will unlock significant value for Evolution Mining by ensuring optimal machine performance, higher speed autonomous tramming, and reduced machine damage,” RCT said. “The technology will deliver faster production cycle times and reduced unplanned downtime across the loader fleet.”

The loaders will be controlled from either the surface-based ControlMaster Automation Centre or the customised underground Automation Centres designed specifically for easier transfer via the mine shaft hoist system.

This solution safeguards machine operators by relocating them away from hazards commonly found at the mine face and significantly reduces shift handover times, lowering overhead costs and resulting in greater site efficiencies, RCT said.

Kirsty Liddicoat, Red Lake General Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with RCT to introduce modern technologies to Red Lake as part of our transformation process. RCT equipment will enable higher productivity and efficiencies from our underground scoop fleet, while improving safety for our people.”

RCT’s Mining Business Development Manager, Ryan Noden, said ControlMaster is an ideal solution to help deliver the operational transformation that is aligned to Evolution Mining’s Red Lake strategy.

“The advanced features of the ControlMaster Automation technology means Red Lake will be able to quickly achieve improved production efficiencies from its loader fleet, with a greater level of safety for its operators,” he said. “Red Lake will also benefit from selecting a truly interoperable technology provider that can collaborate closely with them to realise further mobile equipment automation opportunities as further optimisation of the asset is achieved.”

Noden added: “RCT has a proud history of delivering value to the Canadian mining sector and we look forward to continually delivering to them with our cutting-edge technology backed by our dedicated in-country support team based at the company’s facility in Sudbury, Ontario.”

Evolution’s vision is to restore Red Lake to be one of Canada’s premier gold mines sustainably producing 300,000-500,000 oz/y of low-cost gold, Jake Klein, Evolution’s Executive Chairman, has said.

Metso Outotec to supply Vertimills, cone crusher to IAMGOLD’s Côté project

Metso Outotec is to supply key comminution technology to IAMGOLD Corporation and Sumitomo Metal Mining’s joint venture Côté gold project, in north-eastern Ontario, Canada.

The delivery consists of two energy-efficient Vertimill® 4500 grinding mills (pictured) and one MP1250 cone crusher for the Côté gold project.

Andy Lingenfelter, Vice President, Minerals Sales, North & Central America, Metso Outotec, said: “Low energy and wear part consumption, as well as process flexibility, were decisive factors for the Côté gold project team when selecting the comminution equipment.

“Metso Outotec was consulted during the prefeasibility study and supported IAMGOLD on several projects. IAMGOLD’s technical team had solid confidence in the Vertimill technology, and they were also familiar with the high-performance capability of the MP crushers.”

The value of the order exceeds €10 million ($11.9 million) and has been booked in Minerals’ March quarter 2021 orders received.

Côté comes with estimated contained gold reserves of over 7 Moz. Construction of the gold mine commenced in late 2020, and is expected be completed in mid-2023.

MacLean reinforces shotcrete ops with new EV sprayer, transmixer

MacLean Engineering has become renowned for its battery-electric equipment in the last four-to-five years, having announced its electrified plans at MINExpo 2016, and steadily upped its offering in line with industry demand.

Yet, it is not the only company in its field backing battery-powered production support developments underground.

Recognising the same trend that led to MacLean initiating its EV Series program in 2015, its competitors have also looked to electrify their own diesel-powered units.

Few of them to this point have clocked up the same amount of operating hours on battery that MacLean can boast; even fewer of them have gone beyond the limits of their diesel-powered predecessors with the adoption of new opex-enhancing technology and safety additions.

The company is now leveraging this experience with the launch of a new shotcrete-transmixer combination that, MacLean says, will make it the only OEM able to offer fully electrified, articulated shotcrete operations purpose-designed for underground mining applications.

Jonathan Lavallee, Product Manager – Shotcrete Equipment, got IM up to speed with developments.

“The SS5 battery-electric shotcrete sprayer is now mechanically complete,” he said ahead of the launch today. “We’ve tested it at our underground test mine and it has exceeded our expectations.”

Filling out an offering of shotcrete sprayers that includes the diesel-powered SS2 and SS3 machines, the battery-powered SS5 shotcrete unit is close to 7 ft (2.13 m) wide and is the first-ever MacLean sprayer to have a forward-facing cab for a better view of shotcreting operations from inside the cab.

