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Anaconda poised to scale up The Argyle open-pit gold mine that recently opened in Baie Verte, Newfoundland is a small, hardrock operation with a relatively short mine life, but it is expected to play a vital role in Anaconda Miningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future By Carolyn Gruske
34 The blast felt around the world
42 Getting a clear picture
The fallout from the decision to expand a Pilbara iron mine at the expense of an Indigenous Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heritage site offers the opportunity to re-examine just what is free, prior and informed consent
Technological advances are allowing geotechnical engineers to develop complete understandings of their tailings storage facilities at a time where it is more important than ever
By Lynn Greiner and Carolyn Gruske
By Matthew Parizot
November 2020 â&#x20AC;˘ Novembre 2020 | 5
CIM MAGAZINE NovEMBER 2020 • NovEMBRE 2020
in each issue 8
tools of the trade 10
The best in new technology Compiled by Tijana Mitrovic and Matthew Parizot
South Australian exploration challenge shows the power of collaboration By Matthew Parizot
Program supporting female entrepreneurship secures Yamana Gold sponsorship
By Tijana Mitrovic
Nouveau Monde Graphite aims to increase capacity and profits with silicon
By Tijana Mitrovic
mining mentors 22
Geotechnical engineer Andy Small on the allure of working on tailings dams and the value of building and protecting one's professional reputation By Kelsey Rolfe
By Michele Beacom
mining lore 58
What every metallurgist needs to read when it comes to comminution
contenu francophone 48
Table des matières
By Robert E. McIvor
Lettre de l’éditeur
Planning for long-term growth in a mine’s region
Mot de la présidente
By Doris Hiam-Galvez
Capstone Mining is reworking mineral processing procedures at its Pinto Valley mine to keep costs down and throughput up By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
Thomas Edison: The unlucky miner By Tijana Mitrovic
mineral processing 28
A new committee dedicated to professional development and a new book adds timely contribution to porphyry science
Saskatchewan invests $31 million to create a processing facility By Sarah Treleaven
Nouveau Monde Graphite augmente sa capacité et ses profits potentiels avec une innovation reposant sur le silicium By Tijana Mitrovic
International energy engineer of the year 2020, Emily Thorn Corthay, on how to make mining operations cleaner and more efficient By Carolyn Gruske
Des tonnes de possibilités Capstone Mining remanie ses procédures de traitement des minerais à la mine de Pinto Valley pour maîtriser ses coûts et augmenter sa capacité By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
6 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
THERE’S ONLY ONE SPARE PART FOR A WARMAN® A GENUINE ® WARMAN SPARE PART Only Warman® spare parts provide the superior performance and longer wear life that Warman® is renowned for. That’s because Warman® spare parts are made from superior materials and are backed by technical knowledge and expert service. So to ensure your Warman® pump continues to work like a Warman® pump, use genuine Warman® spare parts.
Get more from your mine with Warman®. Visit www.warman.weir Copyright ©, Weir Minerals Australia Limited. All rights reserved. WARMAN is a trademark and/or registered trademark of Weir Minerals Australia Ltd and Weir Group African IP Ltd; AH is a trademark and/or registered trademark of Weir Minerals Australia Ltd; WEIR and the WEIR Logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Weir Engineering Services Ltd. 167797/0316.
n late May, Rio Tinto completed a round of blasting in its continued expansion of the company’s iron ore operations in the Tom Price region of Western Australia. Expanding the Brockman 4 pit would provide high quality ore for Rio Tinto’s Pilbara blend, the international standard that other iron ores are measured against. The preceding fall the company had approved the spending of nearly US$750 million for the Tom Price operations. The investment, Rio Tinto said, had an “attractive internal rate of return” thanks to the value of the ore along with productivity improvements such as autonomous haulage. The new production would also have a smaller carbon footprint per tonnes produced. Output from Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations in 2020 was estimated to be around 325 million tonnes. That contribution would be added to the outflow from other miners who had together produced over 900 million tonnes the year before, which added a significant slice of the country’s gross domestic product, employed many thousand Australians and supplied feedstock for industrial production around the world. One downside of the expansion was that the Juukan rock shelters, caves that had evidence of human use dating back 46,000 years, would most likely be damaged by the blasting. That cost, the mining company, regulators and the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people (PKKP), who received mining revenue, had determined in 2013, was outweighed by the benefits. According to the company in its report to the Australian parliament at the end of July, the call to stop the blasting came at the 11th hour after the holes had been charged with explosives. To remove them would have been dangerous and difficult. The same report, however, also detailed that after further study of the Juukan rock shelters in 2014, awareness within the company of the cultural significance of the caves and of their importance to the PKKP had grown.
Prior to the blasting that damaged the Juukan rock shelters, the company was sensitive to the importance of stakeholder engagement and the precarious nature of the social licence to operate that comes with the development of mining operations in the 21st Century. In its Strategic Report 2019, published early in 2020, Rio Tinto identified “Communities and other key stakeholder risks” as a “very high impact” risk and one that was only becoming more significant. The company had a benefits agreement with the PKKP and had committed to ICMM’s sustainable development principles that require respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and efforts to obtain free, prior informed consent. An independent consulting firm gave its assurance that Rio Tinto had done a thorough job of evaluating its risk. While the level of risk at Brockman 4 had grown, the mine plan did not change. The same weekend Rio Tinto opted to blast at Juukan Gorge, George Floyd was killed by police on the other side of the world. The day after Rio Tinto issued its first apology, Australians were marching in the streets in protest of long-standing racial inequities. Less than two weeks later a parliamentary inquiry was launched and Western Australia had announced it would rewrite its statutes involving Indigenous heritage sites. And finally, in September, after a failed attempt at accountability, Rio Tinto’s CEO J-S Jacques, among others, resigned. It was the clearest, loudest signal yet that the rules have changed.
Ryan Bergen, Editor-in-chief email@example.com @Ryan_CIM_Mag
Editor-in-chief Ryan Bergen, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing editor Michele Beacom, email@example.com Section editors Carolyn Gruske, firstname.lastname@example.org; Matthew Parizot, email@example.com Editorial intern Tijana Mitrovic, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Doris Hiam-Galvez, Lynn Greiner, Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, Robert E. McIvor, Kelsey Rolfe, Sarah Treleaven
This issue’s cover New technologies can provide critical information and analysis for tailings storage facilities.
Photo courtesy of Seequent.
2020 National Magazine Awards: B2B Prix du magazine canadien: B2B
8 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Editorial advisory board Mohammad Babaei Khorzhoughi, Vic Pakalnis, Steve Rusk, Nathan Stubina Translations Karen Rolland Layout and design Clò Communications Inc., www.clocommunications.com
Advertising sales Dovetail Communications Inc. Tel.: 905.886.6640; Fax: 905.886.6615; www.dvtail.com Senior Account Executives Janet Jeffery, email@example.com, 905.707.3529 Christopher Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905.707.3516 Edyta (Edith) Dhillon, email@example.com, 905.707.3525 Subscriptions Online version included in CIM Membership ($197/yr). Print version for institutions or agencies – Canada: $275/yr (AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, SK, YT add 5% GST; ON add 13% HST; QC add 5% GST + 9.975% PST; NB, NL, NS, PE add 15% HST). Print version for institutions or agencies – USA/International: US$325/yr. Online access to single copy: $50. Copyright©2020. All rights reserved.
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As the world turns, so shifts the industry
e’re seeing the start of several new mining projects in Canada. Diligence, excellence and competence has paid off in completing the detailed engineering, in meeting all regulatory requirements, in forging new relationships with Aboriginal partners and in the procurement and construction phase, as these projects progress toward full operations. Community and political support are also paramount in these projects getting underway, using a whole-mine approach. It’s great to see shovels in the hands of government representatives, including the Prime Minister himself. During my fishing and moose-hunting trip in northern Ontario this fall, I saw firsthand the drills turning, new road access points and the full parking lots as mining projects got underway. I’ve also seen a definite shift in corporate priorities towards sustainability and environmental responsibility sitting firmly
alongside safety and health. This is the right path, I believe, for the next generation of innovation needed for all businesses. Meanwhile, we are also seeing some provocative posts from influential leaders of mega businesses. For example, Tesla’s Elon Musk is seeking to partner with miners with small environmental footprints for manufacturing his battery products. These very public calls to action challenge the mining industry to become more sustainable and environmentally focused from start to final closure of operations compared to past practices. Many mining companies are now setting their internal bar high – aiming to reach a net-zero carbon-emission goal within the next 20 years. The need to create and share technical knowledge is key to achieving that goal and CIM plays a key role as the forum to make that happen. You will read in the Technology section (p. 42) of this issue about the latest in the field of geotechnical engineering. I started my career in a geotechnical role, just as high-end desktop computers and numerical modelling software programs emerged. It was cutting edge at that time with development and testing taking place with a range of stakeholders from government and academics, to industry and specialty consultants. The design tools and new support systems are still as important today and are mainstream for use in our mine designs and operations. This issue’s Upfront section (p. 28) is dedicated to mineral processing. As a mining engineering student at the University of Toronto, I certainly enjoyed learning about mineral processing, but it was over the course of my career that I came to fully understand the importance of the processing plants and the integration with the mine. The complexity within the processing flow sheet and interrelation between geology and metallurgy – or geometallurgy – is an eye opener for many of us. Miners must never forget the downstream processing plants and the importance of delivering a reliable, consistent, quality product to the mill. Together, the mining and milling teams need a plan and schedule of the ideal ore blends and volumes for greatest value recovery, particularly when dealing with varying grades, deleterious elements and polymetallic ores. Kudos to the experts in our industry for continuing to develop best practices and curate technical knowledge. In addition to our print content, CIM virtual events continue as a great venue for sharing technical knowledge. COM 2020 + U2020, our first virtual conference, took place last month, and the Capital Projects Symposium was running just as this magazine was being printed. CMP 2021 will move ahead on a virtual platform as will other conferences, including our premier event, the CIM Convention, next May. If you happen to miss any of these live events, the content will reside on CIM Academy, so you will be able to find it there. Visit academy.cim.org and have a look around. I am so proud of our members and our industry partners and the ways in which we are carrying on through the challenges to ensure the industry remains a solid contributor to society on so many fronts.
Samantha Espley CIM President November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 9
tools of the trade
While Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) monitoring devices and sensors have become more commonplace in underground mines, maintaining these monitors can be a challenge. In response, Maestro Digital Mine has launched the MaestroLink Server, a digital monitoring platform that delivers real-time diagnostics for all of Maestro’s IIoT devices. “Originally, the mining companies were asking for real-time data improving upon the typical end of the shift reports.” Maestro president, CEO and co-founder Michael Gribbons said. “Now they are requiring real-time advanced diagnostics since the data is being used for safety or ventilation controls and the sensors need to be working 100 per cent of the time.” David Ballantyne, CTO and co-founder remarked, “It saves time and cost by giving miners the ability to poll the diagnostics and then turning the data into tangible actions from surface before having to go underground. The support team will go underground the first time with the proper tools, spare parts and equipment to do the maintenance once instead the industry standard requiring multiple trips.”
Courtesy of Maestro Digital Mine
Courtesy of Hitachi ABB
Integrated communications Hitachi ABB has launched a new generation of its Tropos wireless communication solution, the TRO600 series, which integrates multiple technologies into a single communication network. The latest release, the TRO620 DIN-rail mounted cellular router, can use both public and private networks and has a special algorithm to pick the best link that can decrease operational costs and lost time from network congestion or outages. “With the TRO620, we provide a cellular and mesh hybrid communications platform, which means that we can actually take advantage and use the best of both worlds,” Kalina Barboutov, head of wireless presales and business development at Hitachi ABB, said. TRO600 products are compatible with new devices and backwards-compatible for legacy devices, and can be deployed at both open-pit and underground mine sites.
Courtesy of Caterpillar
Versatile dozing Caterpillar’s new D9 dozer is designed for adaptability and offers multiple blades and configurations for various applications. “The D9 offers application-specific machine arrangements, including high debris, stockpile and cold weather,” Todd Cole, dozer application specialist at Caterpillar, told CIM Magazine. “Also, a variety of blades, rippers and winches for the rear are available to complete a wide range of tasks on the mine site.” The dozer also has integrated sensors and machine management tools in order to provide operators with location, operating and machine condition information. According to Caterpillar, new features such as a stator clutch torque converter and automated lubrication system allow the D9 to reduce fuel consumption by up to five per cent and lower maintenance and repair costs by up to four per cent. Compiled by Tijana Mitrovic and Matthew Parizot 10 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Developments The power of collaboration With more than 2,000 entries from over 100 countries, an Australian exploration challenge has taken crowd-sourcing to another level
The winners have been announced for Unearthed Solutions’ Gawler Challenge in Australia, and the response it generated could provide a valuable lesson for the mining industry in Canada and abroad. First announced on Mar. 2 at the PDAC Conference in Toronto, the Gawler Challenge was a contest open to geo- and data-science enthusiasts around the world to try and locate mineral deposits in the Gawler region of South Australia. Contestants used an open data set provided by the South Australian government, and the results of the finalists were published online for the free use of exploration companies working in the region. “It’s the largest [challenge] that we’ve run to date. It had something like 2,200 participants from around the world,” Unearthed’s managing director Justin Strharsky said. “Great response in terms of innovators, and lots of interest from industry with people very curious to see what kind of techniques people can use and what kind of targets people are uncovering.” Team PER-OZ – a collaboration between Paul Pearson from Latin Global and John McLellan from GMEX – took home first prize and A$100,000 for what Australian minister for energy and mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan called “their unique methodology, which could help geologists in the field find that needle in the haystack.” Caldera Analytics, the winner of Unearthed’s 2019 Explorer Challenge, was the runner up. For Strharsky, however, the impact that the challenge has had goes beyond just identifying mineral targets in the Gawler region. Instead, the potential for the kind of knowledge base generated by this challenge could be applicable worldwide.
Courtesy of OZ Minerals
By Matthew Parizot
The online exploration challenge focused on the Gawler region of South Australia where OZ Mineral’s Prominent Hill gold mine is located. “The kinds of things we’re paying attention to is how this will impact industry in general,” he said. “What should Canadian mining companies looking at this challenge think when they see [the results].” The real value, according to Strharsky, is the creation of what he calls an “expert community,” a group of professionals and enthusiasts from around the world who are willing to apply their knowledge to solve difficult problems. In the case of the Gawler Challenge, data scientists and geoscientists collaborated to do “a year’s worth of work in a few months,” combing through the data and identifying potential targets for exploration. Being able to take advantage of a global knowledge base could be valuable in terms of lower-
ing risk and making mining regions more attractive for investment. “We think that the contribution of all these participants in the Gawler Challenge means that the risk has been reduced for somebody investing in exploration in South Australia,” Strharsky said. “If we’re thinking about the flow of capital and resources exploration as kind of a global market, then we’re seeing the ante raised by South Australia in terms of attracting those investment dollars. It’s an open question as to what people are going to do to figure out how to attract the best investment dollars for projects in their jurisdictions, what are they going to do to make that beneficial for the people who live in those jurisdictions, and things like that.” November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 11
“I think the talent pool that participated in this challenge was truly global, [with] more than 100 countries [participating.] This, as an example of the forces that are reshaping both threats and opportunities to industries, should really be paid attention to by any executive or board member of a mining company,” Strharsky said. “How is somebody in any mining province in Canada going to hire enough data scientists to do work on their data, to optimize the mill, to predict throughput, to optimize route planning of trucks…when there’s that much local scarcity in competition with tech
companies and other big industrial companies for data scientists? But globally, there’s a proliferation of those skills because people are learning for free over the net.” “The dynamic that we see is one of local scarcity in digital skills but global abundance,” he continued. “So, mining companies – just like any other companies in any other industry facing the same thing – the ones that are going to be successful in the future are going to figure out how to shift the way that they work to take advantage of the global abundance of digital skills.” CIM
Courtesy of Suncor
Following the announcement, the state government allocated an additional A$5 million from the Economic and Business Growth Fund to the Geological Survey of South Australia to further flesh out the top concepts from the competiton. Aside from running contests to promote exploration in specific regions, the global participation in the Gawler Challenge could be a sign of how companies could treat data analytics in the future. For Strharsky, crowdsourcing difficult data challenges could be a viable option for Canadian companies missing local talent.
