Tag Archives: Saskatchewan

Foran Mining assembles FS team for ‘world first’ carbon neutral copper mine project

Foran Mining says it has bolstered the design team for its ongoing definitive feasibility study at the McIlvenna Bay project, in Saskatchewan, Canada, providing the company with the technical expertise to execute on its strategy of building the world’s first copper mine designed to be “carbon neutral” from day one of production.

The advisors are anticipated to employ a range of technologies and initiatives in the design of the mine and processing facilities to materially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of the operations.

Foran says its due diligence to date has highlighted the potentially superior returns achievable through implementing this strategy, while the use of battery-electric vehicles will also be safer for employees, reducing risk of injury and physical stressors, such as vibration and noise.

The FS team includes experts from:

  • Stantec – mine design and engineering;
  • Knight Piésold Ltd – tailings storage facility design;
  • Halyard Inc – process plant design;
  • Micon International Limited – resource estimate;
  • Base Metallurgical Laboratories Ltd – metallurgical testing;
  • Canada North Environmental Services Ltd – environmental; and
  • Synergy Enterprises – sustainability and carbon accounting

Dan Myerson, Executive Chair of Foran, said: “The appointment of these world-class environmental and engineering specialists reflects our ambition to develop a technically and economically compelling solution to the environmental and social challenges which have been traditionally associated with the sector. We are therefore thrilled that professionals of this calibre have agreed to support us on this journey.”

He added: “Together, we intend to ensure that our operations emit net zero greenhouse gases and set new safety benchmarks for the industry, while also ensuring that the local community and the broader Canadian population benefit from our operations. The responsible production of copper and zinc is critical as the world transitions to a low carbon future; these metals are used in the production of renewable energy assets and electronic industries, for example. We look forward to providing more updates, in relation to our infill and expansion drilling, as well as announcing more detailed plans about how we will be putting our ambitions into practice.”

The 2020 prefeasibility study on McIlvenna Bay envisaged a 3,600 t/d underground operation with on‐site crushing and mineral processing facilities, a paste plant and filtered tailings storage facility. It considered a nine-year life of mine and scheduled treatment of the full reserve of 11.34 Mt grading 4.01% Zn, 1.14% Cu, 0.54 g/t Au and 20.97 g/t Ag. It also included plans for McIlvenna Bay to be an early adopter of battery-electric haul trucks.

Foran recently commenced its largest drill program ever (pictured), with over 30,000 m of infill and expansion drilling in the deposit. This has been designed to maximise the conversion of the current inferred resource to the indicated resource category, which can then be interrogated for inclusion in the updated reserve statement.

Foran says the feasibility study will, among other things, look to:

  • Further optimise and detail the McIlvenna Bay project engineering, including the estimation of reserves, mine design, stope sequence, development and production schedules;
  • Refine power and equipment requirements to support the company’s commitment to carbon neutral operations;
  • Update and detail the design and feasibility of the tailings desulphurisation process, dry stack storage facility and cemented paste backfill processes;
  • Provide detailed construction scheduling, including optimisations that would arise from pre-fabrication and/or modular (off-site) construction to the greatest extent possible;
  • Identify further mine optimisation to increase productivity and reduce operational expenditures; and
  • Consider equipment usage and activities where greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated, reduced or offset to ensure that McIlvenna Bay is a carbon neutral operation.

Nutrien increases use of Triax’s Proximity Trace tech to curb COVID-19 spread

Nutrien says it is expanded its use of proximity monitoring and contact tracing technology, Proximity Trace™ from Triax Technologies, to its potash mines in Saskatchewan, Canada, as it looks to continue tracking and combatting the spread of COVID-19.

More than 8,000 employees are using the technology to date, with an additional 6,500 expected to be part of the expansion in the coming months, representing 65% of Nutrien’s global employee base.

At the start of the pandemic, Nutrien was deemed an essential service in its core markets for its role in supporting the agriculture industry. To help mitigate the spread of the virus, Nutrien partnered with Triax to help its workers maintain a minimum of 6 ft (close to 2 m) of physical distancing and automatically capture data about their interactions with co-workers, as part of its COVID-19 protocols.

Originally deployed last July at Nutrien’s nitrogen and phosphate sites in the US, Proximity Trace is now being rolled out at Nutrien’s potash mines in Saskatchewan and at corporate offices in Colorado, Illinois, Alberta and Saskatchewan, it said.