In addition to a better view, the shift from mid-ship to forward-facing cab has also aided with placing the batteries and the EV components on the rear side of the machine to ensure rebound dust and particulates from shotcrete operations are not getting inside the EV components, Lavallee said.

Alongside this machine will be the 2.59-m-wide battery-powered TM3 concrete transmixer, which is based on a diesel-equivalent machine already on the market and will serve the SS5’s shotcrete needs.

Like all of MacLean’s EV Series machines, the SS5 sprayer will be able to tram on battery and connect to the power infrastructure within the mine for spraying.

This might not be all, according to Lavallee.

“Depending on the size of your heading, the battery re-generation capability on site and the air quality/quantity, there could be an option to shoot on pure battery,” he said.

Testing at the MacLean Research and Training Facility in Sudbury saw the prototype machine complete two full mixer trucks worth of shotcrete – roughly 12 cu.m – while still having enough battery power remaining to conduct a thorough wash down and washout of the equipment and tram to the nearest point of recharge, according to Lavallee.

While there was no on-board compressor fitted to this prototype – with the machine using mine air at the test facility – Lavallee is confident the commercial unit will provide the option of spraying off battery for parts of a mine where power services have not yet been established.

“Depending on the size of your heading, the battery re-generation capability on site and the air quality/quantity, there could be an option to shoot on pure battery [with the SS5],” Jonathan Lavallee says
There is more to the SS5 than battery-powered operation alone, which Lavallee, a man with shotcrete experience at Oyu Tolgoi, Grasberg, Outotec and GCP Applied Technologies, is keen to talk up.

Fitted with a “first of its kind” automatic accelerator dosing system and the company’s Auto Doser platform, Lavallee says the machine will allow operations to save money on shotcrete consumption, increase the quality of material going onto the walls and, most importantly, create a safer environment for miners.

“My mission has always been to ensure the product is 100% quality and reacts and solidifies as it is supposed to without causing any falls or damage to personnel or equipment,” he said.

Other than the new accelerator, the system will use sophisticated scanning technology for shotcrete thickness monitoring.

“That will, again, enable you to enhance the quality of the material going onto the drifts and headings,” Lavallee said. “It will also eventually help with cost reductions through reducing overshooting.”

These elements, combined, could have a significant impact on the operating cost associated with the SS5, with Lavallee hinting at 30-60% savings from the dosing system, and plus-20% savings in shotcrete consumption with the use of the accelerator and real-time scanning technology.

The Australia market will be the first to test out the new sprayer, with a unit set to be delivered to a customer site in the June quarter. Ahead of this, it is heading to the company’s branch in Elko, Nevada, for additional testing.

This unit will also be equipped with a newer type of battery MacLean is currently putting through its paces, in addition to an in-development compressor.

MacLean, again, appears to have not only electrified its mining equipment niche; but reinforced it with all the technology smarts forward-thinking miners are after.

Harte Gold goes with the Watson-Marlow flow at Sugar Zone

Harte Gold’s wholly-owned Sugar Zone Mine in Ontario, Canada, is now benefiting from the adoption of Qdos and APEX peristaltic pumps from Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group (WMFTG).

Having deployed the pumps in two important applications, the Sugar Zone team are now enjoying far better flow rate efficiency, along with significant reductions in both maintenance requirements and downtime, according to WMFTG, with the miner subsequently looking to invest further in the company’s pumping technology.

The Sugar Zone Mine entered commercial production in 2019 and has an anticipated operating life of around 13 years at current output levels. Producing 60,000-65,000 oz/y of gold at a 800 t/d throughput rate, a mine expansion study is currently in progress to support a 1,200 t/d rate.

In the reagents room, Harte Gold operates eight diaphragm pumps on a 24/7 basis. However, issues over insufficient process efficiency, the amount of maintenance time needed to replace diaphragms and the potential for leaks prompted the company to look at alternative solutions.

Harte Gold invited WMFTG to trial its Qdos 30 chemical metering pump. For a period of one month, the mining company compared the Qdos with an existing electric diaphragm pump dosing flotation reagents such as potassium amyl xanthate (PAX).

With a flow rate for PAX of 100-300 ml/min, the Qdos 30 significantly outperformed the diaphragm pump on flow rate efficiency, according to WMFTG. Although the dosage rates were adjusted as required before and during the trial, the Qdos outputs were noticeably more consistent in comparison with the existing pump, bringing potential for process optimisation.