Natural Resources Canada invests in clay analysis project Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) awarded $1.6 million on Sept. 16 to the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) under its Clean Growth Program to develop a technology to analyze clay content in oil sands and mine tailings. SRC will use the $1,602,807 in funding to develop the technology, which will measure active clay content in mineral deposits in almost real time, in partnership with Suncor Energy and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Project collaborators are also financially contributing to the project, bringing the total investment to $2.29 million. Clay naturally occurs in mineral deposits and is difficult to remove in tailings since it attracts water. According to NRCan, the clay analyzer will measure clay content in real-time and allow mining companies to develop more effective strategies for process control and tailings management. SRC and its partners are working on building a prototype automated clay analyzer based on the methylene blue index method of measuring clay content in oil sands – an index test that uses blue dye to measure the physical properties of clay through absorption levels – and will use it to test the technology on industrial materials under controlled process conditions. The objective is to develop a device that measures this in real-time as it would allow operators to optimize their fluid tailings treatment, save costs and reduce their use of chemicals and land use for tailings deposits. 12 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Suncor is partnering with NRCan and the Saskatchewan Research Council to help refine its approach to tailings management and reclamation at its oil sands mining operations in Northern Alberta. “The project will provide mining operators with an important measurement device that can be used in concert with process control techniques to automate and enhance the efficacy of tailings treatment, thereby improving water recycling and accelerating reclamation,” explained Saskatchewan’s Minister of Trade and Export Development, Jeremy Harrison. “It is expected there will be savings in operating costs and in energy and water use and a reduction in waste, which will create efficiencies and reduce the overall environmental impact of mining.” According to NRCan, the project will help miners reduce tailings deposit footprints and land disturbances, allowing “a faster path to reclamation, and a smaller overall footprint of mining.” The technology is also expected to reduce operating costs, energy and by-products and wastes and be applicable to different types of mines, from diamond to potash and more. – Tijana Mitrovic
Osisko Royalties to create new mine development company Osisko Gold Royalties announced on Oct. 5 that it has entered into an agreement with Barolo Ventures to create a new mine development company. Under the agreement, Osisko Royalties will transfer various mining properties and a portfolio of securities valued at $116 million to Barolo in exchange for the company’s common shares, resulting in a reverse take-over and the creation of a new company named Osisko Development. Once the deal is closed, Osisko Royalties will own an 88 per cent stake in the new company, and 11.8 per cent and 0.2 per cent will be owned by the holders of sold subscription receipts and Barolo shares, respectively. According to the announcement, the development company was created in order to streamline Osisko Royalties’
responsibilities while retaining royalty interests in the new company’s mine projects. “We are very pleased to announce this spin-out transaction, which will simplify Osisko Royalties into a pure-play royalty and streaming company, while maintaining exposure to the company-making assets contributed to Osisko Development,” Osisko Royalties president Sandeep Singh said. Per the agreement, Osisko Royalties will transfer its Cariboo Gold project, Bonanza Ledge II and James Bay properties in Canada and its San Antonio project and Guerrero properties in Mexico to the new company. Osisko Development will also receive an equity portfolio valued at $116 million. The company will aim to begin producing over 100,000 ounces of gold per year from Bonanza Ledge II and the San Antonio project in the near term. Osisko Royalties also provided an update on the Cariboo Gold project, which is expected to be Osisko Development’s flagship property. The company announced an updated mineral resource
Courtesy of Osisko Gold Royalties
Osisko’s Caribou gold project in B.C. is expected to be Osisko Development’s flagship project. estimate, featuring an estimated measured and indicated resource of 3.2 million ounces of gold from 21.4 million tonnes grading at 4.6 grams per tonne. The project also has an estimated inferred resource of 2.7 million ounces of gold
from 21.6 million tonnes grading at 3.9 grams per tonne. The company expects to complete a feasibility study on the project in the second half of 2021, and to receive all permits for the project in 2022. – Tijana Mitrovic
Sustainable We’ve helped mines around the world reduce their energy consumption and lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Your energy challenge may not be straightforward, but our solution can be. stantec.com/mining
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 13
Courtesy of Covergalls
FROM THE WIRE Compiled by Tijana Mitrovic
Inspire Resources has appointed Jocelyn Fraser as vice-president of shared value. Fraser is currently conducting post-doctoral work at the University of British Columbia, focusing on social risk and social responsibility in the global mining sector. In this position, she will focus on delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tara Hassan has been appointed as
vice-president of corporate development at SilverCrest Metals. Hassan is a mining engineer and has over 15 years of experience in mining technology, project development and more and has spent a significant part of her career as an equity research analyst of precious metals. Geomega Resources has nominated Nicholas Nickoletopoulos as a director for its board of directors. Nickoletopoulos has over 25 years of operational, technical and executive experience in the metals industry, and has held management positions at Urecon, Sivaco Wire Group and more. He is currently president, managing director and minority shareholder of Metalunic. John Burzynski has been appointed
as chairman of Osisko Mining’s board of directors. He will remain as CEO of the company and succeeds Sean Roosen as nonexecutive chairman of the board. Mathieu Savard has also been promoted to president. has appointed Marc to vice-president of resource industries sales, services and technology. Cameron has 20 years of experience in mining and construction and previously worked at Rio Tinto, where he held multiple leadership positions.
Harte Gold has appointed Frazer Bourchier as president, CEO and director of the company’s board. Bourchier succeeds Sam Coetzer, who has stepped down as president and CEO but will remain on the board. Martin Raffield has stepped down as executive vice-president and COO and will remain as a consultant until the 2020 fourth quarter. Dan Gagnon has been appointed vice-president of operations.
14 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Yamana will collaborate with the Artemis Project’s network of members, such as Alicia Woods’ femalefocused personal protective gear company, Covergalls.
Yamana Gold steps up to support female entrepreneurs Yamana Gold will work with female entrepreneurs in mining under the Artemis Project umbrella By Tijana Mitrovic
Yamana Gold has partnered with Artemis Project to promote and advance female entrepreneurs in mining. As its founding industry sponsor, the gold miner will collaborate with companies in the Artemis Project network to diversify its supply chain and advance its innovation and sustainability. Entrepreneurs themselves, Heather Gamble and Laura Mottola founded Artemis Project in 2018. Gamble, CEO of Women on the Move, and Mottola, president and CEO of Flow Partners, met when Mottola joined Gamble’s business accelerator at Women on the Move. A well-regarded mining engineer, Mottola attracted more female entrepreneurs in mining to join Women on the Move, and the two entrepreneurs began thinking about how to help them. Gamble and Mottola started Artemis Project as a way to accelerate business outcomes for women working in the industry. “We thought that there [had]
to be a better way that we [could] help female entrepreneurs in mining because we didn’t see anything being done in any systematic way to address this,” Gamble explained. “So we co-created a new model.” Gamble and Mottola founded a collective of female entrepreneurs with highly specialized knowledge and products for the mining industry, which they support through continuous business development and training. Artemis members include Zoe Coull, corrosion specialist and founder of ICE Dragon Corrosion, which specializes in corrosion risk management strategies and corrosion control plans; Sabrina Dias, founder and CEO of mining and sustainability consulting firm SOOP Strategies; and Alicia Woods, founder of Covergalls, which makes personal protective gear designed for women. “We’re pleased to support Artemis Project as the founding industry spon-
sor, and we welcome the opportunity to develop further business relationships with these outstanding entrepreneurs,” said Yohann Bouchard, senior vicepresident of operations at Yamana Gold. “On an industry level, we believe that partnering with organizations like Artemis Project will help raise industry standards by increasing support for female entrepreneurs, an innovative source of talent whose products and services can only make our industry better.” Yamana Gold and Artemis Project have already been working together for over a year, and several Artemis members and businesses have had work contracts with the gold miner. “One of the things that’s really important to us… is [driving] incremental business activities for female entrepreneurs in mining,” said Gamble. “Once we have partners such as Yamana, it’s our role to work with [them and] develop long, productive relationships with them and with our Artemis members.” Artemis Project is working to expand its member network and sponsors and
partnerships with mining companies. Currently, the company is working with Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses, but plans to expand globally with more time and resources. The company is also currently working on a project to consolidate and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the Canadian mining and metals industry, with funding from the federal government. CIM
Courtesy of Geoscience BC
Geoscience BC study suggests a new tool for copper exploration A close-up view of a zircon mineral grain.
A new Geoscience BC report highlights a new method to help explorers more effectively locate copper deposits. According to the Assessing Porphyry Copper Deposit Fertility in British Columbia Batholiths using Zircons report, examining zircon mineral grains for specific characteristics can help explorers identify possible copper deposits. Zircon is a porphyry indicator mineral (PIM), which are minerals that can
identify rocks hosting potential porphyry copper deposits. Its grains contain chemical and textural characteristics that can be used to determine the conditions of a rock formation, such as the age of the rock and the environment in which it formed. “Zircon, along with other PIMs, can be used to identify those rocks that were capable of making copper deposits
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– Tijana Mitrovic 16 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines
even though the actual deposit may not be exposed at the surface,” explained Farhad Bouzari, lead researcher on the study and research associate at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Mineral Deposit Research Unit. Since zircon and other PIMs are resistant to weathering, they can be used to locate copper deposits that are covered by glacial sediments. Bouzari and the research team first began studying PIMs as an exploration tool in 2009 with support from Geoscience BC. Researchers studied 42 rock samples from British Columbia’s south central and north central regions, which is host to several porphyry copper deposits including Taseko Mines’ Gibraltar mine and Teck Resources’ Highland Valley mine. Zircon mineral grains were then selected from the rock samples and analyzed using laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry, an analytical technique that uses a laser beam to analyze sample material for element and isotopic content. The grains were studied at UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research for major elements, trace elements and properties – such as colour, shape, inclusion populations and zoning – which were then documented. According to Bouzari, the researchers focused on characterizing zircon textures first, as it can be a faster and more cost-effective exploration approach. “For this reason, we extensively utilized cold cathodoluminescence microscopy, which is an old but amazing technique that bombards the grain with electrons so that we can see the internal texture.” The study determined that characteristics of zircon mineral grains associated with porphyry copper formation can be used as a tool for explorers to identify exploration targets for copper deposits more efficiently and effectively. “These mineral clues will help mineral exploration companies to focus their activities in smaller areas,” Bouzari said. “Geological mapping, geochemical and geophysical tools will all continue to play key roles in the exploration for copper deposits in BC, but the examination of PIMs such as zircon will provide explorers with additional information on the potential of a rock or a region and will influence exploration-decision making.”
One scenario for the Kamoa-Kakula complex would have it produce 19 million tonnes of copper annually over a 40-year mine life.
Feasibility study outlines plan for Kamoa-Kakula to become world’s secondlargest copper mine On Sept. 8, Ivanhoe Mines released a comprehensive integrated development plan (IDP) for its Kamoa-Kakula complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The IDP features plans for phased development at the complex’s mining operations and confirms that it could reach production of more than 800,000 tonnes of copper a year and become the world’s second largest copper mine. The three plans in the IDP include a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Kakula mine, a pre-feasibility study for mining at Kansoko and Kakula as well as a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) linking the overall development of the different copper deposits at the Komoa-Kakula complex. According to the DFS, stage one of the Kakula mine would produce six million tonnes of copper per year over the course of a 21-year mine life. The study also indicated that the mine would have an after-tax net present value with a discount rate of eight per cent of US$5.5 billion, an internal rate of return of 77 per cent, a payback of 2.3 years and a cash
cost of US$0.48 per pound of copper during the first five years of operation. The pre-feasibility study evaluated the option of mining 1.6 million tonnes of copper per year from the Kansoko deposit in addition to the Kakula deposit. The study indicated that the complex would produce an average of 331,000 tonnes of copper per year at a mine-site cash cost of US$0.55 per pound of copper over a 37-year mine life. Lastly, the PEA evaluated a scenario in which initial production at the complex would begin at the Kakula Mine, followed by subsequent, separate underground mining operations at the nearby Kansoko, Kakula West and Kamoa North mines. The results indicated that in this scenario, the complex would produce 19 million tonnes of copper per year over a mine life of more than 40 years. According to the assessment, annual production at the complex would average 501,000 tonnes at a total cash cost of US$1.07 per pound of copper during the first decade of operations and reach more than 800,000 tonnes of copper by the eighth year of production, which would make it the world’s second largest copper mine. “The definitive feasibility study is an independent verification by nine of the world’s top engineering firms of the
developments robust economics generated by our initial, 6 million tonnes per year starter mine at Kakula; while the updated preliminary economic assessment is further validation of Kamoa-Kakula’s potential to rapidly expand to become the world’s second largest copper mine, with annual copper output of more than 800,000 tonnes,” said Robert Friedland, co-chair of Ivanhoe Mines. Ivanhoe Mines has a 39.6 per cent stake in Kamoa-Kakula, while its partners Zijin Mining, Crystal River Global and the DRC government have stakes of 39.6, 0.8 and 20 per cent, respectively. The company estimates the remaining initial capital costs for the phased development of Kamoa-Kakula is US$700 million, an estimated US$650 million of which is needed to complete the Kakula mine. Currently, underground development of the Kakula mine is six kilometres ahead of schedule and equipment for the mine’s processing plant is being installed. Initial copper production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2021. – Tijana Mitrovic
O3 Mining releases economic assessment results for Marban gold project On Sept. 8, O3 Mining released the results from an independent preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Marban project in Val-d’Or, Quebec. According to the PEA, Marban would process 11,000 tonnes of ore per day over a 15.2-year mine life and exceed production of 130,000 ounces of gold per year over the first 12 years, with peak production of more than 161,000 ounces of gold in the mine’s ninth year at a gold price of US$1,450 per ounce. The results also indicate an after-tax net present value of $423 million, an after-tax internal rate of return of 25.2 per cent and a payback period of four years. The project has an initial capital cost of $256 million and would have an all-in sustaining cost of US$822 per ounce of gold. The company believes that Marban has the geological potential to extend the
mine life beyond the 15.2 years outlined in the PEA, and believes that ongoing exploration and drilling could increase the project’s mineral resource. “Marban has shown potential to become a highly profitable gold mine in one of the most prolific producing regions in Canada,” said Jose Vizquerra, president, CEO and director of O3 Mining. “The Marban Geological team has demonstrated the ability to identify an abundance of gold resources over a very short period. The ongoing drill program will continue to add to and upgrade resources as we seek to move the project forward towards production.” The Marban project is part of O3 Mining’s Malartic property in Quebec’s Abitibi region. The project area covers three past-producing mines which produced 585,000 ounces of gold between 1959 and 1992. The company will begin working on a pre-feasibility study and environmental impact studies and plans to continue drilling and exploration programs on the property. – Tijana Mitrovic
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 17
Courtesy of Nouveau Monde Graphite
The new development will have a positive effect on the Matawinie graphite project, with Nouveau Monde estimating a top line increase of between 20 and 25 per cent.
Nouveau Monde aims to add capacity and profits with silicon By incorporating silicon into its battery anode material development, Nouveau Monde Graphite will reuse waste material to create a high value secondary product By Tijana Mitrovic
Nouveau Monde Graphite has made what it is calling a breakthrough in the development of its lithium-ion battery anode material. The Quebec-based company began developing lithium-ion battery anode material, used in electric vehicles, three years ago with professor Lionel Roué from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), a specialist in silicon anode material, and recently announced a significant advance in the process. The new breakthrough increases capacity and profitability and reuses waste materials by incorporating silicon into surplus graphite material. “What we are doing... [is] developing a fully vertically integrated project from the rock, from the deposit, to the finished battery materials, providing a [more sustainable] solution for the customer,” said Nouveau Monde president and CEO Eric Desaulniers. “The main product is spherical graphite, so you need to take the slate graphite that’s coming out of the rock 18 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
and then produce coated, spherical graphite, typically between 15 and 20 microns. [The customers] want it fully purified with a carbon coating around it, [that’s] the primary product.” According to Nouveau Monde, the current process only yields 60 per cent of usable micronised graphite which is used to make the primary product for its battery anode material. The remaining 40 per cent is then sold on the market as a low-value product. “The problem in the process… of micronising and shaping the slate graphite, you lose about 40 per cent of micronised graphite,” Desaulniers explained. “Until last week, [that] was a product that you could actually not really use in lithium-ion batteries.” Under the new breakthrough, the remaining graphite material is agglomerated into particles of 16 to 20 microns, after which silicon nanoparticles are added, creating a commercially desirable particle. According to Desaulniers, the result is a valuable product for battery
making from what would otherwise be waste material. “It is overall increasing our economics, we can provide a better price and we are more sustainable by reusing the low-value materials and making a high-value material,” he explained. While the company’s primary product will still be used for the electric vehicle market, the new secondary product’s longer cycle life and smaller graphite particles can be used for additional applications. The company’s research and development team is also currently designing products that optimize the silicon-enhanced graphite materials. By creating a process that allows the company to sell 100 per cent of its production at a premium price rather than just 60 per cent, Nouveau Monde hopes that it will attract battery makers looking to reduce costs. The new development will also have a positive impact at the company’s Matawinie graphite project in SaintMichel-des-Saints, Quebec. By imple-
developments menting the process at the project, Desaulniers estimates that the company’s top line will increase by 20 to 25 per cent. Whereas the company would sell the previous waste material for around $500 per tonne, “now [we] can potentially sell it at somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000 per tonne thanks to the high-value particles that we will have built,” he explained. Nouveau Monde received a $340,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to continue its work on the project. The company is also providing approximately $180,000 towards the three-year program, which will focus on producing primary particles and reusing rejected material to make secondary particles at a pilot facility. “Our commitment is clear,” explained Desaulniers. “We want to be the graphite supplier that understands how graphite interacts with silicon and [makes] sure
we make the right products for customers [over] the next decade.” Nouveau Monde is currently working on the detailed engineering and procurement plans for its pilot project and is waiting to receive a mining permit from the Quebec government before starting construction on the facility, purification furnaces and more. Nouveau Monde also
recently announced a collaboration agreement with Forge Nano to use that company’s proprietary coating technology to coat its spherical graphite for battery anode material. The company plans to commission the demonstration facility for initial production by mid-2021 and expects to begin commercial production in 2023. CIM
Kinross Gold buys stake in Alaskan gold project for US$93.7 million
purchase a further 30 per cent stake in the project from CORE Alaska for US$44.5 million. Contango Ore, which owns CORE Alaska, will retain a 30 per cent non-operating interest in the project. The company has described the project as a low-risk “tuck-in” and plans to use it to supplement its existing Alaska operations. “The relatively high-grade, low-cost Peak Gold project is an excellent addition to our portfolio, as it allows us to leverage our existing mill and infrastructure at Fort Knox and strengthens
Kinross Gold announced on Sept. 30 that it will acquire a 70 per cent interest in Royal Gold’s Peak Gold joint venture project in Alaska for US$93.7 million. Forty per cent of that stake in the project will come from purchasing Royal Alaska, a subsidiary of Royal Gold, for US$49.2 million. The company will also
Strategic Mine Planning with New Digital Technologies, Risk Management and Mineral Value Chains At the time of a continuing rebound of metal markets, learn how the application of new digital technologies can add substantial value to strategic mine planning and asset valuation. The new technologies and related tools integrate technical risk management while capitalizing on the synergies amongst the elements of mineral value chains through their simultaneous optimization – from mines to products to markets. INSTRUCTORS Roussos Dimitrakopoulos, McGill University, Canada and Ryan Goodfellow, Newmont, USA • DATE September 2021
Geostatistical Mineral Resource Estimation and Meeting the New Regulatory Environment: Step by Step from Sampling to Grade Control This course is designed according to the latest regulations on public reporting of Mineral Resources. It aims at showing how state-of-theart statistical and geostatistical techniques help answer the requirements of those regulations in an objective and reproducible manner. A particular emphasis is put on understanding sampling and estimation errors and how to assign levels of estimation confidence through the application of resource classification fundamentals. In addition to a solid introduction to mining geostatistics, this course provides a comprehensive overview of industry best practices in the broader field of Mineral Resource estimation. INSTRUCTORS Georges Verly, Wood, Canada and Roussos Dimitrakopoulos, McGill University, Canada • DATE September 2021
THESE SEMINARS MAY RUN REMOTELY. ALL REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS WILL BE ADVISED
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 19
Courtesy of Kinross Gold
Feeding the higher-grade Peak Gold ore with Fort Knox’s ore will save US$70 of all-in sustaining costs per ounce, according to Kinross.