Nutrien EVP & Chief Information Officer, Brent Poohkay, said: “In the early days of the pandemic, global health authorities called upon the private sector to step up and do our part to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. Nutrien developed a playbook that articulates a strategy and a plan for handling the virus, and the Triax system has been valuable in keeping our essential workers safe to help ensure a health crisis doesn’t become a food crisis.

“Now we are expanding the playbook as we redefine the future of work with safety and integrity at the forefront.”

Proximity Trace tags are attached to workers’ clothing or hard hats and produce an audio and visual alert to those who come within 6 ft of one another. These wearable sensors also automatically log data for leaders to quickly perform contact tracing if a positive case arises, thereby preventing further spread at the site and reassuring those who are not at risk, Nutrien explains.

“Since it pinpoints the individuals who may have been exposed, the solution also helps Nutrien minimise operational shutdowns and reduces the risk of associated costs and product delivery delays,” it said.

Dr Tarek Sardana, one of the medical experts who’s been advising Nutrien’s executive leadership team regarding COVID-19 responses and protocols, said: “At the workplace, if you maintain proper physical distancing, then your risk of spreading the virus is very low. I encourage people to think of themselves as if they’re living within six-foot bubbles, and if no one penetrates the bubbles, it’s harder for the virus to spread.”

Robert Costantini, CEO of Triax Technologies, said: “We’re honoured that Nutrien has included our Proximity Trace technology as an essential part of its COVID-19 health and safety playbook. Nutrien’s commitment to worker safety through physical distancing and contact tracing was prioritised early on by their management and their focus on this issue has been exemplary. We’re pleased that our wearable sensors can play a critical role in enabling these protocols to create a safer environment.”

Since the implementation of the Triax technology, Nutrien has been able to safely support as many as 1,700 employees and contractors at a time at its nitrogen and phosphate sites. The physical distancing alerts have reduced the number of close contacts, positive cases and quarantines. Additionally, the automated data system has improved the efficiency and accuracy of contact tracing, it said.

“As Nutrien explores how to safely return more employees who have been working remotely to the workplace, the Triax technology will support additional prevention and protection across Nutrien’s North American footprint,” the company concluded.

BHP commits another $272 million for shaft lining at Jansen potash project

BHP has agreed to invest another $272 million in the Jansen Stage 1 potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, following challenges encountered with placement of the shaft lining and more recent impacts from the company’s COVID-19 response plan.

Up until this point, BHP had committed to spending $2.7 billion on the project.

BHP said in its September quarter results: “As a consequence of the challenges encountered earlier with placement of the shaft lining and then the more recent impacts from our COVID-19 response plan, the board has approved additional funding of $272 million for the completion of the shafts, resulting in a total budget of $3.0 billion (previously $2.7 billion).”

This is expected to result in the excavation and lining of the 7.3 m diameter production (975 m deep) and service (1,005 m deep) shafts – sunk by DMC Mining using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader – and the installation of essential surface infrastructure and utilities.

Back in August, the company said it would not decide on an investment in the full Stage 1 project until mid-2021, a delay on the February 2021 deadline it previously advised of. This was down to the shaft lining problem.

The current Stage 1 plan, which is 86% complete and has an expected capital outlay of $5.3-5.7 billion, involves building out initial capacity of 4.3-4.5 Mt/y of potash, with expansion optionality.

BHP added: “Jansen Stage 1 remains well positioned with attractive medium to longer-term commodity fundamentals, and is set to be a high-margin, low-cost, long-life asset, with multiple, basin-wide, expansion opportunities. As always, we will be disciplined about our entry into the market and it must pass our strict Capital Allocation Framework tests.”

Saskatchewan to create Canada’s first rare earth processing facility at SRC

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced C$31 million ($23 million) in funding for a rare earth processing facility in the province, delivering, it says, on a key element of its 2030 Growth Plan.

The facility will be owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). It will be the first-of-its-kind in Canada and will begin to establish a rare earth element (REE) supply chain in Saskatchewan, forming an industry model for future commercial REE resource expansion in the province, the government says.

Global demand for REEs will increase significantly in the coming decade as demand for electric vehicles, renewable power generation and all forms of electronics increases, it added.

“Saskatchewan’s new rare earth processing facility will be a catalyst to stimulate the resource sector in Saskatchewan and across Canada, providing the early-stage supply chain needed to generate cash flow, investment and industrial growth of the sector,” Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe, said. “It will also help ensure the competitiveness of Saskatchewan as we focus on our economic recovery and grow our province over the next decade.”