ReNu peristaltic pump head technology is at the core of the Qdos pump and is key to its success at Harte Gold, WMFTG says. ReNu ensures accurate and repeatable chemical dosing and, thanks to its contained design with integral leak detection, reduces wastage and eliminates any potential for operator exposure to chemicals.

In addition, Harte Gold personnel confirmed both operations and maintenance were trouble-free during the trial runs. Indeed, there were favourable reports of the colour TFT display, which shows both flow and speed, while the maintenance team was in full support of the single, no tools ReNu pump head replacement.

Such was the success of the trial that Harte Gold is now looking to gradually phase-out all eight of its existing diaphragm pumps in the reagents room over the coming few months. Although control of the first Qdos 30 on site is manual, the company will adopt 4-20 mA I/O moving forward, according to WMFTG. Harte Gold is also planning to replace diaphragm pumps with Qdos models on the water treatment side of its business.

In another area of its operations, Harte Gold has replaced an existing peristaltic pump (not Watson-Marlow) with an APEX 35 in a 24/7 application. Here, the pump transfers thickened gravity concentrate from a gold decanting tank to a shaker table. However, the company found itself replacing hoses every week in its existing peristaltic pump.

The company already had an APEX 35 in operation so thought the same model would provide a good solution for the thickened gravity concentrate. Instead of the one week hose life previously achieved, the APEX 35 with NR hose lasted for 12 weeks, reducing both maintenance and downtime in this critical application. Now, only four hoses are required per year, rather than 52, equating to a 1,200%-plus gain in maintenance intervals, the company said.

Kirkland Lake Gold boosts Macassa battery-powered fleet with Artisan Z50s

With production at the Macassa gold mine in Ontario, Canada, set to ramp up over the next three years, Kirkland Lake Gold is, once again, bulking up its fleet of battery-electric equipment.

In its just released December quarter results, the company confirmed it recently purchased five 50-t battery-powered underground haul trucks for the operation, with the first already delivered in the current quarter.

The loaders in question are Artisan Z50s, which have a 50-t payload and are equipped with AutoSwap, a patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack.

Macassa is a first adopter of battery-electric equipment, testing out early protoype versions of machines and now having a large fleet of trucks and LHDs from the likes of Artisan and Epiroc.

Kirkland Lake has big plans for Macassa, with the #4 Shaft project underpinning much of the planned growth.

In the quarterly results, the company said the shaft advanced 875 ft (277 m) in the three months ending December 31, having now reached a depth of 4,240 ft. Kirkland Lake said the project, which will see the shaft sunk to a depth of 6,400 ft in one phase, was around one month ahead of schedule at the end of 2020. Project completion was targeted for late 2022.

Macassa produced 183,037 oz of gold in 2020, down from 241,297 oz in 2019, following COVID-19-related changes. The company expects the mine to ramp up over the next three years, reaching 400,000-420,000 oz in 2023 following completion of the #4 Shaft.

Evolution Mining’s Red Lake transformation taking shape with CYD decline

Evolution Mining’s transformation plans at the Red Lake gold mine in Ontario, Canada, are tracking ahead of schedule with the Australia-based company’s board signing off the development of a surface decline at the operation.

The company acquired the Red Lake Complex from Newmont in November 2019 in a deal that could eventually rise to $475 million. When the deal was completed, it committed to invest $100 million on existing operations and an additional $50 million in exploration at Red Lake over the first three-year period following completion of the transaction.

The company says the surface decline, which is expected to cost A$60-A$70 million ($47-55 million), will provide a near-term opportunity to access additional low-cost ounces in the Upper Campbell mine at Red Lake with two additional mining fronts independent of the current shaft-constrained infrastructure.

The decline has been named the Campbell Young Dickenson (CYD) in recognition of three early developers of the Red Lake deposit, Evolution said.

Red Lake currently hosts a total reserve of 2.93 Moz at an average grade of 6.9 g/t gold. The decline will enable access to the Upper Campbell area of the mine, which hosts reserves of 1.85 Moz at an average grade of 7.4 g/t Au. Access to the HG Young orebody will also be established, which hosts a resource of 427,000 oz at 5.5 g/t Au and has the potential to be converted to reserves with additional drilling, Evolution said.

 

Annual gold production rates from these additional mining fronts are expected to be in excess of 1 Mt, according to the company.