– Tijana Mitrovic 20 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Taseko’s Gibraltar mine takes home top provincial reclamation award The British Columbia Technical Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR) announced that Taseko Mines had won the Jake McDonald Annual Award for Metal Mine Reclamation for “outstanding achievement in mine reclamation” at its Gibraltar copper mine in south-central B.C. Taseko was presented with the award on Sept. 23 at the TRCR’s 43rd annual Mine Reclamation Symposium, which
Courtesy of Taseko Mines
our medium-term production and cash flow profile,” Kinross president and CEO J. Paul Rollinson said. “In today’s gold price environment, Peak Gold is an attractive, high-margin project that is expected to generate robust returns.” Kinross plans to transport ore from the project to its Fort Knox mine, where it will blend the project’s higher grade ore with the ore at Fort Knox. The company estimates that this will reduce Fort Knox’s average all-in sustaining costs by US$70 per ounce of gold and extend the mill’s operating life. According to a 2018 preliminary economic assessment, the project has a measured and indicated resource of 1.2 million ounces from 9.2 million tonnes grading 4.1 grams per tonne. It also contains an estimated inferred resource of 116,000 ounces of gold from 1.3 million tonnes grading 2.7 grams per tonne. The company has conducted its own preliminary estimates for the project. Assuming a gold price of US$1,200 per ounce, Kinross says the project will produce one million ounces of gold over 4.5 years at an average grade of six grams per tonne and an all-in sustaining cost of about US$750 per ounce of gold. The company plans to spend US$110 million in initial capital expenditures. Kinross plans to begin a drilling program in order to further develop the project’s resource base, and expects to complete permitting as well as a feasibility study by the end of 2022. Production at the project is planned to begin in 2024.
was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Gibraltar had previously won the TRCR’s Metal Mine Reclamation Award back in 2012. “What a great honour for our employees. Gibraltar has been operating for nearly 50 years, generating opportunity for people and economic benefit for communities in the Cariboo,” Taseko president and CEO Russell Hallbauer said. “The efforts of our Gibraltar employees continue to be rewarded by achievements like this high-profile award. It is gratifying to see their talent and ingenuity being recognized at the highest levels. Gibraltar is proof of mining sustainability in action.” According to the TRCR, Gibraltar won the award “for its programs centred on collaborative research.” “The company was able to demonstrate innovation in techniques and in research that expand on insight into lesser studied ecological communities in reclamation,” said TRCR awards subcommittee chair Tim Antill. “In addition, the company has demonstrated a collaborative approach with the local Indigenous community that pairs both traditional and scientific knowledge and communication.” Specifically, the TRCR references Taseko’s scientific research on soil microbial communities with institutions such as BCIT, Simon Fraser University and Mitacs, as well as the company’s partnerships with the local Xatśūll First Nation and Northern Shuswap Tribal Council to
Pictured left to right: Dave Feil – Fisheries Manager, Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, Mike Stinson – Xat ll First Nation, Chief Sheri Sellars – Xat ll First Nation, Ben Pierce – General Manager, Gibraltar Mine, Richard Tremblay – Vice President, Operations, Taseko Mines, Stuart McDonald – President, Taseko Mines.
pair traditional and scientific knowledge in its Fraser River Salmon Sampling Program. According to Taseko’s 2020 Sustainability Report, the salmon sampling program was first established in 2016 as part of the mine’s obligations to its Fraser River discharge permit and is conducted annually. With the exception of 2019 (where there was no sampling due to the massive Big Bar landslide that decimated the river’s salmon population), Taseko said there were no ill effects to the sockeye salmon and fish caught at First Nations traditional fishing sites. “I am proud of the work Xatśūll First Nation community members have done in partnership with Taseko-Gibraltar,” Xatśūll First Nation Chief Sheri Sellars said. “The fish-sampling program and the reclamation work have been award-winning successes. Our members have also benefitted from employment opportunities and educational initiatives which stem from our relationship with Gibraltar.” Other awards given out at the symposium include Orca Sand and Gravel receiving the Sand and Gravel Category Award for its planning and implementation of reclamation and Teck Metals winning a Metal Mining Category Award for the implementation of its Lower Mine Yard groundwater interception systems. The Tony Milligan Book Award was also presented to the best paper delivered at last year’s symposium, D.K. Rainey’s “Geochemical challenges associated with water treatment at abandoned or neglected mines in southeast Yukon”. – Matthew Parizot
Alfie Grigg has joined Turquoise Hill’s board of directors. Grigg
has over 20 years of experience as a legal executive and advisor, and is currently chief counsel for Rio Tinto’s aluminum operations in the Pacific region. Alan Chirgwin has resigned from his board position. Fireweed Zinc has appointed James Scott to senior vice-president of projects. Scott has over 18 years of experience in mineral exploration in development, and has worked at Kaminak Gold, Goldcorp and Richfield. Anna Ladd-Kruger has joined McEwen Mining as its new
CFO. She has over 20 years of leadership experience in the mining industry and has previously held CFO positions at Excellon Resources and Trevali Mining. Steven Williams has resigned as president, director and CEO of Pasinex Resources. Larry Seeley has been appointed as exec-
utive chair of the company’s board of directors, as well as chair of its human resources committee. Teck has appointed Alejandro Vásquez as vice-president of South America and Justine Fisher as vice-president and treasurer, who will succeed Chris Dechert and Scott Wilson, respectively. Amber Johnston-Billings has been appointed vice-president of communities, government affairs and HSEC systems, succeeding Mark Edwards. Jeff Hanman has been appointed to the new position of vice-president of the office of the CEO and Doug Brown will succeed him as vice-president of corporate affairs. Steve Higgins has been appointed as the chairman of the Inter-
national Copper Association’s board of directors. Higgins is currently senior vice-president and chief administrative officer at Freeport-McMoRan and will serve in the position for two years, succeeding Ivan Arriagada.
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 21
Courtesy of Andy Small
Making a difference Geotechnical engineer Andy Small advises mining students to consider working with tailings dams and to remember that professional reputations are worth developing and protecting By Kelsey Rolfe
ndy Small is a tailings dam specialist and it’s a career that he thinks engineering students and recent graduates should definitely consider when contemplating their futures. Small didn’t set out to work in tailings dam safety – he just knew he wanted to work on large-scale projects that could make a real difference. After graduating from the University of New Brunswick’s civil engineering program, he headed out west to do his master’s degree at the University of Alberta. When he joined a consulting firm in 1989 near Fort McMurray, he had his first exposure to a tailings dam at Suncor’s original oil sands mine. According to Small, the Suncor site was a dam engineer’s Disney World, with several complex dams near a significant waterway, cutting edge technologies to work with and exceptional world-class mentors. Small worked for three years each in Saskatoon and Sudbury before returning to the Maritimes in 1999. Over the course of his career, Small, now a senior geotechnical consultant at Klohn Crippen Berger, has played a critical role in the growth of tailings dam safety as an engineering discipline.
CIM Magazine: How did you get into tailings dam engineering and safety? Small: I wanted to be a civil engineer because I liked building things, I liked seeing the results of my efforts and I knew I wanted to be involved in projects that were large scale. As university went on, I became intrigued by dams, and when I did my 22 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
master’s program in Alberta, I was exposed to tailings dams and I thought, ‘This is very interesting. They’re big, interesting and complex.’ They’re significant structures, with a range of technical challenges and significant consequences of failures. My first job was with tailings dams at Suncor, and that’s really what propelled me.
CIM: It sounds like you didn’t have a set plan for your career in university. Small: That’s a really key point – there was no plan other than a fundamental desire to make a difference, to really help. I have a strong desire to help people succeed and I find many engineers are wired that way. Many young people gravitate to engineering because they want to solve problems and they want to help, they want to make a difference. When you come out as a young engineer, you really don’t have much of a clue as to how that’s going to look. All you know is you have a desire to help and you can solve a problem. If you build on those traits, you can accomplish a lot.
CIM: Why would you encourage young mining engineers to consider working in tailings dam safety? Small: To begin with, it is fascinating work. I believe it is interesting for many reasons: the diverse skill set needed, the fact that no two jobs are the same, and that it encompasses many different areas of civil engineering and the fact it's large scale.
mining mentors There’s going to be a shortage of talent in the coming years, and with the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, there will be a further demand on tailings engineers. The clients and owners are passionate about trying to do the right thing and they sincerely are trying to protect people and the environment. Many owners are allocating sufficient resources to make that happen. I think it’s a great career opportunity for a young person; we need them and we, as an industry, have to find ways to develop and grow young talent effectively.
document. It represented the best practices in Canada, at that time, for tailings dam safety. That document is now used around the world. In 2014, one month after we issued the mining dams bulletin, I identified five other gaps that needed to be filled and put together committees to address those. While this effort has benefited the mining industry, it provided me with a huge opportunity that I didn’t anticipate. I got to work with some of the best people in the world on tailings dam safety – learning from them and incorporating their ideas.
CIM: You’ve done a lot of mentoring in the industry and talking to engineering students. What’s a piece of advice you always try to pass on? Small: I try to impart how important leadership is, and that
CIM: Is there a really valuable skill you’ve developed in the course of your career? Small: When I graduated, I thought I was an effective commu-
sometimes being a leader means you have to follow effectively. Leadership isn’t just about being the boss. It’s moving initiatives forward, it’s creating something from nothing – taking what I call disparate threads and putting them together into something that hasn’t been done before. You can be a leader at a young age by assisting in a project in a way that adds value. I get really excited to see young engineers who didn’t just do what I asked, but who gave it extra thought and took it to another level. Getting involved in university or professional organizations is another important aspect, as is using that involvement as an opportunity to develop leadership skills in an environment outside of work. That allows you to develop ways of working effectively with people, improve your communication skills, and learn how to take on a project and execute it. Although leadership is important, it needs to be tempered with coachability. Young engineers have a lot to learn. Sometimes more experienced engineers want to take young engineers under their wings and coach them. Young engineers should let this happen. They can help the process along by communicating effectively, putting their trust in their mentors and demonstrating leadership potential.
CIM: Was there a particular organization you got involved with that you found professionally or personally rewarding? Small: In the late 1990s or early 2000s, I became involved with the Canadian Dam Association, which is focused on how to make dams safe by bringing together consultants, academics, suppliers, regulators and owners of the dams. Members of the CDA are pulling together on the same rope to make dams safe and as a result the CDA has developed guidance that is used around the world for safe dams. I got quite involved in the 2000s. I helped organize conferences, I wrote papers, I conducted workshops, and I developed guidance documents. In many cases, I took disparate ideas and brought them together into something new that added value. In the 2000s, for example, it became apparent that there was no good guidance for dam safety in the mining industry. The CDA had guidelines for the hydropower industry but not for the mining industry, and I saw that as a gap. In 2007, I created a new committee with the CDA to address this gap and chaired it for eight years. While I was chairman, I led the preparation of a guidance document on mining dam safety, which took six years to write. I held workshops across the country and engaged 300 people in the preparation of that
nicator, but over the first 10 years of my career, I found that I had a lot to learn. Even now, there are times when my communication style is not as effective as it could be. I wish I had spent more time in the early years of my career learning more about communication and different communication styles. We can’t use the same communication style for all of the people we interact with. But, I did not figure that out for many years. We often take communication for granted and do not think our own communication style could be a problem. We could do more to equip our young engineers with the tools to be effective communicators. I would encourage young engineers to find ways to learn more about how to be an effective communicator, as there is much to learn.
CIM: What’s something you’ve learned during your time in the industry that you wish you’d known when you were graduating? Small: How important your reputation and credibility are and how fleeting they can be if you are not careful. Especially in the age of emails and social media, where a misworded phrase can be misconstrued. So, work hard to protect your reputation and credibility, recognizing that there will be many times when you will have no idea who is paying attention. As a final remark, I would want new graduates to experience as much as possible and to find something they love. Then their career choice will never become a burden. Second, the dam industry is a specialized field, with some very passionate, talented individuals working in it. From working in this industry, I have learned a significant amount from the many people I have had the good fortune to work with. If I were a new graduate again, I would want to know that I am on a lifelong learning curve and try and work with people who can teach me something new and challenge me every day and remember to do the same for others. CIM
mining mentorS Running throughout 2020, our Mining Mentors series will feature conversations with industry veterans and budding professionals on strategies for building a career in mining. Do you know someone who should be featured in this section? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 23
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Surface Mine Geotech
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Mining Life Cycle
Pit to Port
Geology: Mineralizing Systems and Beyond
Working with the Rock
Social Engagement, Partnerships & Transparency
Environmental Engagement and Expertise
Changing World of Health and Safety
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Courtesy of Robert E. McIvor
The essential grind By Robert E. McIvor
he published world on comminution is as perplexing as it is vast. A recent investigation, “The Truth About Population Balance Modelling of Ball Milling,” presented at the 2020 CMP, revealed a history of misinformation that has been obscured by conceptual and mathematical complexity. However, there are a number of publications, identified over the length of my career, that every metallurgist should read to gain an appreciation of the basics of grinding and classification. “Ball Mill Crushing in Closed Circuit with Screens,” by Davis, E. W., 1925, Bulletin of University of Minnesota, No. 10, Minnesota School of Mines Experiment Station. This is the definitive work on the relationship between ball milling circuit productivity and the circulating load ratio. Don’t let the words “crushing” or “screens” throw you off, this is about ball mill grinding (or whatever term you use for size reduction) and the classifier (whether screens or cyclones) interaction. That a high circulating load is essential for efficient circuit operation (incredibly, sometimes still debated in some circles) is proven. The underlying reason is that the mill contents contain increasingly more “coarse” size material (plus product size, typically indicated by the circuit P80) as the mill residence time per pass is shortened with increasing circulating load. Besides pumping costs (in particular, replacement wear parts and associated downtime), the only constraints are flow rates so high that the mill overloads or grinding balls are carried out with the discharge slurry. Every operator should strive (by design, or re-design) for a high circulating load in their ball mill circuits, and this paper clearly shows why. “Pulp Densities Within Operating Ball Mills,” by Davis, E. W., 1945, Issued as Technical Paper 1843 of AIME, Mining Technology, May. This is perhaps the only work ever conducted that provides the actual material contents of a continuously operating, wetgrinding ball mill. These were measured by crash-stopping an operating pilot plant ball mill and collecting and analyzing the entire contents. Among key observations are the relative size distributions of mill feed, mill discharge and the mill contents, and the preferential retention of solids vs. water, as demonstrated by the relative percent solids of these streams. The assumption of equal solids and water retention used by mill “modellers” is simply destroyed. Like his 1925 work publication, Davis gives us a unique look into what is actually happening inside a ball mill. “Crushing and Grinding Calculations,” by Bond, F. C., 196162, reprinted from British Chemical Engineering by AllisChalmers Industrial Press Department. This is the premier Bond Work Index equation application manual. Bond presents use of his breakthrough formula relating comminution circuit feed size (F80), circuit product size (P80) and the ore Work Index to industrial equipment energy
usage. It covers crushing, rod and ball milling. The Bond Ball Mill Work Index remains today as the only tool used for ball mill scale-up design. For an (only nominally, not at all materially modified) update on its use for industrial mill sizing, see Rowland, C. A., Jr., 1982, “Selection of Rod Mills, Ball Mills, Pebble Mills, and Regrind Mills,” Chapter 23, Design and Installation of Comminution Circuits, SME of AIME. For the application of the Bond Work Index as a standard tool to measure size reduction circuit energy efficiency, see the Global Mining Standards and Guideline Group website, at gmggroup.org. “The Selection and Sizing of Hydrocyclones,” by Arterburn, R. A., 1982, Chapter 32, Design and Installation of Comminution Circuits, SME of AIME. Arterburn manages to unravel the extremely difficult and complex process of cyclone application, specifically for grinding circuits but broadly applicable in mineral processing, into a series of simple steps. It is impossible to describe just how masterfully this treatise dealt with such a difficult topic. “Primary Autogenous Grinding – A Study of Ball Charge Effects,” by Turner, R. R., 1979, Autogenous Grinding Seminar, Trondheim. Through a series of pilot plant fully autogenous and semiautogenous mill tests with different ball charge levels, Turner demonstrates how impact and abrasion can work synergistically on different ores to provide overall size reduction as efficiently as the multiple stages of crushing and grinding that the (S)AG mill replaces. To do so, he analyzed the entire mill contents under different conditions and associated grinding performances. The understanding of basic (S)AG milling mechanisms that this work provides was unprecedented, and remains unsurpassed today. Warning, it will make you ask how the industry has lost sight of the essential relationships that Turner demonstrated, and are not being used in current (S)AG mill design and operation. Armed with the knowledge passed on by these important works, the new metallurgist, as well as the veteran, can more readily deal with the variety and complexity of the information and advice that they will encounter in their professional lives. CIM The majority of these papers are available on OneMine, which can be accessed by CIM National members through CIM.org. The magazine.cim.org version of this column includes links to the papers cited.
Robert E. McIvor is Chief Metallurgist—Grinding Systems at Metcom Technologies, Inc.
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November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 25
Courtesy of Doris Hiam-Galvez
Designing Sustainable Prosperity By Doris Hiam-Galvez
he development and operation of a mine results in several years of intense activity followed by the dramatic reduction of employment and opportunities after the mine is closed. Designing Sustainable Prosperity (DSP) is a method for mining companies to improve this situation by designing for long-term growth in a mine’s region. If successful, vibrant, long-lasting businesses should be the result for the regions affected by mining. The objective of DSP is to establish diverse and innovative industries in mining-dominated regions, which have a significant positive impact on the communities and are not dependent on any single commodity. These industries are not necessarily associated with mining and to be effective will have to successfully compete in the global market while striving to reduce their environmental impact. During the DSP process, the mining company transitions from the sole provider of employment to a catalyst for regional development. DSP uses multidiscipline skills to design solutions, services, products and technologies that will be needed in the future based on a region’s natural resources, possible energy sources, infrastructure needs and solutions for waste. Sustainable prosperity is a long-term effort requiring substantial initial planning. It requires collaboration between local communities, national governments, industry, financiers, engineers and scientists.
Implementing DSP The concept of DSP uses engineering principles to determine the attributes of a region by integrating community aspirations and market conditions with the available skill sets. The initial
framework must be established early in the mine life to ensure that the appropriate education and skills training is carried out to enable appropriate sustainable regional development upon mine closure. To build a sustainable economy, the following key elements are required: • There must be a potential for economic development for the region: DSP starts by looking at the region’s natural resources and skills available, the infrastructure and possible energy sources using integrated natural resource models, followed by education and skills requirements, to determine the potential for the region and what needs to be done to realize the possibilities. • There must be a potential market for the intended products or services: Innovative market studies need to evaluate the potential market for products, services or industries that the region could serve competitively and globally beyond the life of mine. • The potential identified and designed DSP: Once the potential and the market have been established, create a plan for how to realize the potential. • There needs to be a champion who knows what it takes to make it happen and is capable of implementing this strategy. Without key leaders with the right vision and skills to motivate and drive efforts, the plan will languish. • The appropriate stakeholders must be brought to the table: Bringing along key stakeholders during the whole DSP process will help achieve buy-in. Involving them in all areas of the design from data collection to analysis, etc., will help identify champions to ensure implementation is successful.