Minister responsible for the SRC, Jeremy Harrison, said: “Saskatchewan has a globally recognised mining industry, workforce and culture with local companies already beginning to explore REE deposits both in Saskatchewan, and in surrounding provinces and territories. This facility will allow the REE industry to grow and create both immediate and long-term jobs.”

The conversion of REE ore to individual REE products is carried out in two main stages. The first is the concentration of ore to mixed REE carbonate. The second is the more complex separation stage that converts the mixed REE carbonate to commercial pure-grade REEs. The facility will address both stages of REE processing, according to the government.

The facility will be able to process both main hard rock ores (bastnaesite and monazite) and in the future, will also be capable of processing uranium raffinate concentrate, a rich source of REE from Saskatchewan’s uranium industry.

The facility is expected to be fully operational in late 2022 with construction beginning this autumn.

SRC is Canada’s second largest research and technology organisation. With more than 290 employees, C$91 million in annual revenue and nearly 75 years of experience, SRC provides services and products to its 1,500 clients in 27 countries around the world, it says.

Herrenknecht heralds ‘game changer for shaft sinking in soft and medium-hard rock’

Having successfully excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts using Shaft Boring Roadheaders (SBRs) at the BHP-owned Jansen potash project, Herrenknecht is leveraging all the lessons it learnt in Saskatchewan, Canada, to ensure this technology proves to be a “game changer” for the sinking of shafts in soft and medium-hard rock.

Mining contractor DMC Mining Services used two SBRs to excavate the blind shafts at Jansen, with the successful project completion acting as proof of the feasibility and advantages of the Herrenknecht SBR concept for the mining industry, according to the Germany-based company.

In August 2018, the mining industry milestone was achieved with the successful completion of two blind shafts to depths of -975 and -1,005 m, respectively, at the Jansen potash project. For the first time, shafts in the mining business were sunk using only mechanical excavation for this reference project.

Two Herrenknecht SBRs excavated the ground by a partial-face cutting method, using a cutting drum mounted on a telescopic boom. The excavated rock was then conveyed from the bench by an innovative pneumatic mucking system (PNM) and transferred into muck buckets to be hoisted to surface, the company said.

An innovative laser navigation system designed by the Herrenknecht subsidiary, VMT Group, using target units mounted on the SBR and lasers connected to the shaft wall, was used to keep the machines on track.

Herrenknecht, with its experience as a technology leader in mechanised tunnelling, developed the SBR for the mechanised sinking of blind shafts in soft to medium-hard rock. Based on the proven technology of the Herrenknecht Vertical Shaft Sinking Machine (VSM), the SBR offers improved safety performance compared with conventional shaft sinking methods while also achieving higher advance rates, according to the company.

The geological conditions at Jansen, however, were anything but easy. At a depth of around 450 m, the SBR encountered a layer of extremely hard competent rock causing excessive pick wear and low rates of advance. To overcome this and some further hardness challenges, the cutting drum was upgraded to a hard-rock cutting drum and torque output was doubled.

Because an existing high-pressure underground waterway, known as the Blairmore aquifer, posed a risk for water ingress into the shaft, ground freezing was executed temporarily in 2011 by BHP to a depth of approximately 650 m.

A major success in this difficult geology was the use of a mechanical ring erector, which allowed the installation of steel tubbing segments with minimal risk to personnel and a high degree of accuracy, according to Herrenknecht. The steel liner rings were installed through the Blairmore aquifer to assist in the development of a composite steel and concrete watertight liner in both shafts.

Since the project-specific design changes at Jansen required modifications to the SBRs, Herrenknecht, together with contractor DMC Mining Services, refined the SBR technology over the long term. The result is the second generation of Herrenknecht SBR technology.

As an example, the second generation SBR is equipped with an additional stabilisation level that allows the fixation of the SBR centre pipe on both ends. This ensures a stable transfer of the reaction forces from the cutting process to the shaft wall without movement of the machine – even with fluctuating excavation diameter of 8-11 m, as encountered at the Jansen potash project.

In addition to an improved filter system, a new design of the PNM system was installed in the second-generation machine, which results in a higher degree of separation in the suction tank itself, allowing wet material and even water to be handled.