With regulatory approval for this decline already in place, the box cut is expected to be completed in the March 2021 quarter. It will be located proximal to the Campbell mill.

Following this, development activities are scheduled to commence in the June 2021 quarter and first ore is currently expected in the June 2022 quarter. Studies are ongoing to assess opportunities to accelerate development and ultimate access to first ore, the company said.

Evolution’s stage 1 transformation plan at Red Lake is to cement production of plus-200,000 oz/y at an all-in sustaining cost of less than $1,000/oz by 2023. As part of this program, it has already decommissioned around 70 pieces of underground equipment and completed the phase 1 “hoist automation project” among other things.

Jake Klein, Evolution’s Executive Chairman, said on February 17: “Red Lake has consistently exceeded our expectations in almost every respect. With today’s announcement of the 2.93 Moz gold JORC Code ore reserve and board approval for the decline development, we are excited about the continued momentum we are building at this operation.

“This commitment is a significant step towards achieving Evolution’s vision of restoring Red Lake to be one of Canada’s premier gold mines sustainably producing 300,000-500,000 oz per annum of low-cost gold.”

Barrick Hemlo boosts productivity with Orica wireless blast initiation solution

Orica says testing of its WebGen™ 100 solution at Barrick Gold’s Hemlo mine in Ontario, Canada, has shown wireless blast initiation can improve the economics of its Alimak stoping.

In early 2019, Hemlo’s management team approached Orica and Manroc to explore opportunities for improvement via the application of wireless blast initiation. Through a series of workshops, Orica and Barrick Hemlo worked together to identify opportunities to use WebGen 100 wireless through the earth initiation technology in its Blind Alimak Mining application.

This Blind Alimak Retreat (BAR) concept was aimed at improving both safety and productivity, and included:

  • Reduced exposure time related to Alimak entries;
  • Improved ore recovery from 70% to over 90%;
  • Increased recovery by maximising blast design, sequence, and available void;
  • Increased mucking rates while decreasing cycle time; and
  • Optimised crew logistics by using single pass loading.

To expand operations and aid in the longevity of mine life, both efficiency and recovery were top priorities for the Hemlo team, Orica said.

Alimak Mining is normally done either in small repetitive blasts cycles, from the bottom of the raise up to an upper sill, or, in the case of blind Alimaks, as a mass blast into the void that exists in the raise and undercut below.

Given that access is lost after the mass blast, the size of the blast (Alimak height) and recovery is often restricted by “free face” and available void. At Hemlo, the Blind Alimak blast performance was limited by underbreak in the top third of the Alimak (footwall break) due to the available void becoming choked off during blast progression. Using wireless blasting technology, the team was able to eliminate all void limitation, Orica said.

The solution was to develop a blast design with optimised burden and spacing as well as timing and blast sequencing, allowing well-defined portions of the Alimak stope to be taken at the appropriate time. Single-pass loading was used to achieve the safety and productivity benefits.

Breaking the Alimak stope into five pre-loaded portions (each increasing in size to capitalise on void created during the excavation process) allowed for flexible blast management throughout the mining process, Orica said.

“With the ability to merge and increase blast sizes based on in-field results, the operation had unprecedented control and was able to operate outside of the traditional constraints of mining cycles,” it added.

With three days of continuous loading, Hemlo was able to achieve a month-and-a-half worth of blasting while freeing up the Alimak crews to move on to the next stope, according to Orica. To maximise the blasting sequence, the first blast (wall slash and five rings) was blasted with Orica’s i-kon™ III Electronic Blasting System. The next three blasts (two merged) were fired with WebGen 100 units when ready, with performance verified with bucket counts and CMS.

The results of the project stope were extremely positive and proved that wireless blast initiation can improve the economics of the Alimak stoping, according to Orica. Key benefits included significantly reduced personal exposure (reduced by over 50%), increased stope recovery and cycle time. The success of the Alimak has also led to the introduction of wireless blasting into large blind up-hole patterns at Barrick Hemlo, solving similar issues to that of the Alimaks, Orica said.

The outcomes of this project delivered a 40% improvement in productivity through decreased cycle time, faster mucking rates, improved ore recovery from 70% to over 90%, and increased safety by eliminating countless re-entries and hookups, while stripping rail and logistically simplifying the operations process.

Recovery improvement and productivity gains delivered significant value and increased revenue for the customer, Orica added.