Figure 1 illustrates the investment, and thus purchasing power, in a mining-dominated region. Red represents the lifespan of a mine and yellow the associated mining-related services. These represent the norm in a mining region over the life of a mine; purchasing power ultimately returning to near-zero. Green represents the implementation of DSP; as can be seen over time (the life of mine), the economy becomes diversified and the purchasing power maintained. – Designing Sustainable Prosperity “DSP”: A collaborative effort to build resilience in mining producing regions, by D. Hiam-Galvez, F. Prescott, and J. Hiam, CIM Journal, Vol. 11 No. 1 26 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
columns DSP is built around the tenet that comprehensive community involvement during all stages of mine development can lead to a more diversified economy. The community can develop their future, aided by diverse investments that arise from the presence of the mine but are not driven by the mine. This links the future of the communities with the mines, ensuring a timely and beneficial licence to operate. The process creates a collaborative environment that maximizes benefits to communities and others while minimizing impacts. Government plays a key role in providing incentives for investors to come to the region, by investing in infrastructure, and by providing flexibility to adapt the education system to accelerate the development of skills and tools to support a diverse economy and build long lasting business.
SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS IN THE INDUSTRY.
DSP in the copper-mining regions of Peru and Chile Natural resource-rich regions are vulnerable to the volatility of economic activity depending on the global demand of the natural resources. By applying the principles of DSP, we can get away from this volatility of activity by broadening and diversifying the economy. There is a potential to grow long-lasting businesses in the economies of Peru and Chile, where more than 40 per cent of copper concentrates in the world are produced. The region faces two challenges: local economies that will have considerable trouble surviving when mining activity ends and the severe water shortage expected within 10 years. However, the region also has the best solar energy potential in the world. There is an opportunity to focus on improving solar technology to use as an economic source of energy for sea water desalination. Desalinated water, produced in quantities beyond that required for mining, can then enable sustainable agriculture to be established. This in turn creates the opportunity to develop processed and unique food products for the global market. As a centre of excellence in the desalination of sea water with solar energy, the region can then export that knowledge. Once we visualize the potential of the region and determine what innovative industries could be built, the education system needs to be adapted to develop the skills and tools to support these diversified industries. In 30 to 50 years the copper-mining regions of Peru and Chile could have, for example, 25 per cent of their economy dependent on the strong growth of sophisticated technologies for desalination of sea water with solar energy, as well as innovative food products; 50 per cent of their economy dependant on mining (which follows the boom and bust cycles, as do most natural resources); and 25 per cent of the economy dependent on the services to support both groups of growth (strong and boom-and-bust). DSP, when implemented, enables economies previously considered to have no long-term future to successfully diversify to the benefit of the local people and the world in general. CIM You can read the technical paper, “Designing Sustainable Prosperity ‘DSP’: A collaborative effort to build resilience in mining producing regions,” by D. Hiam-Galvez, F. Prescott, and J. Hiam in CIM Journal online. Visit cim.org.
CANADIAN MINING GAMES
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Doris Hiam-Galvez is Director, Metals at Hatch.
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 27
Courtesy of Capstone Mining
Capstone Mining has implemented drill and blast optimization at its Pinto Valley to help reduce the size of its fines.
Tonnes of opportunities Capstone Mining is reworking mineral processing procedures at its Pinto Valley mine to keep costs down and throughput up By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
omething unexpected happened at Pinto Valley mine in Arizona’s Globe-Miami mining district last December. It had only been about a month since Vancouver-based Capstone Mining’s flagship copper mine had implemented a new drill and blast optimization design to improve its mineral processing efficiencies when the throughput at the crushing plant went off the charts. Originally built to handle 45,000 tonnes per day (tpd) and pushed to average 20 per cent higher over the past few years, the plant flexed itself to an average of 63,517 tpd for the month. On one glorious day, throughput at the 45-year-old mine broke an all-time record, hitting 70,334 tonnes. Part of the increase could be attributed to the drill and blast optimization, but the rest was because the mine had hit a batch of softer ore with a lower ball mill work index, making it prone to higher throughput. It was a happenstance moment that could have come and passed with the changing ore characteristics in the open-pit mine. Instead, the possibility of such dramatic increases in throughput caught Capstone’s imagination and sparked the beginning of a mineral processing innovation journey to re-invent the mine from a high-cost operation into a far more profitable and resilient one.
First step first “The story at Capstone’s Pinto Valley has been that in the past it was deemed a relatively higher cost mine,” said Jerrold Annett, vice-president of strategy and capital markets at Capstone, which acquired Pinto Valley from BHP Billiton in October 2013. 28 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
“You never know when the copper price will drop. This year the copper price dropped suddenly to the same level we saw in 2016. The way we combat that is to be competitive and to have it so that our costs are low enough to weather that kind of abrupt impact. So we are really focused on recovering copper at lower costs.” In pursuit of that goal in late 2019, Pinto Valley’s initial step was to optimize the first step in its operations: drill and blast. “For me, improving mineral processing really starts there,” said Mike Wickersham, Pinto Valley’s general manager. “It’s the least expensive way to add energy to the process of turning big rocks into little rocks.” Pinto Valley decided to work with SRK Consulting’s principal metallurgist, Adrian Dance, on an ongoing, consulting basis, as Dance is a specialist in mine-to-mill optimization. After studying Pinto Valley’s data and plant performance, Dance identified one of the operation’s most significant bottlenecks: its crushing plant was not dependably delivering enough fines to the ball mill. Dance recommended that sub-12mm fines be sent to the crushing plant from blasting practices. That output would lead to improved and more stable ball mill circuit performance. Working with Dance, Pinto Valley fine-tuned its drill and blast design to deliver maximum fragmentation and it added particle-size tracking to measure the optimization’s performance. “It’s about using your data better and then measuring your performance for fines generation,” said Wickersham. “It’s not about brand new or newly tested explosives. We use conventional explosives, conventional detonation systems with more focus on fines generation as the goal.”
Courtesy of Capstone Mining
mineral processing The optimization quickly resulted in a big bang for their buck. “The primary result was a significant improvement in fines generation,” said Umut Erol, Capstone’s metallurgical superintendent. “It nearly tripled. What we found is that suddenly we took a big load off the secondary crusher circuit because the fines passed right through the screens to the tertiary circuit.” Prior to the optimization, the generation of fine material at the mine was under 15 per cent. With the new finely tuned program, that increased to an average of 35 per cent. At times, it reached 40 per cent. The load off the secondary crushers translated to not just greater throughput but also less maintenance and lower costs in the crushing plant, said Wickersham.
Off the chart possibilities The combination of the new drilling and blasting design and highly favourable ore made December 2019 a turning point for Pinto Valley as throughput reached once unimaginable tonnes per day. “It opened up our eyes to how hard we could potentially push the mill if we found a way to sustain this level of throughput,” said Wickersham. In July, Pinto Valley upgraded its secondary crushing circuit with new FLSmidth Raptor Cone Crushers. “That was more for reliability,” said Annett. December 2019’s dramatic increase in throughput had come with a glitch, however. Despite the improved percentage of fines with the optimized drill and blast, the higher tonnage included more coarse particles that put pressure on the mill. “You have less time to float when you are pushing more tonnes through a given amount of space,” he said. “So you end up losing recovery. Conventional mechanical float cells don’t do a great job at recovering the coarse particles coming into the mills.” Working with Dance, the team set out to answer the next question, which was, “how to push the plant designed for 45,000 tpd to those impressive levels of throughput consistently without losing flotation recoveries,” he said. The team considered additional crushing, including high pressure grinding rolls (HPGRs) to crush the material down and reduce the pressure on its mill. In the end, it chose Vancouver-based Eriez Flotation’s HydroFloat coarse particle technology, which uses an aerated fluidized-bed separator that combines flotation with gravity concentration to extract the metals from ore. “We will not be the first ones to use it. There are several other companies within North America, Australia and South Africa that have been using the technology for some time,” said Erol. “It is receiving a lot of attention for good reason, and I think it’s a no-brainer to incorporate this technology into the plant.” Coarse particle flotation, according to Annett, is the way of the future. “You don’t have to use so much power to reduce the particles down to an ultra fine size,” he said. “The energy it takes to grind to a really fine particle is one of the highest costs for a mill,” he added. “If you can get all the benefits of the high recoveries with coarse particles, that’s how you get to be very competitive.” What required more brainpower, however, was figuring out how to best incorporate the new technology into the existing plant with minimal interruptions to production. For the answer to that, Capstone began exploring its options and conducting tests last spring. It has already completed lab studies not just at Pinto Valley but also at its Cozamin copper mine in Mexico. Now,
Metallurgical superintendent Umut Erol, standing in front of a rougher flotation bank. Capstone is looking to add coarse particle technology to Pinto Valley's mineral processing plant. Pinto Valley is conducting a pilot-scale study it expects to complete by the end of this year. “It has been a continuous study really,” said Erol. “We kept increasing the scope because of the positive results we were getting.”
More innovation The company’s journey to optimization through innovation has not been limited to its crushing plant and mill. Pinto Valley is also working on developing a new suite of reagents for more efficient processing of its by-product, molybdenum concentrate. It is currently testing those with very promising results. Capstone has also joined forces with Boulder, Coloradobased Jetti Resources to pioneer a new catalytic technology for its solvent extraction and electrowinning plant, which had previously been scheduled for closure due to poor performance. “Recovery was topping up at about 30 per cent of copper from those heaps. In lab-scale testing, we can double that now,” said Wickersham. “It’s going to create 300 to 350 million pounds of cathode copper over the life of the pit we are in.” Turning waste into profits will add to the mine’s competitiveness, but Pinto Valley hasn’t stopped there. To avoid interruptions to production, the mine uses stockpiles to feed the mill when its fines crushing plant is down. To improve efficiencies and worker safety, it has now also purchased a tele-remote operated Caterpillar D10T2 dozer. “It’s the first application Caterpillar has ever deployed in Arizona,” said Wickersham. Pinto Valley is also going high tech to predict more eye-opening insights such as last December’s unexpected throughput increase. It signed a contract with AspenTech (out of Bedford, Massachusetts), which offers asset optimization software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to explore ways to improve systems controls and future automation. “So in a 45-year-old plant, we are going to be using state-ofthe-art big data solutions,” said Annett. “We are going to keep this place running by making it stronger and lowering costs all the time – and no longer being one of those producers who is right on the edge when copper prices decline.” “This is just the beginning,” added Wickersham. CIM November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 29
Courtesy of Saskatchewan Research Council
SRC wants to give producers an option to process their rare earth elements in North America.
Building the foundations for rare earth elements supply chain Saskatchewan invests $31 million to create a processing facility By Sarah Treleaven
ne of the takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic is that countries have realized the benefits of having more localized and domestic supply chains for critical goods. This is a realization that extends to the mining sector and especially to the rare earth elements segment of the industry. According to the The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, China “continues to provide 70 to 77 per cent of the world’s REEs.” That stranglehold has become worrisome to some nations, including the United States, (where the president signed an executive order on REEs) and Australia (which is working in an alliance with India, Japan, and the U.S. to decrease dependence on Chinese REEs). European Union member nations launched the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA). In Canada, Saskatchewan recently announced that it intends to build Canada’s first rare earth processing facility, which will be owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC). The provincial government has committed $31 million in funding as part of the province’s 2030 Growth Plan.
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With the global demand for rare earth elements (REEs) expected to increase in the coming decade, the SRC facility will help establish a Canadian REE supply chain. Mining companies around the world will now have the option of selling their feedstock to a North American facility. With a feasibility study complete, the project is now in an extended engineering phase. Ground preparation is currently underway and construction on the building is expected to begin in November 2020. The approximately 69,000-square-foot facility – which will be owned by a private sector landlord and leased to SRC – is expected to be fully operational by 2022. Canada is home to approximately 12 per cent of the world’s REE resources. When the SRC announced the creation of the processing plant at the end of August, Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe – who was up for re-election at the end of October – noted that the new facility would serve as 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.”
Lucinda Wood, director of business development for SRC’s Mining and Energy group, says that the importance of this new facility is really about being a driver for the rare earth supply chain in Canada and North America. “A lot of mining opportunities in North America are hemmed in by the fact that there’s no middle stream supply chain development outside of China,” she said. In addition to local expertise, technology and existing relationships with mining companies, Wood explained that Saskatchewan proved the ideal location because of the vibrant uranium industry and consequent expertise dealing with radioactive materials. “The uranium industry produces waste streams that have relatively high concentrations of rare earth, and a lot of our technology work started because we have that feedstock available,” she said. “It’s a good location to attract rare earth initiative business.” The production of the individual REE products from monazite concentrate (which is derived from a mineral that contains REE and which will be sourced from around the globe) will require two main processes: processing and separation. In the first step, monazite concentrate, containing about 60 per cent rare earth oxide will be used as feed. To process it, the concentrate will be ground to a size of 43 microns. Then, a caustic digestion process and a hydrochloric acid selective leach process are used to produce a rare earth chloride solution. At the caustic digestion stage, byproduct trisodium phosphate (TSP) is recovered for reuse as is unreacted caustic soda. Most of the impurities – including thorium, uranium, iron and aluminum – are also removed in acid-selective leach. Next, radium is removed to further reduce the radioactivity of the material. The chloride solution is then ready for separation and can be either used to produce a mixed REE carbonate end product for sale or further more refined separation can single out lanthanum, cerium, neodymium and praseodymium. Among the many materials that can be extracted, neodymium and praseodymium (which are used together and which referred to as Pr/Nd) are of particular interest because it is used in the permanent magnets needed for battery electric vehicles. “The second separation results in mixed Pr and Nd oxide, which is very close to the application in permanent magnets,” said Baodong Zhao, principal process engineer and supervisor, mineral processing, SRC. Cerium oxide can be used as a high-quality polishing material in the growing market for big screen TVs, computer monitors, and mobile phone screens. Medium REEs – including samarium, europium and gadolinium – can be sold as a group for further separation. Finally, heavy REEs can be sold as a group or after terbium and dysprosium are separated. Jack Zhang, director of rare earth elements, SRC, notes that the Canadian rare earths industry is small, but SRC has been researching REEs for more than a decade – meaning it is well positioned to modify operations to maximize efficiency. That efficiency will also mean less waste. Water will be recycled, as will sodium hydroxide. And the discarded TSP will be sold to farmers and gardeners as a fertilizer. “We’re taking a few different approaches compared to conventional monazite processing,” said Zhang. The SRC facility will not reinvent the wheel. “There’s no intellectual property or trade secrets in terms of the unit oper-
Courtesy of Saskatchewan Research Council
An SRC employee examines the rare earth solvent extraction system. ations,” said Wood. “But SRC brings expertise in terms of combination and customization of unit operations honed over many years. They have a very good idea of how to optimize unit operations for this particular feedstock, and there are very sensitive criteria that you have to manage from a process point of view.” SRC presently offers a variety of REE-related services, including rare earth processing technology development and uranium tailings processing. Zhao said that optimization of existing processes has been the key focus. “This is very important in terms of recovery, purity and meeting specifications,” he explained, while referring to the separation process as the “fine art” of the rare earths industry. “It’s a very, very detailed operation design.” The new facility is forecast to employ 24 full-time personnel, but much of the operations will be automated – in part to maximize efficiency and in part because of the radioactive materials being processed. While detailed engineering is still a work in progress, the intention is to make the facility as smart as possible. “We will need to keep labour away from the tanks as much as possible,” said Zhao. For the extraction stage, for example, all of the feed monitoring will be controlled remotely – including the adjustment of feed volume and processing speed. The project has already attracted new partners. Australia’s Vital Metals recently announced its intention to build an extraction plant adjacent to SRC’s separation plant. The Vital Metals facility will convert mixed rare earth carbonate to commercialgrade separated rare earth oxides. While there’s still much planning and execution to be done, those involved are excited by the project and the opportunity to build a new circuit from scratch. “We are participants in the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network (CREEN), and we’ve been hearing about barriers in this market since 2012,” said Wood. “There are problems related to the Chinese monopoly, to Canada as a small resource market. So for me, [it’s] a bold thing that the Saskatchewan government is stepping up and doing something concrete to catalyze this industry in Canada. It’s very exciting to see such a big idea come to market.” Zhao said that his excitement isn’t limited to this particular facility but to the growing promise of rare earths in Canada. “We’re not just building a plant but an R&D facility so we can serve the industry,” he said. “This is a good example of leadership to create more opportunities in the future.” CIM November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 31
Energy efficiency wins International energy engineer of the year 2020, Emily Thorn Corthay, offers advice about how to make mining operations cleaner and more efficient By Carolyn Gruske
educing energy and reducing carbon may seem like two separate challenges, but they are actually part of the same equation. If energy usage goes down, carbon output is likely to go down as well. That is a message that Emily Thorn Corthay shares with her clients. Thorn Corthay is founder and CEO of Thorn Associates, a Toronto-based industrial energy and carbon management consulting firm, but she’s also the 2020 international energy engineer of the year – an award bestowed by the Association of Energy Engineers. The awards committee noted that Thorn Corthay, who is a certified energy manager, helped clients in over 15 countries achieve over $100 million in implemented energy savings and reduce carbon emissions by over half-a-million tonnes. It also noted that she has worked with governments to set energy policies. Shortly after being declared the winner, Thorn Corthay shared some tips with CIM Magazine about how mining companies – large, small and mid-range – can reduce their energy usage.
CIM: How have mining companies changed their approaches to improving their energy usage and reducing their carbon output? Thorn Corthay: There’s been a huge knowledge increase in terms of energy efficiency and even some of the carbon [reduction] pieces, especially in the last 10 years. And with that knowledge comes additional resources. In Ontario, for example, there’s been a capacity building exercise that has funded energy managers. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) actually provides companies funding of up to $150,000 per year to cover the salary of energy managers. That has really helped to have energy managers in place. It’s their job to reduce energy usage. If they realize they don’t have enough time or expertise, they reach out to consultants for specialty services. Some smaller companies - because they aren’t aware of that program or they don’t have [an energy manager] - might not 32 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
understand the need for energy reduction. I think it’s still a blind spot for many junior and even mid-tier companies, especially since energy and carbon price escalation and changing government policies related to energy and carbon are serious risks that can be mitigated by energy and carbon management programs. For the majors and those close to being majors, they’re at the forefront because their investors, their stakeholders and even their employees and their clients are not just requesting energy reduction but ordering it. They have to have their strategies in place.
