Golden Bear Heap Leach Mine to Close
One of the first and most successful heap leach gold mines built in Canada has begun the process of closing, after five years of producing more ounces at a lower cost than originally expected.
“All the mining and crushing at the Golden Bear mine is done,” said John Kalmet, president of Toronto-based Wheaton River Minerals, which owns the mine. “We are now decommissioning and revegetating the site.”
The mine, located 150 km west of Dease Lake, B.C., at 950 m elevation, was the first heap leach mine permitted in British Columbia, in 1994.
Wheaton’s feasibility study in 1995 estimated the mine would produce 215,000 ounces of gold at a production cost of US$233 per ounce. In fact, the mine produced more than 265,000 ounces at a cash cost of approximately US$170 per ounce.
Langlois Feasibility Study Results
A feasibility study by SRK Consulting on the underground Langlois zinc-copper-gold-silver mine in northwest Quebec, has been completed for 100%-owner Breakwater Resources Ltd. of Toronto. Breakwater purchased Langlois, including a 2,500-tonne/day zinc-copper concentrator, from Cambior Inc. in May 2000 and continued operating the mine until November 2000.
As the optimal scenario, the study selected a production rate of 450,000 tonnes/year and an increased cut-off grade, creating a high grade alternative with a mine life of seven years. The minable reserves as of June 1, 2001 are 2.9 million tonnes grading 11.2% Zn, 0.7% Cu, 52.9 grams/tonne (g/t) Ag and 0.1 g/t Au. In addition, there are 2.0 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources at similar grades.
Before the mine could resume full production, about 18 months of construction and development work is required as well as an investment of Cdn$33.1 million in capital, of which about $16 million must be spent prior to startup, mostly in the underground mine.
The operating cost per pound of payable zinc including smelting, shipping and byproduct credits for copper, silver and gold is US$0.385. As zinc is currently selling for US$0.364 per pound, the decision to reopen Langlois awaits an improvement in the price of zinc, and arranging financing.
Rio Algom and Cameco Clarifications
In our recent article about Cameco about the top 40 Canadian mining companies (CMJ August 2001), a note about Rio Algom Ltd. in the table on page 11 says, “company has been purchased by Rio Tinto”. It should read: “company was purchased by Billiton in October 2000; Billiton merged with BHP in May 2001 to form BHP Billiton.”
In the same table, Cameco Corp.’s 1999 net earnings are shown as negative $80,037 million. They were actually positive $80,037 million.