Martin-Devid Herrenknecht, General Manager Mining at Herrenknecht, said: “The technical development of the second SBR generation is based on the lessons learnt from the Jansen project.” Two SBRs of this generation are currently in operation in Belarus and achieving good performance as a result of the improvements made, Herrenknecht said. “This pioneering approach is certainly a game changer for shaft sinking in soft and medium-hard rock, impacting the whole mining industry,” he said.

After the successful excavation at Jansen, another task was to be managed: the disassembly of the huge machines in the deep shafts. To remove the SBR from the shaft bottom, it was necessary to reduce the weight of the machine from 390 t to 340 t. This was achieved by stripping all components off the SBR that were in the excavation chamber. Both SBRs were safely extracted from the two shafts at the Jansen potash project in May 2019.

The Jansen potash project, located approximately 140 km east of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is a BHP-owned future potential potash mine with an expected initial mining output of around 3-4.5 Mt/y with valuable expansion options.

BHP’s Jansen potash project set for early-2021 investment decision

While uncertainty remains around the construction of BHP’s Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, the company, in its September quarter results, confirmed it is still spending money on the asset prior to making a development decision.

BHP said the Jansen Stage 1 potash project will be presented to the board for a final investment decision by February 2021. The currently Stage 1 plan, which is in the feasibility study stage, involves building out initial capacity of 4.3-4.5 Mt/y of potash, with expansion optionality.

The miner has, so far, committed to spending $2.7 billion on the project. This is expected to result in the excavation and lining of the 7.3 m diameter production (975 m deep) and service (1,005 m deep, pictured) shafts – sunk by DMC Mining using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader – and the installation of essential surface infrastructure and utilities. The overall Stage 1 project is expected to have a capital outlay of $5.3-5.7 billion.

In the September quarter results, BHP said in order to make a final investment decision, work on engineering to support project planning and on finalising the port solution is required. The BHP Board has, as a result, approved $144 million of spending for these activities, with an additional $201 million in funding set aside to further de-risk the project. The latter is focused on the mine’s scope of work, advancing other engineering and procurement activities, and preparation works for underground infrastructure, it said.

“This will enable an efficient transition of the project team between the study and execution phase, should the project be approved,” BHP said, adding that the release of funding to the project will be staged over this period.

The company, meanwhile, gave an update on its South Flank iron ore development, in the Pilbara of Western Australia, with CEO Andrew Mackenzie saying the project was 50% complete, with all major items on schedule and budget.

South Flank, which is expected to cost $4.6 billion to build, is set to replace production from the existing Yandi mine, which is reaching the end of its economic life. BHP is targeting first ore extraction at the operation in 2021 and expects to ramp up to 80 Mt/y of output.

QM Points to rehabilitate former uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada

QM Points Contracting has entered into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council to complete the Gunnar Mine – Other Site Aspect Remediation project in the Canadian province.

This agreement represents one of the remaining major phases to reclaim the Gunnar mine site that was closed in 1964 without proper decommissioning, it said. As a result of the agreement, the site will be remediated to a level to allow reestablishment of vegetation and traditional uses of the land. It will also result in training, employment and subcontracting opportunities for local community members, as well as other benefits to the region including bursaries for students and community enhancement projects, QM said.

QM Points is a partnership between QM Environmental and Points Athabasca Contracting, with the partnership specialising in environmental contracting activities in Saskatchewan and beyond. QM Environmental is a national environmental services contractor and Points Athabasca Contracting is a Saskatchewan-based civil and construction contractor with majority local Athabasca Basin Indigenous ownership, and over 20 years of successful operations in the region.

John Scarfe, Chief Executive Officer of Points Athabasca Contracting, said: “This partnership is a very exciting step for us and for our shareholder communities in the Athabasca Basin Region. Not only does it allow us to expand and add end-to-end construction projects to our portfolio but growing this partnership also helps provide opportunities for us to do what we do best: ‘Building Capacity’ for Indigenous people.”

The former Gunnar uranium mine and mill site is located on the north shore of Lake Athabasca, some 25 km south of Uranium City, Saskatchewan. The mine was operational from 1955-1963 and officially closed in 1964 with little decommissioning.

Due to the remote and isolated location of the site, numerous buildings (both industrial and residential) and facilities were developed. According to technical standards during that time, asbestos was widely used in all the buildings.