CIM: What are some of the areas where mining companies have the most room for improvement in the ways they manage their energy usage or carbon output? Thorn Corthay: I think that the best approach is to use the ISO 50001 energy management standard. It’s a management framework for having and setting an energy policy and having an energy management team with an energy manager. I think the absence of a proper management framework to manage energy and carbon is one of the biggest areas for improvement. Many mines and mineral processors are leaders in safety and production quality. At Thorn Associates we say, “You should manage your energy like you manage safety and quality.” But that’s not often the case. When you look at the technical side, I would suggest they look at their biggest energy users. In mineral processing, for example, the grinding circuit is clearly going to be the biggest electricity consumer. See about your regrind rate. There are some process opportunities to be found. For operational improvements, in terms of control, look at the simple things. There are density meters to close mass balances that might not be fully measured in real-time. Depending on the sophistication of the company, they can look at alternative technologies like Vertimills [energy-efficient milling machines with an agitating screw in the grinding chamber] that could offer up to 40 per cent higher efficiency.
mineral processing And then for mining, there’s a big trend to electrification. And so electrification of vehicles is a huge trend and we’ve done projects related to that.
CIM: Going back to mineral processing, what are some of the smaller or simpler things a company can do to improve its energy efficiency? Thorn Corthay: One area that miners often overlook is compressed air. People tend to think that air is free, but compressed air is actually about 10 times more expensive than electricity because compressors are inherently extremely inefficient. One simple thing – it’ll only cost about $1,000 to $2,000 – is to buy what’s called an ultrasonic leak detector. It’s very standard equipment and it’s low risk. It sounds fancy, but it’s actually sort of a headset on your ears, like headphones for listening to music. You have a walkie-talkie with a long antenna and you point it around and it’ll block out the noise of the rest of the mill and it will hone in on the leak. You’ll hear it. It will go “shhhhh” when you have a compressed air leak. You can even use it with your ear plugs in and you’ll still hear it. It gives you a really big bang for your buck on running compressors. And just look at the pressure of your compressors and see if it can be turned down. If you can reduce your pressure by two pounds per square inch, it gives you about a one per cent efficiency improvement. That’s a rule of thumb, but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. We teach it in a certified energy manager course. It is a small operational change, but it can add because often mines will have four, six, maybe even eight compressors.
CIM: Are there any other easy tips you can share for mineral processing energy savings? Thorn Corthay: For mineral processing facilities in a northern Canadian climate that have countercurrent decantation tanks, or any tanks that have liquid that is hotter than the ambient temperature, look at just insulating the tanks and putting lids on them. Sometimes we’ve been to sites, they had no lids and this warm liquid was just evaporating out and losing all its heat even when it needed to stay warm. Heat recovery isn’t so easy, but insulation is. One of the things you can do is actually put some floating balls in and those just act as a kind of lid. That’s not very expensive and it’s maybe a bit more involved than compressed air, but those are some of the simpler solutions.
CIM: Do you have any examples of what you’re working on with clients? Thorn Corthay: One of the things we’re looking at with a client right now is one of their crushers operates about one-fifth of the time – about 20 per cent of the time – with no feed material. So we’re looking to just purchase a controller for them that will enable them to shut off their crusher when no feed is available. You have to make sure with the manufacturer that there won’t be any adverse effects for starting and stopping more often than it does now. So, there are some caveats, but this could potentially be a relatively simple solution.
CIM: Stepping away from mineral processing, what advice do you have for a mining operation looking at a greenfield or brownfield site? Thorn Corthay: You can have a lot of benefits at a greenfield site. The number one for sure is electrification of the vehicles being used there, because that has massive impacts on your ven-
tilation. Your ventilation is your number one electricity consumer for underground mines. That’s going to be a massive savings. It’ll have health and safety benefits as well, and can even potentially reduce dust. Also, just the placement of buildings and equipment so you can do heat recovery. A lot of our Canadian operations are in colder climates. You can do some heat recovery with the exhaust mine air preheating the incoming mine air. To do that, you need to have the intake and the exhaust very close to each other. When I say really close, it makes a big difference to be 50 metres apart versus if they’re 500 metres apart. Brownfield sites are trickier. That’s more of a case-by-case basis. One of the clients we are working with right now is installing a ventilation-on-demand system, so they have sensors for gas levels – C02 levels and diesel particulates. And then for people, they have digital tags so the operators on surface know at all times where the miners are and that enables them to adjust the ventilation based on the gas concentration in the air and the [number] of people. The first level was just turning off the ventilation during shift change. In this case, that was two hours times three shifts, so it’s six hours. Six hours out of 24, that’s one-quarter of the day. The more sophisticated level is to put variable-frequency drives, or VFDs, on your fans. They’re electronics on your motors and they can reduce the power significantly. There’s actually a cubic relationship between power and the fan flow. If you reduce by half your flow, you’ll actually reduce your power down to oneeighth. So there’s a really big benefit. That’s only for centrifugal fans, but a lot of them are centrifugal.
CIM: Do you have any suggestions for improving energy efficiencies at open-pit mines? Thorn Corthay: Mobile fleet management software. I would hope most would have this. We do some work in developing countries and they might not have sophisticated systems, but just using what you have to the full potential helps. For Canadian open-pit mining, just using the full potential of your fleet software and look at the idling of your equipment. Safety is always the number one concern and production is number two. And then energy. But if it’s safe, see if you can remove some stop signs if they’re not really necessary. You can imagine for huge mobile equipment carrying huge tonnage, starting and stopping is really where they expend a lot of energy. So if they can just kind of keep on cruising, then that’ll be way more efficient and can lead to productivity gains as well.
CIM: Is there an overall philosophy or general approach that miners should consider when they’re looking to improve their energy efficiency or reduce their carbon output? Thorn Corthay: Again, I think ISO 50001 really provides miners with a structured management framework that is going to stand the test of time. I’m not saying that companies necessarily have to become ISO 50001 certified, just compliant. So taking those best practices and principles is totally fine. And the metric of success is, if your energy manager leaves, is your energy management program still running? If yes, it is, then you’ve done a good job. I think that really sets the stage for the top executives to care about energy and carbon management. CIM November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 33
FELT AROUND THE
THE FALLOUT FROM THE DECISION TO EXPAND A PILBARA IRON MINE AT THE EXPENSE OF AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S HERITAGE SITE OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO RE-EXAMINE JUST WHAT IS FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT By Lynn Greiner and Carolyn Gruske
Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters sacred to the local Indigenous population in Australia’s Juukan Gorge during mine expansion, although legal, not only tarnished the company’s reputation and cost senior executives, including the CEO, their jobs, it triggered an inquiry in the Australian parliament and renewed focus on the nature of free, prior and informed consent. The initial blasting and the reaction sent shockwaves through the international mining community, especially since there seemed to be a discrepancy between what the mining company considered to be consent to go ahead with the project and what the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people understood. “We have operated on PKKP country under a comprehensive and mutually agreed Participation Agreement since 2011,” Rio Tinto wrote in a statement after the caves’ destruction. “At Juukan, in partnership with the PKKP, we followed a heritage approval process for more than 10 years.” The PKKP Aboriginal Corporation acknowledged that it had consented to the mine expansion in 2013, “but since the authorization, archaeological research has revealed highly significant ancient artifacts found in two rock shelters at the site, with some known to date back 20,000 years before the last Ice Age. The sites are also of substantial ethnographic significance.” The PKKP Aboriginal Corporation lamented “that Rio Tinto has complied with its legal obligations, but we are gravely concerned at the inflexibility of the regulatory system which does not recognize the importance of such significant archaeological discoveries within the Juukan Gorge once the Minister has given consent.” In reaction to the situation, some mining companies began to reassess their own plans and to determine whether their social licence to operate remained valid. BHP, for example, put expansion plans for the South Flank mine in Western Australia on hold, before forming a Heritage Advisory Council with the Banjima People, to ensure that it would not encounter the same types of problems. Glenn Nolan, who is vice-president government affairs for Noront Resources, can view what happened at Juukan Gorge from both sides of the conflict. In addition to helping develop Noront’s Eagle’s Nest project, Nolan is a member of the Missanabie Cree First Nation (from the Bear clan) and served as its chief for nine years. According to Nolan, the Missanabie People have a long tradition of extracting resources from the land, both for their traditional use and as participants in commercial mining operations that take place on their land. He said the community has benefitted financially and socially from the industry but that it separates commercial interests from spiritual ones, and has done so in the past. “We have this huge, huge hill that sticks up in our landscape. We call it Manitou Mountain. Every spring my ancestors conducted a bear ceremony there,” he explained, adding that the
province of Ontario permitted forestry and mining and other activities to occur on the mountain. Eventually, the community decided that the sacred nature of the 532-hectare mountain site was too important to sacrifice. The Missanabie went through a provincially mandated process and got a moratorium placed on all forestry and mining activity. The area was turned into a conservation reserve in 2005. In essence, the Missanabie withdrew their consent.
Free, prior and informed consent. Knowing exactly what consent is and how it can be granted in the context of mining operations working on traditionally Indigenous lands can be challenging. Typically, the concept of consent is augmented by the addition of the terms, free, prior and informed, laying out the types of conditions that must exist for the consent to be valid and not coerced or obtained nefariously by lying or deliberately misinforming the parties involved.
“States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” – United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
The notion of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is not new. Its genesis can be seen in the 1945 United Nations Charter, and more specifically in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP): “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration with a vote of 144 in favour, 11 abstentions and four countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States – against. All four have since reversed their stands and adopted the Declaration. As lawyer and chairperson of Vancouver-based junior exploration firm Deer Horn Capital Tony Fogarassy pointed out, November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 35
although there is more and more acceptance of the Declaration, it has not been recognized as law in the majority of countries worldwide, including Canada. “The whole area of international law and whether it is binding is really complex, depending on which nation state you’re in, which jurisdiction you’re in,” he said.
“The B.C. government has a positive obligation to ensure its laws are aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People… That, is an enormous sea change in terms of Indigenous rights and what that means.” – T. Fogarassy
One example of jurisdictions codifying UNDRIP-like principles into law comes from British Columbia, where the province enacted the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in November 2019. According to Fogarassy, under the act, “the B.C. government has a positive obligation to ensure its laws are aligned with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People… That is an enormous sea change in terms of Indigenous rights and what that means.” In addition to learning how newly enacted laws affect their relations with Indigenous communities, the industry itself has begun to create voluntary standards of behaviour. Of a growing list, Fogarassy said one has become dominant: the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and its Standard for Responsible Mining, and that is why Deer Horn became a member of the organization and is working with its staff members to create some guidance for small junior explorers. “Embedded in IRMA is the clearest recognition of FPIC and UNDRIP and exploration mining standards that you can find anywhere in the world,” he said. “If [a miner] is measuring up to the standard that is IRMA, that is probably a miner that is doing it right.” Fogarassy explained that the standard covers the mining of all types of ore and all mining activities from exploration to endof-mine-life operations. IRMA also has manufacturing and retail members – including BMW Group, Apple, Intel and Tiffany & Co. – who want to promote sustainable supply chains and responsibly produced goods as a way of attracting customers and demonstrating they are good corporate citizens whose products are worth a premium price.
Those four words The four words – free, prior, informed and consent – sound straightforward but have been debated, interpreted and reinterpreted by stakeholders on all sides. In “Understanding free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) in the context of mining in Canada,” a study with respondents who spanned Indigenous leaders, regulators, industry representatives, practitioners and advocacy groups, published in CIM Journal (Vol. 11, No. 1), several themes emerged. Co-author Somia Sadiq, principal partner at Narratives Inc., which specializes in impact assessment, com-
36 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
munity engagement and conflict transformation, observed, “Each of the components meant different things to different people. Perhaps the most diverse views were expressed on the meaning of consent. While to some it meant veto, to others it meant due process that achieves some form of agreement. The emphasis on due process was noted quite strongly by Indigenous leaders and practitioners.” She was also surprised at the differing views between communities and industry and government on the meaning of prior. “For communities, it meant the first time a geologist wanted to come by with a backpack and explore,” she said. “For industry and governments, it was when there was something feasible to move forward with.” That, however, appears to be changing. Fogarassy said that while mineral claims can be staked without community knowledge, that should not be done. “The actual issuance of tenure or the granting of a mineral tenure claim is something that needs to be done with the consent of the First Nation,” he said. “That’s where the whole continuum starts.” “We’re not going to [stake a claim] without their consent. That’s the bottom line,” he went on. “Why? Because when it comes to due diligence, if we have a great prospect, it’s worth a billion dollars – let’s just throw a number on it – it’s worth something phenomenal, our shareholders love it. This is great. And a major producer is going to come along and ask, ‘What’s your relationship with the First Nation? Did they give their consent, did they know you’re staking, did they know you were in their territory and you’ve got this project?’ We want to be in a position where we say yes, yes and yes.” Another junior that has placed FPIC at the forefront of its business model, and has a similar approach to exploration is Toronto-based Talisker Resources Ltd., which recently signed an exploration agreement with the Bridge River Indian Band (also known as the Xwísten – a part of the St’át’imc Nation) for the Bralorne Gold project in B.C. Like Fogarassy, Talisker’s president and CEO Terry Harbort said the company, which was founded in 2019, will not do any exploration work without asking permission from the appropriate Indigenous community first. Not only is it respectful of the local community, it makes good business sense. “I’ll sum it up by [repeating] what I was told during an [introductory] presentation we had with the chief of the Pavilion Band [the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation], because he basically said, ‘Wouldn’t you rather know where we don’t want you to work before you go and work there? Because if you find something there, we’re never going to let you mine it.’” Harbort emphasized that not only is prior consent always the first step – Talisker met with representatives of every Indigenous nation whose land the company intended to explore – but that continuous consent is equally vital, seeing it as part of the “informed’portion of the equation. Getting the Indigenous community involved in every aspect of the prospect is one way to be transparent. It is also a way to prevent a Juukan Gorge situation from happening, he said. “Constant and regular communication really must be the key. And a really good way to do that is to be able to use First Nation archaeological and environmental groups to actually work and contract on your projects, so it’s very clear that you’re not hiding anything because it’s those same First Nation groups that are taking your water samples or taking the samples out of your tail-
feature ings dam or being involved in the archaeological studies that are going on.” Ensuring that the Indigenous People have a level of ownership in any project is something Harbort said he strongly believes in. Again, it’s a win-win approach for the community and the miner. “The more of a vested interest they have in the project, then the more likely it is that project will get to an advanced stage,” he said.
Consent freely in action One of the biggest challenges to obtaining FPIC is bridging what Nolan describes as an information gap. It is a gap not just of technical knowledge but of perspective and experience, and it is something he said Noront encountered while negotiating with Indigenous communities in Ontario’s Ring of Fire mining area. “The industry was looking to be more formally engaged with communities, but didn’t know how to approach them,” he said. “And communities wanted more information about what mining meant, and what kind of impact it was going to have on their community. And they didn’t see or understand what the benefits were of participating there. Their whole knowledge perspective was one of ‘this is going to destroy my community, this is going to destroy the environment.’ It places more burden on the community than what they were willing to take on.” According to Nolan, Noront’s original plan was to run a slurry pipeline from the Webequie Ojibway First Nation to its Eagle’s Nest mine site. There, the slurry was going to be dewatered, and the water returned via a return pipe. The ore would be trucked to a smelter. “We thought it was a great idea,” said Nolan, but the communities did not agree and rejected it entirely. Instead, they expressed their desire for a road. “When you think about it, they’re familiar with roads. And what are they hearing about pipelines, even if it’s just a slurry concentrate?... Their whole awareness about pipelines is controversy and oil and the impacts of spills from an oil pipeline. You start to understand that they understand roads and how they’re built and how they’re used, but they don’t have a clear understanding of what a pipeline is, so they said, ‘we can live with a road, but we can’t live with a pipeline.’” Noront agreed a road could work, but rather than taking responsibility for it and building it, the company backed off, as the Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation wanted control of the project. The two First Nations and the Ontario government conducted a signing ceremony at PDAC earlier this spring, announcing they would develop the road together. As Noront president and CEO Alan Coutts noted in a blog post, “Though this isn’t a typical approach, the province agreed to provide the communities with funding so they could conduct [environmental assessments] on the sections of road that cross their traditional lands. All sections of a road to the Ring of Fire are now advancing under this new and innovative permitting model.” Noront now is working with the province on a revised environmental assessment plan for the Eagle’s Nest mine itself. Speaking on the Eagle’s Eye podcast, Marten Falls First Nation Chief Bruce Achneepineskum, whose nation was one of those impacted, said that an ongoing project to map areas of importance to the community contributed to the development of
the access road’s ultimate route. “We wanted to ensure that we cordoned off whole areas from any sort of industrial development and preserve it for future generations, and also to let industry know that these are areas you can use, for example, our community access road,” he said. “We did a lot of community engagement on the potential routes that we were looking at going into Marten Falls with our all-weather road, and we made sure that our traditional knowledge data was gathered by our lead planners. They marked off sites like sacred sites, burial sites, hunting sites, camping sites.” There is another example of consent freely given tied to this same project. Before Noront bought out Cliffs Chromite Ontario, Cliffs had intended to construct an open-pit mine in the Ring of Fire. Nolan said the Indigenous communities had no desire for an open-pit operation, so Noront proposed an underground one, and that was an approach the communities could accept. Nolan added that when he owned his own exploration company, he realized the benefits of working with local communities even before FPIC became a requirement. “It was always beneficial for me to engage with the leadership early on,” he said. “I would have a contract to go and do work for a large company. And I found that to be kind of advantageous for me to go and talk to the leadership and say, ‘I’m doing this work, and I need these workers.’ Then, I felt that I had a group of very trained and skilled outdoorsmen who could look after themselves, who would be safe and have knowledge about being in the bush, because we go in for a couple of months at a time.”