“The project has also shown the ability to increase the height of blind Alimak stopes without concern for available void, thereby eliminating the need of top sill development moving forward,” it said.

This successful trial has led to full-time technical collaboration with Barrick Hemlo mine since the end of 2019. Including this evaluation at Hemlo, Orica has successfully fired more than 50 wireless initiating system blasts loaded with over 2,700 WebGen 100 units.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works enlists SGS Canada for Re-2OX pilot plant build

Canada Silver Cobalt Works has signed an agreement with SGS Canada Inc to proceed with its Re-2OX pilot plant in Ontario, Canada.

This critical step will allow the company to, it says, accelerate the production of client-specific battery metals for the North American electric vehicle (EV) market, one of its key strategies.

In 2018, SGS Lakefield used the environmentally friendly Re-2OX process to recover 99% of the cobalt and 81% of the nickel from a composite of gravity concentrates while also removing 99% of the arsenic, a long-time issue in this cobalt-rich Cobalt Camp. The gravity concentrates graded 9.25% Co, 5.65% Ni, 49.9% As and 9,250 g/t Ag.

The Re-2OX process, which skips the normal smelting process to create battery-grade cobalt sulphate, was used at SGS to produce a technical-grade cobalt sulphate hexahydrate at 22.6%, directly from cobalt-rich gravity concentrates produced from the first level of Canada Silver Cobalt Works’ Castle mine in the Cobalt Camp. The 22.6% cobalt sulphate compound exceeded the specifications required by battery manufacturers at that time, the company said.

The latest plan calls for SGS to design and build the Stage 1 pilot plant at Lakefield, Ontario. Feed material for this test work will come from the underground at the Castle mine, the high-grade silver discovery Robinson Zone, Beaver and Castle tailings, recycled batteries, and from newly acquired properties.

Management sees the Re-2OX pilot plant as a long-term strategic advantage that will facilitate the production of battery metals for the EV market for many years.

“More importantly, production can be certified as ethically sourced within stringent Canadian environmental standards and traceable verification of a closed-loop supply chain that will ensure this product is highly sought after and could even possibly garner a premium due to source verification,” the company said. “The cobalt ore will come from the Cobalt region including from the Castle property currently being aggressively drilled for high-grade silver and battery metals.”

The company has retained the services of ONSite Labs as an independent contract operator of the Temiskaming Testing Laboratories facility Canada Silver Cobalt Works acquired last year. ONSite is a commercial analytical lab operator.

Over the next four months, ONSite Labs will process samples to prove the ability to produce viable data with the highest standards of quality control, the company said, adding that the lab could be fully operational and open for business by the summer of 2021.

The Castle property is 15 km east of Pan American Silver’s Juby gold deposit, 30 km due south of Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine, 75 km southwest of Kirkland Lake Gold’s Macassa Complex, and 100 km southeast of new gold discoveries in the Timmins West area.

Artisan battery-powered Z50 truck on its way to Kirkland Lake’s Macassa gold mine

Kirkland Lake Gold says it is expecting to receive a 50 t battery-powered Z50 underground haul truck at its Macassa gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, this quarter, following a purchase agreement signed last year.

The gold miner’s Macassa operation has been a leading adopter of new electric equipment and already has four 40 t battery-powered machines at the underground mine. These are matched by many battery-powered LHDs made by likes of Artisan Vehicle Systems and Epiroc.

The latest 50 t vehicle will come from Artisan, a Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions business unit.

The Z50 haul truck is a ground-up design that seamlessly integrates the most capable and proven battery-electric powertrain available in the mining industry with the latest and most coveted features of any haul truck on the market today, according to Sandvik. The 50 t machine is based off the existing design for the Z40 truck, which Artisan released back in 2018, but features a stretched rear frame (close to 19 in).

It is equipped with AutoSwap, a patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack. This makes battery swapping faster and easier with a minimum amount of manual handling: changing the battery only takes about six minutes, and it can be done in a passing bay or old re-muck bay with no overhead cranes or external infrastructure needed, Sandvik says.

The news of the pending arrival of this electric vehicle came at the same time as Kirkland Lake released its 2020 production results. The company produced 369,434 oz of gold in the December quarter to make a total of 1.37 Moz of gold in 2020, 41% higher than the total in 2019, which was in line with its full-year 2020 guidance of 1.35-1.4 Moz.