QM Points’ work will focus on waste rock cover construction; landfill construction; and general site remediation including installation of stainless steel mine closures, gamma radiation shielding covers over the general site, management of contaminated soils and rock and site-wide debris segregation and consolidation in appropriate landfills.

Bauer completes cutting technology milestone at Rio Tinto FalCon JV

On June 17, Bauer Maschinen GmbH, together with a joint venture partner, successfully completed the first 228 m cutter bulk sample on the Rio Tinto- and Star Diamond-owned FalCon project in Canada, marking a new global depth record.

“This depth has never been reached by a trench cutter in any commercial application worldwide before and proves that Bauer cutter technology cannot only be used in specialist foundation engineering, but is also suitable for the exploration and mining industry,” Bauer said.

The FalCon project, owned jointly by Rio Tinto Exploration Canada and Star Diamond, aims to prove up the commercial viability of the Fort a la Corne kimberlite fields in Saskatchewan, Canada.

“Due to the low grade of the kimberlites, Rio Tinto decided to use Bauer trench cutter technology to provide large-volume, high quality kimberlite samples for the final evaluation of the project in regards to diamond content and recovered diamond quality,” Bauer said.

A Bauer BC 50 cutter on a Bauer MC 128 duty-cycle crane is used for bulk sampling to a maximum depth of 250 m. In addition to the cutter and the base carrier, Bauer Maschinen GmbH supplied a BE 550 desanding plant and other accessories from its branch Bauer MAT Slurry Handling Systems.

The equipment was delivered to site on time and tested in September 2018. After a long winter break, operation started at the end of May 2019.

As part of this process, the kimberlite is washed and bagged into bulk bags for further evaluation in multiple steps by Rio Tinto, according to Bauer.

The Star kimberlite on the FalCon project is covered by around 120 m of overburden, which poses a significant additional challenge to the project.

Bauer, together with its local joint venture partner, Nuna Logistics Limited from Edmonton, achieved the 228 m milestone.

“Groundbreaking, in more ways than one, this is a significant milestone in using proven technology for a very different application,” Gary Hodgkinson, Project Director at FalCon, said.

“For us it means that we will be able to make important exploration decisions on what has been one of the most challenging diamond evaluation projects in the industry.

“We look forward to continuing working with Bauer to embed this technology and other new innovations in our program.”

Under the present contract, Bauer will execute several more bulk samples in 2019 on the FalCon project with the option to be extended into 2020.

Stuart Olson to help construct Western Resources’ Milestone Phase I potash project

Western Resources’ wholly owned subsidiary, Western Potash Corp, has entered into a lump-sum agreement with Stuart Olson Prairie Construction to become the General Contractor for the Milestone Phase I potash project, in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Stuart Olson is one of the largest and most respected construction services companies in Canada, according to Western Resources. “Their unique approach to doing business, as well as extensive construction and industrial services proved a perfect partner for the project,” the company said, adding that the company will be drawing a large proportion of its trades from the local area.

Milestone Phase I will be the newest and most innovative, environmentally friendly and capital efficient new potash mine in Canada, according to the company. The plan is to produce 146,000 t/y of potash over a 12-year period.

Using advanced drilling techniques, the project intends to initially target the high-grade potash bed, with selective dissolution preferentially leaching the potash to the surface. “This means that any salt is left underground and there is no tailings pile at the surface, thereby reducing the water consumption by half,” Western Resources explained. The potash is then crystalised naturally in a pond due to the temperature change, resulting in much lower energy consumption and a capital cost proportionally less than other solution mines, according to the company.

The project has already completed the early work to prepare the site including an access road, site clearing and piling foundations, water well, water pipeline and power infrastructure. The civil work of the crystallisation pond has also been completed, with the site now ready for the start of full construction with Stuart Olson.

Stuart Olson’s General Contractor scope will include the construction of all above ground facilities, including concrete, steel and pipework, installation of equipment, electrical and control system work, building work and site finishing. Its team will mobilise to the project site in June, with an anticipated maximum workforce of around 100 people on site.

“With their heritage in Western Canada and diverse experience, they have the skills, experience and resources to complete the project safely on budget and schedule,” Western Potash said.

Bill Xue, Chairman of Western Potash, said: “The management and Board of Directors are very excited to partner with Stuart Olson to build this innovative and efficient new mine in Saskatchewan. The project will benefit from the strength and experience of Stuart Olson, and we look forward to the next milestone, the start of production in mid-2020.”