A decisive moment No matter whether FPIC is the law of the land in any given jurisdiction, embracing the philosophy behind it over the entire life of a project will mitigate risks that are only growing larger for both individual companies and the industry. “I’ve seen too many awful projects in my travels over the years,” said Fogarassy, “and I think the awful projects are out there simply because they ignored those in whose territories and on those lands they produced their metals from. I think with the right dialogue, with the right interaction, setting up the right structures from a decision-making standpoint – which goes to the heart of FPIC – I think a lot of problems would have been avoided. But naysayers might say, ‘Yeah, but that means some mines would never have gotten off the ground.’ And I would say, ‘Yeah, so what?’ They blow out and destroy a salmon-bearing creek or potentially destroy an entire watershed or pollute in perpetuity: if you knew that at the beginning of the project, nobody in their right mind would approve it,” he said. “The mining industry and the exploration industry have been doing things over and over in the same way. Sure there’s been money made and taxes generated, but the environmental legacies are awful and the social legacies are even worse. It’s time to rethink this whole mining and exploration paradigm.” The consequences of the decisions made at Juukan Gorge may be the turning point. While it is only the latest case study in how things can go wrong, there are a growing number of examples that set out a more productive and co-operative path to production. CIM
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Courtesy of Anaconda Mining
Anaconda Mining is looking for ways to put its Point Rousse port to good use, shipping out products it hopes to create from waste generated by its new Argyle gold mine
Anaconda poised to scale up Existing infrastructure, a new mine and further exploration opportunities have the gold miner in a good position for growth By Carolyn Gruske
he Argyle open-pit gold mine that recently opened in Baie Verte, Newfoundland is a small, hard-rock operation with a relatively short mine-life, but it is expected to play a vital role in Anaconda Mining’s future. Argyle, which officially went into production in September, is expected to last for only 22 months, but Anaconda president and CEO Kevin Bullock sees the mine’s contribution to the company’s bottom line as critical in generating enough positive cash flow to help fund the company’s aggressive growth plans – plans that 38 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
envision Anaconda shedding its small producer status through exploration, development and mergers and acquisitions. Argyle is part of Anaconda’s Point Rousse operation, which includes the Pine Cove mill – a mill in need of ore feed. Point Rousse, which covers 5,794.27 hectares (57.94 square kilometers) also includes the Pine Cove pit mine, which produced gold for the past 10 years while employing 80 to 100 people, and three gold trends: the Scrape Trend, the Goldenville Trend and the Deer Cove Trend. Argyle’s deposit is part of the Scrape Trend.
Courtesy of Anaconda Mining
Having an existing mill at the project, especially one in need of feed stock, keeps costs low. Even at a low gold price, Argyle is expected to produce a high rate of return. It is estimated to be of 262 per cent at a $1,900 (US$1,425) gold price or a 1,273 per cent IRR at $2,600 (US$1,950) per ounce. “The value of the infrastructure that we have is what we leverage for these smaller deposits. I mean, the Argyle deposit would be worth nothing unless the mill was here. And because the mill’s there, [Argyle] is worth over 1,000 per cent internal rate of return. So we leverage off that mill,” explained Bullock.
Argyle’s geology and numbers The Scrape Trend extends five or six kilometres due east of Pine Cove. Anaconda has taken to exploring the trend looking for new possible mining locations. The trend had already given the company one working gold mine in Stog’er Tight, which produced for about a year. An extension to Stog’er Tight, Zone 278, is looking like it might possibly be the next project Anaconda develops after Argyle, but that is a decision for the future. Bullock explained that Scrape tends to offer up low-grade deposits, but Argyle was a little different. “With Argyle, we noticed there were higher concentrations of gold in the soil. There was structure there that created the ability for mineralized fluids to move into the area. We did some more detailed soil sampling and geophysics at trenching, and found that the actual bedrock contained gold, so we moved the drills in and started drilling it off.”
According to the updated mineral resource estimate prepared by Michael Cullen and Matthew Harrington released in August on behalf of Mercator Geological Services Limited, Argyle is expected to produce 30,865 (35,477 in situ) ounces from a probable mineral reserve of 535,592 tonnes at an average diluted grade of 2.06 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, assuming an 87 per cent overall mill recovery rate. Its indicated mineral resource is 488,000 tonnes at an average grade of 3.14 g/t gold containing 49,300 ounces. That same estimate concludes that Anaconda’s costs for getting the mine up and running are low: $2.98 million in upfront capital requirements and life-of-mine sustaining capital of $2.69 million. Those figures should help the miner achieve a post-tax internal rate of return of 262 per cent at a $1,900 (US$1,425) gold price or a 1,273 per cent IRR at $2,600 (US$1,950) per ounce.
Blasting While no processing had started at the time of the interview with CIM Magazine, Bullock said mining operations had begun. The company pre-stripped and started to blast ore and waste in the initial benches at surface, resulting in it moving 79,287 November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 39
Courtesy of Anaconda Mining
Pre-stripping activities have been completed and now ore is being mined and sent to the mill.
tonnes of waste during Q3 2020. As of mid-October, the first load of ore was deposited on the ore pad at the mill. When it comes to blasting, Bullock explained that the company has deployed blast monitoring balls from Blast Movement Technologies (BMT), which has improved efficiency. “The blast monitoring balls tell you which general direction the blast sent the rock, so you know where the ore went. After a blast, you could have shifted in different directions and not know. The blast monitoring balls allow us to find out generally where the broken rock ended up. When we go in and shovel the ore from waste, we’re more accurate, and that decreases our dilution quite a bit. Everything else is done basically old style: shovel and truck, drill and blast,” he said.
Milling Bullock describes Anaconda’s mill as being very traditional. “So it’s the standard flotation mill, with the back-end CIL [carbon-in-leach]. So we go through a jaw and cone crusher. We go to a ball mill from there. We actually go to a re-grind, because we find with the stuff at Pine Cove, a finer grind gets the better recovery, and then it goes into the flotation cells. We get the flotation concentrate, which goes to the CIL section of the mill.” Ore from Argyle will be stockpiled at the mine and then trucked 4.5 kilometres to the Pine Cove mill, where 1,200 tonnes per day will be batch processed. The mill can handle 1,300 tonnes per day, so the Argyle ore will be supplemented with 40 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
stockpiled lower-grade ore recovered from the Pine Cover pit mine (before it was closed). “It’s about a half-a-gram difference,” said Bullock. “Argyle is about two grams per tonne, whereas Point Rousse is 1.6 grams per tonne. And at that difference, the benefit is almost offset by the extra haulage distance and the rehandling. So really, we’ll be making the same amount of money as we would mining at Point Rousse.” Argyle’s all-in sustaining cash costs are estimated to be $1,306 per ounce sold with the assumption of a gold price base case of $1,900 (US$1,425). But even if gold takes a dramatic and unexpected tumble, Bullock said the mine can pay for itself. “On the upside, the leverage to the gold price on this short-term project is very, very high. So at today’s prices, it just screams.”
Waste Besides having a mill, Anaconda also benefits from having an existing tailings facility at Point Rousse. Argyle’s non-acid generating waste will stay in permitted waste-pile areas at the mine and the processed tailings will go into an existing tailings pond. “[The tailings facility is] so valuable, sometimes people don’t understand just how valuable it is,” said Bullock. “Our original Pine Cove pit is now permitted as a tailings pond, so we currently have a tailings pond that does not have any dams. It’s solid-walled, permitted and has capacity for 15 years at full mill capacity. To build something of that size, even if you could per-
project proﬁle mit it, you’re into tens of millions of dollars – if not above $50 million – and it would take you years to permit it.” Beyond simply storing waste, Anaconda looks for ways to turn it into revenue. In the past, the company earned royalties on waste rock that it gave to a local contractor, Guy J. Bailey Ltd., who then crushed it and turned it into fill. The aggregate was sold to a large construction project on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. Anaconda even went so far as to have a deep port built that can accommodate 60,000 tonne vessels – ships that can transport aggregate. According to Bullock, Anaconda earned a total of $1.8 million based on a 60 cent per tonne payment. For Argyle, Bullock said Anaconda and the contractor are looking for similar opportunities. Beyond fill, however, Anaconda is even looking at turning the benign tailings into rock dust “because it has natural nutrients in it. So we could produce rock dust to mix with unfertile soil around the world. Those are long lead times to put into play and come up with solutions that make money, but we managed to do it with the waste, and we’re looking to do it with the rock dust as well,” he said.
Looking ahead Even though Argyle’s future is anticipated to be short lived (although Point Rousse’s expected mine life of two-to-three
years lasted for 10 years), Anaconda expects to keep developing new mines and properties. Bullock explained that Zone 278 is looking promising. “It’s wider and higher grade than we’re used to, so we’re excited.” Additionally, he said Tilt Cove is undergoing exploration drilling. Elsewhere, in Nova Scotia, there is infill drilling happening at the company’s Goldboro project, which Bullock said is in full feasibility and permitting mode. “When we develop Goldboro, that’s probably going to be another 60,000 to 75,000 ounces a year. Our goal is to be a 150,000-ounce-per-year producer, and that’s through internal discovery, internal development and M&A strategy. So we continue to look both in Atlantic Canada and around the world for opportunities and deposits that we think we can make work that other people aren’t seeing, and that would be a fit for us either in production, or advanced stage drilling, and that we can move forward. “We know that we can’t internally get up to 150,000 ounces a year within the next three to five years with what we currently have, but we certainly can get the 100,000 mark, and then tack on an acquisition, or a merger. We have a very aggressive growth plan. We’re not happy just being a small producer, and we won’t stop there.” CIM
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November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 41
Courtesy of Seequent
Tailings facilities are under the microscope, so technology providers are responding with solutions that support decision making from the design stage to closure.
F Getting a
Technological advances are allowing geotechnical engineers to develop a complete understanding of their tailings storage facilities at a time when it is more important than ever By Matthew Parizot
or geotechnical engineers, having access to accurate, upto-date data is paramount when it comes to making the right choices during all phases of a tailings storage facility’s (TSF) life cycle, from construction to closure and post-closure. Having a complete understanding of the status of all aspects of a TSF can be the difference maker in avoiding accidents. Various factors – such as location, raise type, seepage, stability and many, many more – make the process of maintaining each of these facilities unique. The introduction of the International Council on Mining and Minerals’ long-awaited Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management has amplified even further the need to have detailed and complete information, requiring companies to develop plans and design criteria to minimize risk at all phases of a facility’s life cycle. Thankfully, technologies have been developed to help geotechnical engineers get a better understanding of their facilities by simplifying communications with their teams, allowing constant monitoring and making structural analysis easier.
Modelling progress When Adan Olivares Castro was a geological engineering coop student at the University of British Columbia in 2016, he trav42 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Courtesy of Sensemetrics
elled to Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories to work on a crucial aspect of the company’s A21 project (its fourth diamond pipe): the construction of a 2.2-kilometre-long earthwork dike required for the development of a new open-pit mine. What Olivares Castro, now an engineerin-training with Rio Tinto, quickly learned was that the short construction window up north and the small footprint allotted to the project meant that mistakes would be costly. “Diavik had very short construction seasons. Earthworks construction is restricted to late May to late September before everything starts to freeze up,” Olivares Castro said. “The A21 Project Team wanted to minimize situations where misunderstandings in the field caused the project team to stop Sensemetrics IIoT solution provided real-time information and analytics and is compatible on both construction. These situations would desktop and mobile devices. result in valuable construction time being spent in meetings clarifying 2D construction drawings and Management dedicates one of its 15 principles specifically to the methodologies.” design, implementation and operation of a tailings monitoring In order to get everybody on the same page, the A21 team system on site. plugged drone imagery into Pix4Dmapper, a photogrammetry Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-connected monitoring software that processes pictures taken by drones, smartphones solutions have become a popular method of performing realor other cameras and recreates mining or construction areas as time tailings facility monitoring without having to send engia measurable point cloud model in full 3D. From there, the soft- neers out to the site. Sensemetrics’ IIoT solution has been ware lets you accurately measure distances, areas and volumes specifically tailored to mitigate risk of tailings facilities in of an object or area, which can be compared to images taken in line with the ICMM’s Tailings Governance Framework. The the past or to a construction blueprint. framework is a list of six principles designed to guide how According to Pix4D North America account executive Chris members approach the governance of their tailings facilities Dobel, Pix4Dmapper has many possible use cases, with a major and to address accountability, responsibility and competency, one being preserving the safety of mine site employees in poten- planning and resourcing, risk management, change managetially hazardous areas. ment, emergency preparedness and response and review and “At the most basic level, it seems like a lot of people use assurance. [Pix4Dmapper] for reporting on a monthly or quarterly basis “The Sensemetrics solution is aligned with all these elements saying: ‘This is how much we extracted, this is how much work and empowers stakeholders with automated real-time condition was done,’” Dobel said. “I think safety tends to be a thing that monitoring, providing crucial tools that support them in managpeople tout. Rather than sending X number of engineers, geolo- ing their risks throughout the entire tailings facility lifecycle,” gists, whoever into an area that’s exposed, they can fly a drone Sensemetrics director of mining Alex Pienaar said. “As an examand not send them in for hours but get them in really quick and ple, the first element refers to responsibility, accountability and get them out.” communication processes required to support appropriate idenFor Olivares Castro and the A21 project team, these models tification and management of risks. Our comprehensive system had an additional benefit: exporting the models to CAD software of record tracks changes all the way down to the sensor level and 3D printing physical versions of the finished dike design. which promotes vertically integrated accountability.” “As someone who monitored the placement of construction The solution, consisting of autonomous connected sensors as materials, the 3D models brought the project to life before it was well as desktop- and mobile-compatible software, gives operaeven built,” Olivares Castro said. “In the field of architecture, 3D tors real-time information and analytics for all connected TSFs. models have been used to show everyone else besides the archi- According to Pienaar, it provides a seamless and standardized tect, the designer, and the engineer what the end product is sup- way of reporting data into power analytical applications for conposed to look like. The 3D models at Diavik allowed operators to tinuous and complete surveillance across all phases of the have that final tangible touch to say ‘Ok, I’m going to be working asset’s lifecycle. In addition, the platform provides the ability to in this area’ [or] ‘This area is quite deeper than the area I was link third-party emergency preparedness solutions through its working in the previous day, so I need to tailor how I operate my secure application programming interface (API). piece of equipment for safety or production reasons.’” Specifically, the tailored solution allows the easy sharing of relevant data with companies that provide insurance for the Staying up to date TSFs. Tailings facilities require customized insurance policies Constant monitoring of tailings facilities is a major factor in separate from standard property insurance. Technical, assetassessing potential risks and avoiding the worst-case scenario specific data is relied upon to structure the policy but, according of a dam breaking. The Global Industry Standard on Tailings to Pienaar, current market solutions are costly and lack stanNovember 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 43
Courtesy of Seequent
Strength reduction stability analysis in GeoStudio’s SIGMA/W product, which models stress and deformation in soil, rock and structures.
dardization, making them complicated to manage and highly inefficient for use during the underwriting process. “With our solution really driving towards these key elements as defined by the ICMM, we’re in effect supporting the primary insurers and the re-insurance companies by being able to provide them with relevant TSF data vital to the risk underwriting process,” Pienaar said. “That data can be used to effectively mitigate risks and understand the risks involved, which is not only helpful for insurers, but also critical for mining companies to be able to do what they do.”
Analytical assistance Being able to monitor data from TSFs is useless without the ability to understand and face the possible challenges the data presents. Geoscience company Seequent has released its solution in the form of GeoStudio Core, a software bundle that combines slope stability analysis, groundwater flow analysis and stress and deformation analysis in one package. “Geotechnical analysis for mine design and slope stability demands integrated products for groundwater flow, slope stability analyses [and] stress strain behaviour,” GeoSlope president Paul Grunau said. “The GeoStudio Core software provides an integrated solution for analyzing the entire lifecycle of the mine, from the initial conception and design, to the final closure planning.” The products included with GeoStudio Core – referred to as SLOPE/W, SEEP/W and SIGMA/W – are all integrated with one another, as well as the full suite of GeoStudio products, allowing the results of one analysis to inform another or for two analyses to be paired together. For example, according to Grunau, the water conditions established by SEEP/W can be used in a SLOPE/W stability analysis, and SIGMA/W and SEEP/W can both be used for consolidation analysis. Additionally, the new 2021 update to GeoStudio Core provides solutions specific to TSFs with the ability to model static 44 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
liquefaction, which Grunau says is a critical aspect of creating a digital twin of a TSF. It also introduces functionality to model the construction of structures on soft clay environments, and will allow engineers to model complex foundation scenarios in soil. The program receives inputs from geology and infrastructure data generated from geology monitoring systems, such as Pix4Dmapper or Seequent’s Leapfrog software, as well as material property data (i.e., density, stiffness, strength and permeability) obtained through field or lab testing. “Core is used in geotechnical design, as well as back analyzing the response of a system to discover the underlying mechanisms that govern the problem,” Grunau said. “Core makes it easier for the geotechnical engineer to make informed decisions.” Making informed decisions is critical in developing a total understanding of a TSF and making sure that geotechnical engineering projects are successful. In his time since working on the A21 project, Olivares Castro has learned that lesson time and time again. “In my five years of experience, 80 to 90 per cent of the time, issues that arise from misunderstandings are attributed to just not having a clear understanding of what needed to be done,” he said. “At the end of the day, in the mining industry, most of what we do is tangible. You can actually visibly see it, and you can touch it. When engineers analyze drawings, specifications and even 3D models, you’ve kind of been exposed to it your whole life and it becomes second nature to you, but as an engineer if you fail to communicate and give that image you have in your brain to someone who works in the field, as in an equipment operator or equipment supervisor, you’re going to have problems in terms of design changes you’ll need to apply. It’ll impact costs, it’ll impact safety and you’re not going to achieve what you’ve spent months planning.” CIM
C.D. (‘LYN) ANGLIN Principal Consultant, Anglin & Associates
EBE SCHERKUS Director, Tailings and Water Management, Osisko Gold Royalties
JAMES BUDAC Metallurgist
JAMILE CRUZ Founder and CEO, I&D 101
MONICA OSPINA Founder and Director, OTrade
NATHAN ASHCROFT Strategy and Business Development Leader, Stantec
DISTINGUISHED LECTURERS 2020-2021 THE PROGRAM The CIM Distinguished Lecturers program started in 1968 and has continuously provided a lineup of individuals who have shared their knowledge with the mining community for over five decades.
at www.cim.org, where you can benefit from the ever-growing pool of expertise that the program has to offer.
Every year, the lecturers are elected by their peers through the CIM Awards program and hold the title for a complete season (September to June).
HOW IT WORKS
CIM is privileged to count more than 260 of the industry’s finest as its lecturers. Because the motto “once a lecturer, always a lecturer” defines our pride and dedication in ensuring that the learning curve is endless, a complete list of past lecturers is available
For more information, contact: Dist_lecturer@cim.org | 514.939.2710 ext: 1344
The Distinguished Lecturers program is offered to 41 CIM Branches, 10 Technical Societies and 12 Student Chapters. Universities can also request a lecture.
Lecturers are available for your online events. To book a Distinguished Lecturer visit: https://www.cim.org/request-a-lecturer/
Proudly sponsored since 1972 by the CIM Foundation, whose continuous support and generosity allows the CIM Distinguished Lecturers Program to connect CIM members with leading industry expertise. The CIM Distinguished Lecturers program is owned and operated by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).
Knowledge is power. CIM empowers you.
Professional developments at CIM A new committee dedicated to professional development for people in the mining industry
rofessional development has been a pillar of CIM throughout its 122-year history, with such programs as the CIM Distinguished Lecturer series, which has run continuously for more than 50 years, and decades of technical conferences held by CIM National or its Societies. This fall, CIM has formalized that commitment with the inauguration of the Professional Development (PD) committee. It joins 10 other committees and groups that play a vital advisory role to CIM Council. The purpose of the PD committee is to provide opportunities for lifelong learning to professionals working in the minerals industry. To that end, CIM Academy will play a key role as a onestop shop for CIM webinars, short courses, symposiums, podcasts and more. The user-friendly platform and the excellent search capability make CIM Academy a natural fit to take CIM’s professional development to the next level. “I am excited by the possibilities that come with having the CIM Academy, in addition to the annual Convention and other conferences,” said Donna Beneteau, chair of the PD committee. Beneteau, a director of the Underground Mining Society of CIM and an assistant professor in the College of Engineering at the
University of Saskatchewan, went on to say, “I have grown so much through volunteering with CIM, and this committee opens the door for others to similarly work with diverse teams on meaningful projects.” The PD committee consists of a cross-section of CIM members representing various CIM constituents including Branches and Societies. For more information on how you can join, visit cim.org. – Michele Beacom
Special Volume 57: An essential text for a strategic metal
ith the increasing importance of copper in the sustainable future of life on our planet, there has been a resurgence of academic study of porphyry deposits, which account for 65 per cent of the global copper supply. Next month, CIM will release Porphyry Deposits of the Northwestern Cordillera of North America: A 25Year Update. This volume follows in the footsteps of Special Volumes 15 (1976) and 46 (1995) to provide a timely and valuable contribution to porphyry science. Over the last quarter century, research to improve the understanding of porphyry copper deposits has continued and new insights have subsequently been applied to exploration and mining globally. Part of this increased understanding has also led to an evolution of exploration techniques, which, coupled with new technologies, is driving new discoveries across the northwestern Cordillera. 46 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
Exploration for porphyry copper deposits will likely continue in the next 25 years. The pace of exploration will likely increase, and the impact on the ground will decrease. The ability of the mining and exploration industries to address sustainability issues and to build effective partnerships with First Nations and other communities will strongly influence project development. In September, John Thompson presented “Porphyry Deposits in the Northwest Cordillera – The Last 25 Years and the Next 25 Years,” as part of the CIM 2020 Technical Program Series. The webinar is a great introduction to the upcoming book and can be viewed on CIM Academy, at academy.cim.org. Preorder Porphyry Deposits of the Northwestern Cordillera of North America: A 25-year Update on cim.org today. The volume is available in hardcover, ebook or as a specially priced combo. – Michele Beacom
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lettre de l’éditeur
francophone novemBRe 2020
Lettre de l’éditeur
Mot de la présidente
les actualités 50
Nouveau Monde Graphite augmente sa capacité et ses profits potentiels avec une innovation reposant sur le silicium By Tijana Mitrovic
Des tonnes de possibilités Capstone Mining remanie ses procédures de traitement des minerais à la mine de Pinto Valley pour maîtriser ses coûts et augmenter sa capacité By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
Des forces explosives
in mai, Rio Tinto terminait une série d’abattages à l’explosif dans le cadre de l’agrandissement de son exploitation de minerai de fer dans la région de Tom Price, en Australie-Occidentale. L’expansion de la mine Brockman 4 permettrait à Rio Tinto d’obtenir du minerai de haute qualité pour son mélange Pilbara, la norme internationale qui sert de critère de comparaison pour les autres minerais de fer. À l’automne dernier, la société approuvait des dépenses de près de 750 millions de dollars américains pour l’exploitation de Tom Price. Cet investissement, expliquait un porte-parole de Rio Tinto, présentait un « taux de rentabilité interne intéressant » grâce à la valeur du minerai et aux améliorations au niveau de la productivité telles que le transport autonome. La nouvelle production aurait aussi une empreinte carbone inférieure par tonne produite. Pour 2020, la production des mines de Pilbara de Rio Tinto était estimée à environ 325 millions de tonnes. Ajoutée au rendement d’autres sociétés minières, ces productions équivalaient à plus de 900 millions de tonnes pour l’année précédente. Ces sociétés contribuaient donc de manière non négligeable au produit intérieur brut (PIB) du pays, employaient plusieurs milliers d’Australiennes et Australiens et fournissaient des matières premières pour la production industrielle au monde entier. L’un des désagréments de cet agrandissement concernait les dommages probables qui résulteraient du dynamitage de la grotte de Juukan Gorge, où des signes d’une occupation humaine il y a 46 000 ans en arrière avaient été découverts. La société minière, les autorités réglementaires et les peuples Puutu Kunti Kurrama et Pinikura (PKKP), qui percevaient des revenus issus de l’exploitation minière, avaient déterminé en 2013 que les avantages l’emportaient sur les désagréments. Comme l’explique la société dans son rapport présenté au parlement australien à la fin du mois de juillet, l’appel à arrêter le dynamitage a été donné à la dernière minute, alors que les trous avaient déjà été chargés d’explosifs. Leur retrait aurait été dangereux et difficile. Ce même rapport, cependant, précisait qu’après une étude plus poussée des grottes de Juukan en 2014, la société avait pris conscience de leur valeur culturelle et de leur importance pour les peuples PKKP. Avant l’explosion qui a endommagé les grottes de Juukan, la société s’était montrée sensible à l’importance de l’engagement des parties prenantes et au caractère précaire du permis social d’exploiter qui accompagne le développement d’une exploitation minière au XXIe siècle. Dans son rapport stratégique de 2019, publié en début d’année 2020, Rio Tinto qualifiait « les risques pour les communautés et autres parties prenantes importantes » de « risque à très fort impact », dont l’importance ne cessait de croître. La société avait également une entente sur les répercussions et les avantages avec le peuple PKKP et s’était engagée à se conformer aux principes miniers de l’International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM, le conseil International des mines et métaux) en matière de développement durable. Ces principes requièrent le respect des droits des peuples autochtones et exigent que des efforts soient faits pour obtenir leur consentement préalable libre et éclairé. Une société de conseils indépendante a garanti que Rio Tinto s’était consciencieusement appliquée à évaluer les risques. Si le niveau de risque à la mine de Brockman 4 avait augmenté, le plan de mine n’avait pas changé. Le week-end où Rio Tinto décidait de dynamiter la grotte de Juukan Gorge, George Floyd périssait sous le genou d’un officier de police à l’autre bout du monde. Rio Tinto présentait ses excuses publiquement et, le jour suivant, la population australienne défilait dans les rues pour protester contre les inégalités raciales de longue date. Moins de deux semaines plus tard, une enquête parlementaire était lancée, et l’Australie-Occidentale annonçait la refonte des statuts impliquant des sites du patrimoine des peuples autochtones. Enfin, en septembre, Rio Tinto n’étant pas parvenue à imposer des sanctions à l’échelle du problème, son président et chef de la direction J-S. Jacques, entre autres, démissionnait. Cela reste, à ce jour, le signe le plus clair et le plus fort que les règles ont changé. Ryan Bergen, Rédacteur en chef firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_CIM_Mag
mot de la présidente
À l’heure où le monde connaît une telle transition, l’industrie évolue
lusieurs nouveaux projets miniers sont prêts à démarrer au Canada. La diligence, l’excellence et la compétence ont porté leurs fruits. Alors que ces projets sont en voie de devenir totalement opérationnels, ces trois principes ont permis de terminer des études techniques détaillées, de se conformer à toutes les exigences réglementaires, d’établir de nouvelles relations avec des partenaires autochtones et de mener à bien la phase d’acquisition et de construction. L’appui des communautés et des gouvernements est également primordial dans ces projets qui débutent à peine et adoptent une approche « holistique » de la conception de la mine. C’est formidable de voir les représentants des gouvernements, notamment le Premier ministre, pelles à la main. Cet automne, à l’occasion de mes sorties de pêche et de chasse à l’orignal dans le nord de l’Ontario, j’ai vu de mes propres yeux les foreuses à l’action, de nouveaux points d’accès routiers et des parcs de stationnement remplis alors que les projets débutaient. J’ai également constaté une transition marquée au niveau des priorités des entreprises envers la durabilité et la responsabilité environnementale, solidement ancrées aux côtés de la sécurité et de la santé. C’est la voie à suivre pour garantir la prochaine génération d’innovations nécessaires à toutes les entreprises. Parallèlement, des dirigeants influents de très grandes entreprises font certaines déclarations provocatrices. Par exemple, Elon Musk de Tesla cherche à créer des partenariats avec des sociétés minières ayant une faible empreinte carbone pour la fabrication de ses produits alimentés par batterie. Ces appels à l’action très publics mettent au défi l’industrie minière
de devenir plus durable et axée sur l’environnement qu’elle ne l’était auparavant, de l’ouverture à la fermeture des exploitations. De nombreuses sociétés minières placent désormais la barre très haut en interne. Elles cherchent à éliminer totalement leurs émissions de dioxyde de carbone (CO2) dans les deux décennies à venir. Pour atteindre cet objectif, la création et le partage de connaissances techniques sont indispensables, et l’ICM est une plateforme essentielle pour y parvenir. Dans la rubrique Technologie (p. 42, uniquement disponible en anglais) de ce numéro, vous trouverez les dernières actualités en matière de géotechnique appliquée. J’ai commencé ma carrière à un poste de géotechnique, alors même que les ordinateurs de bureau et les programmes logiciels de modélisation numérique haut de gamme faisaient leur apparition. À l’époque, ces nouveautés étaient à l’avant-garde. Le développement et les essais se faisaient en présence de tout un éventail de parties prenantes du gouvernement, du monde universitaire et de l’industrie ainsi que de conseillers spécialisés. Les outils de conception et les nouveaux systèmes d’assistance restent tout aussi importants de nos jours, et sont très utilisés dans les conceptions et l’exploitation de nos mines. La section À la une de ce numéro est dédiée à la minéralurgie (p. 52). Moi-même étudiante en génie minier à l’université de Toronto, j’ai pris beaucoup de plaisir à découvrir le traitement des minerais. Mais ce n’est que durant ma carrière que j’ai réellement compris l’importance des usines de traitement et de leur intégration à la mine. La complexité du schéma de production du traitement et la corrélation entre la géologie et la métallurgie (ce que l’on appelle la géométallurgie) sont une révélation pour nombre d’entre nous. Les sociétés minières doivent bien être conscientes de l’importance des usines de traitement en aval pour envoyer un produit fiable, homogène et de qualité dans le concentrateur. Ensemble, les équipes de l’exploitation minière et de la concentration doivent avoir un plan et un calendrier des mélanges de minerais et des volumes idéaux qui leur permettront d’optimiser la récupération, particulièrement lorsqu’elles sont en présence de teneurs variables, d’éléments délétères et de minerais polymétalliques. Je félicite les experts de notre industrie qui continuent de développer des pratiques exemplaires et de promouvoir les connaissances techniques. En plus de nos publications sur support imprimé, les événements virtuels de l’ICM se poursuivent et constituent une formidable plateforme de partage des connaissances techniques. L’événement COM 2020 + U2020, notre première conférence virtuelle, a eu lieu le mois dernier, et le Capital Projects Symposium (le symposium dédié aux projets d’investissement) a lieu alors même que nous envoyons ce magazine sous presse. La CMP 2021 prendra la forme d’une conférence virtuelle, tout comme d’autres conférences, notamment notre événement phare, le congrès de l’ICM, au mois de mai l’année prochaine. Si vous veniez à manquer l’un de ces événements virtuels, soyez rassurés. Vous trouverez leur contenu sur le site de la CIM Academy (l’académie de l’ICM). Je suis très fière de nos membres et de nos partenaires de l’industrie, et de la manière dont ils font face en ces temps si incertains pour s’assurer que l’industrie continue d’apporter sa solide contribution sur tant de fronts.
Samantha Espley présidente de l’ICM November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 49
L’actualité Nouveau Monde Graphite augmente sa capacité et ses profits potentiels avec une innovation reposant sur le silicium En intégrant du silicium dans le développement de ses matériaux d’anodes pour batteries, Nouveau Monde Graphite réutilise des déchets afin de créer un produit secondaire de grande valeur Avec l’aimable autorisation de Nouveau Monde Graphite
Par Tijana Mitrovic
Ce nouveau développement aura un impact positif sur le projet d’exploitation du graphite de Matawinie. Nouveau Monde prévoit une augmentation du chiffre d’affaires de 20 à 25 %. Nouveau Monde Graphite vient de « révolutionner » le développement de son matériau d’anode pour batteries à lithium-ion. Il y a trois ans, Nouveau Monde Graphite, une société basée au Québec, a commencé à développer un matériau d’anode pour batteries à lithium-ion, que l’on utilise dans les véhicules électriques, avec le professeur Lionel Roué de l’institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), un spécialiste des matériaux d’anodes à base de silicium. Récemment, elle a annoncé une avancée majeure dans ce procédé. Cette nouvelle percée améliore la capacité et la rentabilité du matériau, et valorise les déchets en incorporant du silicium dans l’excédent de graphite. 50 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
« Nous travaillons sur… [la] mise en œuvre d’un projet d’intégration verticale totale depuis la roche et le gisement jusqu’aux matériaux finis pour batteries, dans l’optique d’offrir aux clients une solution [plus durable] », déclarait Eric Desaulniers, président et chef de la direction de Nouveau Monde. « Le produit principal est du graphite sphérique. Il faut récupérer le graphite ardoisier que l’on trouve dans la roche, puis produire du graphite sphérique enrobé, qui mesure généralement entre 15 et 20 microns. [Les clients] exigent du graphite hautement purifié enrobé de carbone, [c’est] la forme principale du produit. » D’après Nouveau Monde, le procédé actuel génère seulement 60 % de graphite micronisé utilisable qui permet de fabri-
quer le produit principal nécessaire au matériau d’anode pour batteries. Les 40 % restant sont ensuite vendus sur le marché comme produit de faible valeur. « Le problème dans le procédé… de micronisation et de formation du graphite ardoisier est que l’on perd environ 40 % de graphite micronisé », expliquait M. Desaulniers. « Jusqu’à la semaine dernière, on ne pouvait pas réutiliser [ce] produit dans les batteries lithium-ion. » Dans le cadre de cette nouvelle percée, le graphite restant est aggloméré en particules de 16 à 20 microns. Des nanoparticules de silicium sont ensuite ajoutées, créant par là même une particule avantageuse du point de vue commercial. D’après M. Desaulniers, le produit résultant est précieux pour la fabrica-
l’actualité tion de batteries, et on l’obtient à partir de ce qui serait normalement considéré comme un déchet. « Cette solution est avantageuse du point de vue financier. Elle nous permet de proposer des prix plus intéressants et de nous inscrire dans une perspective plus durable en réutilisant des matériaux peu valorisés pour en faire un matériau de grande valeur », expliquait-il. La forme principale du produit de la société sera toujours utilisée pour le marché des véhicules électriques, mais le cycle de vie plus long de ce nouveau produit secondaire et les particules de graphite plus petites peuvent servir dans d’autres applications. L’équipe de recherche et développement (R&D) de la société conçoit actuellement des produits qui optimisent les matériaux de graphite enrichis en silicium. En créant un procédé qui permet à la société de vendre non pas 60 %, mais 100 % de sa production au prix fort, Nouveau Monde espère attirer les fabricants de batteries cherchant à réduire leurs coûts.
Ce nouveau développement aura en outre un impact positif sur le projet de Matawinie de la société à Saint-Micheldes-Saints, au Québec. En mettant en œuvre ce procédé dans le cadre du projet, M. Desaulniers estime que le chiffre d’affaires de la société augmentera de 20 à 25 %. Jusqu’ici, Nouveau Monde vendait les déchets à environ 500 dollars la tonne. « Aujourd’hui, grâce aux particules à grande valeur que nous créons, ces déchets pourraient [se] vendre entre 6 000 et 8 000 dollars la tonne », expliquait-il. Nouveau Monde a reçu une subvention de 340 000 dollars du conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) pour poursuivre ses travaux sur ce projet. La société investit également environ 180 000 dollars dans ce programme de trois ans, qui portera sur la production de particules primaires et la réutilisation de matériaux déclassés afin de fabriquer des particules secondaires dans une installation pilote. « Notre engagement est clair », expliquait M. Desaulniers. « Nous souhaitons
devenir le fournisseur de graphite par excellence qui comprend l’interaction du graphite avec le silicium, et [nous assurer] de fabriquer des produits répondant aux besoins de nos clients [dans] la décennie à venir. » Nouveau Monde travaille actuellement sur des plans d’études techniques et d’approvisionnement détaillés pour son projet pilote et attend d’obtenir un permis d’extraction minière du gouvernement du Québec avant de construire l’installation et les fours de purification, entre autres. Par ailleurs, elle a récemment annoncé la signature d’une importante entente de collaboration avec Forge Nano afin d’utiliser les technologies exclusives de cette société pour l’enrobage de son graphite sphérique destiné au matériau d’anode pour batteries. Nouveau Monde prévoit la mise en service de son usine de démonstration pour la phase initiale de production d’ici la fin du premier semestre 2021. La production commerciale devrait commencer en 2023. ICM
LE PROGRAMME Le programme des éminents conférenciers de l’ICM a vu le jour en 1968 et comprend une liste d’individus qui, depuis près de 50 ans, partagent leurs connaissances avec la communauté minière. Chaque année, les éminents conférenciers sont élus par leurs pairs au titre du programme dédié aux prix d’excellence de l’ICM, et ils conservent leur titre pour une saison complète (de septembre à juin).
une liste complète des anciens conférenciers vous est proposée sur notre site Internet www.cim.org, et vous permettra de tirer pleinement profit du réservoir de compétences en perpétuelle évolution offert par le programme.
L’ICM a le privilège de compter parmi ses conférenciers plus de 260 des professionnels les plus chevronnés de l’industrie.
Le programme des éminents conférenciers est proposé aux 41 sections, 10 sociétés techniques et 12 sections étudiantes de l’ICM. Les universités ont aussi l’occasion de réserver des conférences.
La devise « Qui a été conférencier le restera à jamais » illustre notre fierté illustre notre fierté et le dévouement dont nous faisons preuve pour veiller à ce que l’apprentissage soit un processus intarissable ; ainsi,
Des conférenciers sont disponibles pour vos événements en ligne.
Pour de plus amples informations, contactez : Dist_lecturer@cim.org | 514.939.2710 ext: 1344
Réservez votre éminent conférencier sur : https://www.cim.org/fr/request-a-lecturer/
Fier commanditaire depuis 1972, la fondation de l’ICM (FICM), dont la générosité et le soutien permanents permettent au programme des éminents conférenciers de l’ICM de mettre en relation les membres de l’ICM dotés d’une expertise de premier plan dans l’industrie. NOTE Seules les conférences dont le texte a été traduit pourront être présentées en français.
November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 51
Avec l’aimable autorisation de Capstone Mining
Capstone Mining met en œuvre l’optimisation du forage et de l’abattage à l’explosif à sa mine de Pinto Valley pour réduire la taille de ses fines.
Des tonnes de possibilités Capstone Mining remanie ses procédures de traitement des minerais à la mine de Pinto Valley pour maîtriser ses coûts et augmenter sa capacité Par Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
n décembre dernier, une chose inattendue s’est produite à la mine de Pinto Valley, dans le district minier de GlobeMiami en Arizona. À peine un mois après que la société Capstone Mining de Vancouver a mis en place sa méthode d’optimisation du forage et de l’abattage à l’explosif à sa mine phare de cuivre dans l’optique d’améliorer les rendements en matière de traitement des minerais, la capacité à l’usine de broyage a dépassé toutes les attentes. Initialement conçue pour traiter 45 000 tonnes par jour (tpj) et exploitée en moyenne à 20 % de plus ces dernières années, l’usine est parvenue à traiter une moyenne de 63 517 tpj dans le mois. En une journée particulièrement glorieuse, la capacité à la mine de 45 ans a battu tous les records et a traité 70 334 tonnes. Une partie de cette augmentation fulgurante était attribuable à l’optimisation du forage et de l’abattage à l’explosif. Quant au reste, la mine avait touché un lot de minerai moins dur affichant un indice de Bond inférieur pour le broyeur à boulets, favorisant ainsi une capacité supérieure. Avec les changements de caractéristiques du minerai dans l’exploitation à ciel ouvert, cette situation heureuse aurait pu disparaître aussi vite qu’elle était apparue. Toutefois, la perspective de telles augmentations spectaculaires de la capacité a stimulé l’imagination de Capstone, et donné naissance à un parcours d’innovation en matière de traitement des minerais pour réinventer cette exploitation à coûts élevés en en faisant une mine plus rentable et résiliente.
Les étapes prioritaires « L’histoire de Pinto Valley de Capstone indique que dans le passé, cette mine avait des coûts relativement plus élevés », déclarait Jerrold Annett, vice-président de la stratégie et des marchés des capitaux à Capstone, qui a acheté Pinto Valley à BHP Billiton en octobre 2013. « On ne sait jamais lorsque le prix du cuivre va baisser. Cette année, le prix du cuivre a soudainement chuté pour atteindre le même niveau qu’en 2016. Nous luttons 52 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
contre ces baisses de prix en nous efforçant d’être compétitifs et en maintenant nos coûts à un niveau relativement bas pour surmonter ce genre de répercussions difficiles. Nous sommes vraiment axés sur la récupération du cuivre à des coûts inférieurs. » Pour atteindre cet objectif à la fin 2019, le premier effort de Pinto Valley portait sur l’optimisation de la première étape de son exploitation, le forage et l’abattage. « Pour moi, c’est vraiment là que commence l’amélioration du traitement des minerais », indiquait Mike Wickersham, directeur général de Pinto Valley. « C’est la manière la moins onéreuse d’ajouter de l’énergie au procédé de concassage des grosses roches en petites. » Pinto Valley a décidé de consulter régulièrement Adrian Dance, métallurgiste principal à SRK Consulting et expert en optimisation holistique de type mine-to-mill (de la mine au concentrateur). Après avoir étudié les données et la performance de l’usine de concentration de Pinto Valley, M. Dance a identifié l’un des principaux goulets d’étranglement dans l’exploitation. Son usine de broyage n’envoyait pas suffisamment de fines dans le broyeur à boulets de manière fiable. Conformément aux pratiques de broyage, M. Dance a recommandé d’envoyer des fines de 12 millimètres (mm) dans l’usine de broyage. Ceci mènerait à une amélioration de la performance et de la stabilité du circuit du broyeur à boulets. En collaboration avec M. Dance, Pinto Valley a ajusté sa méthode de forage et d’abattage à l’explosif afin de fournir une fragmentation maximale, et elle a ajouté une fonctionnalité de traçage de la granulométrie pour évaluer la performance de l’optimisation. « Il s’agit de mieux utiliser les données puis de mesurer les performances pour la production de fines », expliquait M. Wickersham. « Cela n’a rien à voir avec des explosifs flambant neufs ou nouvellement testés. Nous utilisons des explosifs traditionnels, des systèmes de détonation classiques, mais nous nous concentrons davantage sur la production de fines. »
minéralurgie L’optimisation s’est rapidement avérée être très rentable. « Le premier résultat a été une amélioration importante dans la production de fines », déclarait Umut Erol, directeur des travaux métallurgiques à Capstone. « La production a quasiment triplé. Nous avons retiré une grande charge du circuit du concasseur secondaire, car les fines passaient au travers des tamis et arrivaient directement dans le circuit tertiaire. » Avant l’optimisation, la production de matière à grains fins ne dépassait pas les 15 %. Grâce au nouveau programme ajusté plus précisément, la production a augmenté jusqu’à 35 % en moyenne, parfois même 40 %. La diminution de la charge imposée aux concasseurs secondaires s’est traduite par une hausse de la capacité, mais aussi par une baisse de l’entretien nécessaire et des coûts dans l’usine de broyage, indiquait M. Wickersham.
Des possibilités hors normes L’association d’une nouvelle méthode de forage et d’abattage à l’explosif et de minerais très favorables a fait de décembre 2019 un tournant pour Pinto Valley, avec une capacité qui atteignait des niveaux de tonnes de minerais traités par jour jusqu’ici impensables. « Cela a été une révélation. On a soudain compris jusqu’à quel point on pouvait pousser le concentrateur si l’on trouvait un moyen de maintenir la capacité à ce niveau », expliquait M. Wickersham. En juillet, Pinto Valley a rénové son circuit de concassage secondaire avec de nouveaux concasseurs à cône Raptor de FLSmidth. « Nous avons opté pour ces concasseurs par souci de fiabilité », indiquait M. Annett. L’augmentation spectaculaire de décembre 2019 en termes de capacité s’est toutefois accompagnée d’un petit problème. Malgré la hausse du pourcentage de fines traitées grâce à la méthode optimisée de forage et d’abattage à l’explosif, les tonnes traitées comprenaient des particules grossières qui imposaient une pression sur le concentrateur. « On dispose de moins de temps pour la flottation lorsqu’on traite plus de tonnes dans un espace spécifique », indiquait-il. « On y perd donc en termes de récupération. Les cellules de flottation mécaniques traditionnelles ne constituent pas la meilleure option pour récupérer les particules grossières envoyées dans les concentrateurs. » En collaboration avec M. Dance, l’équipe s’est décidée à répondre à la question suivante, à savoir « comment pousser l’usine, conçue pour traiter 45 000 tpj, jusqu’à cette capacité impressionnante sans accuser de perte au niveau des récupérations par flottation », indiquait-il. L’équipe a envisagé un broyage supplémentaire, notamment à l’aide de cylindres de broyage à haute pression (HPGR, de l’anglais high pressure grinding rolls) pour broyer le matériau et réduire la pression imposée sur son concentrateur. En fin de compte, elle a opté pour le séparateur HydroFloat d’Eriez Flotation de Vancouver pour la concentration en minéraux de particules grossières. Cette technologie repose sur un séparateur aéré à lit fluidisé qui associe la flottation à la concentration par gravité pour extraire les métaux du minerai. « Nous ne serons pas les premiers à utiliser cette technologie. Plusieurs autres sociétés en Amérique du Nord, en Australie et en Afrique du Sud l’utilisent depuis quelque temps », indiquait M. Erol. « Elle attire beaucoup l’attention pour de bonnes raisons, et son intégration dans l’usine semble évidente. » D’après M. Annett, la flottation des particules grossières, c’est l’avenir. « Il n’est pas nécessaire d’utiliser autant d’énergie
pour réduire les particules à une taille ultrafine », indiquait-il. « L’énergie nécessaire au broyage en une particule réellement fine représente l’un des coûts les plus élevés pour le concentrateur », précisait-il. « Si l’on peut obtenir tous les avantages des récupérations importantes avec des particules grossières, c’est là que l’on devient très compétitif. » Il a cependant fallu plus de matière grise pour comprendre comment intégrer cette nouvelle technologie à l’usine existante en évitant les interruptions au niveau de la production. Pour y parvenir, Capstone a commencé à explorer ses options et à mener des essais au printemps dernier. La société a déjà mené des études en laboratoire, pas seulement à Pinto Valley mais aussi à sa mine de cuivre Cozamin au Mexique. Aujourd’hui, Pinto Valley mène une étude à l’échelle pilote qu’elle prévoit de terminer d’ici la fin de l’année. « C’est réellement une étude permanente », indiquait M. Erol. « Nous n’avons cessé d’élargir sa portée en raison des résultats positifs que nous obtenons. »
Pleins feux sur l’innovation Le parcours de la société vers l’optimisation à travers l’innovation ne s’est pas limité à son usine de broyage et son concentrateur. Pinto Valley travaille aussi sur le développement d’une nouvelle série d’agents réactifs pour un traitement plus efficace de son produit dérivé, le concentré de molybdène. Il les teste actuellement, avec des résultats très prometteurs. Capstone a également uni ses forces avec la société Jetti Resources de Boulder, dans le Colorado, pour lancer une nouvelle technologie catalytique pour son usine d’extraction par solvant et d’extraction électrolytique, qui devait être fermée en raison de sa performance médiocre. « La récupération atteignait un maximum de 30 % de cuivre à partir de ces amas. Dans des essais en laboratoire, on peut désormais doubler cette récupération », indiquait M. Wickersham. « Cela va créer entre 300 et 350 millions de livres de cuivre en cathodes sur la durée de vie de l’exploitation dans laquelle nous travaillons. » La transformation de déchets en profits renforcera la compétitivité de la mine, mais Pinto Valley ne s’est pas arrêtée là. Pour éviter les interruptions au niveau de la production, la mine utilise ses réserves pour alimenter le concentrateur lorsque son usine de broyage des fines est en arrêt. Pour améliorer les rendements et renforcer la sécurité des employés, elle a également acheté un bulldozer Caterpillar de la catégorie D10T2 actionné à distance. « C’est la première application que Caterpillar développe en Arizona », expliquait M. Wickersham. Pinto Valley se lance aussi dans la haute technologie afin d’être mieux armée face à des situations révélatrices telles que cette augmentation inattendue de la capacité en décembre dernier. Elle a signé un contrat avec AspenTech (à côté de Bedford, dans le Massachusetts), une société qui propose un logiciel d’optimisation des actifs reposant sur l’intelligence artificielle (IA) et l’apprentissage automatique pour explorer les manières d’améliorer les commandes des systèmes et l’automatisation future. « Dans une usine de 45 ans, nous allons utiliser des solutions à la pointe du progrès reposant sur les mégadonnées », indiquait M. Annett. « Nous allons continuer à exploiter cette usine en la rendant plus forte et en réduisant continuellement nos coûts, et non pas en en faisant une de ses installations qui se retrouvent au bord du gouffre dès que le prix du cuivre baisse. » « Ce n’est que le début », ajoutait M. Wickersham. ICM November 2020 • Novembre 2020 | 53
ÉVÉNEMENT VIRTUEL Résilient et prospère Ensemble dans un monde en changement
On va de l'avant !
12 thèmes : La transformation numérique
L’impact de la COVID-19 sur le cycle de vie des mines
De la fosse au port
La géotechnique dans les mines à ciel ouvert
Géologie : minéraliser les systèmes et au-delà
Travailler la roche
Engagement social, partenariats & transparence
Gestion des risques
Engagement et expertise en matière d’environnement
L’économie des minéraux
Changer le monde de la santé et la sécurité
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CIM Journal Abstracts from CIM Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1
Hydrological modeling for mining water availability in a Mexican watershed A. Rodriguez-Prado, Independent Consultant, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
Assessment of water availability is important to mining operations. Efficient mineral extraction, processing, and refining is related to a proper water management plan, especially in areas where water is scarce. Hydrological models such as the land surface scheme have been successfully applied to Canadian watersheds to estimate surface streamflow. This paper presents the application of the Modélisation Environnementale communautaire – Surface Hydrology (MESH) model for mining water management using the Coatzacoalcos River basin in Mexico as a case study. The model provided reasonable estimates of the basin water budget (2002–2010) and magnitude and pattern of the peakflows during the wet season (summer). However, the modeled baseflows tended to be lower than observed during the dry season. Additional studies are warranted to refine the characterization of the basin feeding the model and obtain more accurate water budget results that can be used in mining surface water management.
Performance evaluation of ultra-class mining shovel track roller paths A. D. J. Paterson, T. G. Joseph, J. A. Nychka, and M. Curley, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
This paper outlines a scale test approach for roller-roller path contact proportional to the field impact observed in the undercarriage of ultra-class mining shovels. The scale test is a costeffective means to predict the degree of roller contact fatigue deterioration as a function of the number of field-measurable duty cycles. The proposed test method will potentially permit more cost-effective, small-scale development testing of roller path technology for specific mining conditions for ultra-class shovel designers. The preliminary data reported in this paper indicate that the proposed test configuration can infer performance to end-of-life roller-roller path combinations within the confines of a given set of field loading conditions (coal mine in this case). The results open up a future opportunity to verify the sensitivity of damage models, leading to the advancement of roller-roller path systems with greater operational longevity and reducing maintenance time and cost through avoidance of catastrophic failure.
Interpreting displacement data from complementary slope monitoring systems in extreme weather conditions R. Yost, M. Sharp, and S. Ducharme-Rivest, Teck Resources Ltd., Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
As costs decrease for displacement monitoring radar units, open-pit operations increasingly incorporate multiple monitoring systems to track displacement of pit walls. At the Teck Resources Ltd. steelmaking coal operations in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, a common practice is to couple a radar system with the installation of survey prisms. The two systems work in different ways and provide more continuous monitoring of displacement when one system is adversely affected by the punishing weather conditions at the mining operations. While there are circumstances when results from one system can be discounted, there are often instances when results from either system cannot be ignored even though they are suspect. This paper presents a methodology to evaluate results in such circumstances. It links the monitoring system status, pit-wall displacement trends, perceived risk, and recommended course of action in a manner that addresses the uncertainty of results from one or both systems.
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MINING LORE Thomas Edison: The unlucky miner
Courtesy of The Henry Ford
By Tijana Mitrovic
hen Thomas Alva However, Edison was not Edison began his ready to give up on mining just career in 1863, one yet. After visiting the of the sole sources of electricPanAmerican Exhibition world ity was rudimental, low-voltfair in Buffalo, New York, in age batteries. Over his life, 1901, Edison travelled north to Edison built a world-class the small town of Sudbury, industrial research laboratory, Ontario. He began to survey held 1,093 patents, invented the area for nickel and cobalt the phonograph among many deposits using the magnetic other devices and, perhaps dip needle and found a promismost importantly, invented ing nickel deposit in the Falcondirect current electricity. In bridge area. addition to his famous invenIn 1902, Edison made his tions, he also played a role in first of several attempts to sink the histories of two mines, one a shaft in Sudbury, however he of which would become a sigstruggled against a layer of nificant part of Canada’s minquicksand over the deposit. He ing industry through the 20th eventually gave up and left Century. Sudbury in 1903, abandoning In the late 1880s, Edison his claims. became increasingly interIn 1911, Edison’s claims ested in developing a magnetic reverted back to Crown land. ore-separator. The price of Four years later, E. J. Longyear iron ore had risen significantly acquired the claims and the in the 1880s, and he realized Longyear Diamond Drilling that a large portion of the cost company located a nickel-copwas the shipping of the prodper deposit and successfully uct from faraway mines to the drilled through the glacial eastern United States, where it Thomas Edison, 1895, photographed outside his iron mine in Ogden, New sand, drilling 5.1 million tonnes was then milled and sold to Jersey. across 2,100 metres without industrial consumers. Edison encountering any of the issues believed that if he could use a separator to extract iron from low- Edison had experienced. According to a 1989 CIM presentation value, low-grade ores at local mines, he could eliminate these by Gerald Crawford, Edison had stopped his shaft-sinking only large shipping costs, sell it to customers at a significantly lower 4.5 metres above the ore body. cost and make a fortune. In 1928, the Falconbridge claims once again changed hands as Edison had already created the Edison Ore-Milling Company Thayer Lindsley purchased them for $2.5 million. Soon after in 1880 with the help of several investors. He then purchased and Lindsley incorporated Falconbridge Nickel Mines from two existacquired the rights to 145 old mines in the eastern U.S. and built ing companies and established the company town of Falcona pilot plant at the Ogden mine in New Jersey. He told his bridge. The new company successfully sunk its Number One investors that he would make Ogden the “Yosemite of the East.” mine shaft in October 1929, only 100 feet from where Edison had In 1889 he hired hundreds of carpenters and labourers to tried sinking his shaft. Five years later, the company was operatbegin constructing the first separator and mill. Edison began ing a smelter and mill, had built a second smokestack and was testing the process in the fall of 1891, but a string of operational about to sink its Number Five mine shaft, which would become issues such as the steel conveyor system constantly jamming Falconbridge’s major mine. and the briquette oven being inefficient meant that production Though he himself did not succeed at mining, Thomas Ediwas on and off for several years. son laid the groundwork for the claims that would become the In the spring of 1899 the Ogden mill opened once again and bedrock of a major Sudbury mining operation for the greater began production, and if not for the company’s debts and inter- part of a century. Today, Edison’s role in the history of Falconest obligations, the company would have finally been making a bridge and Sudbury is in part remembered through Falconprofit. However, it was too late: the mill closed that fall and the bridge’s former head office for Sudbury operations, the mine the following year, as Edison liquidated his holdings in Edison Building, which is now an archive for the city of the company. Greater Sudbury. CIM 58 | CIM Magazine | Vol. 15, No. 7
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