Late spring seems to be the favoured time for Canadian companies to open new mines in foreign lands. News releases have been arriving at a record pace this past week. The venues are spread out all over the map Mongolia, Mexico, Nevada and Zambia. Here are some details in alphabetical order geographically.
In Mongolia, SOUTHGOBI ENERGY RESOURCES of Vancouver celebrated the grand opening of its Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine in the southern part of the country. The official ceremony was held on June 4 for more than 100 guests, including political and community leaders, supporters, shareholders and employees. (Photos are posted at www.SouthGobi.com).
Since receiving its mining licence in September 2007, SouthGobi has hired a mine workforce of 180 made up predominantly of Mongolian nationals. Open-pit coal production began in April and the mine is now operating 24 hours per day. The company plans to commence commercial production in July of this year. Thermal, premium thermal and metallurgical coal will be exported, primarily to China.
In Mexico there are two projects in the good news column.
Vancouver-based SCORPIO MINING has inaugurated its 100%-owned Nuestra Senora silver-zinc-lead mine and mill in Sinaloa State. About 650 people from the Scorpio team, Mexican and Canadian governments, and global financial institutions attended the ribbon cutting on May 30. The project was developed in only eight months, and commercial production will be reached this July.
Scorpio says that mill commissioning is underway, with the facility currently processing between 500 and 650 t/d. At present, a total of 95,000 tonnes of ore is stockpiled at the mill site and being processed. In addition, underground crews are drilling the second longhole stope and opening a level for a future cut-and-fill stope from a high-grade area. Remote-controlled mucking of the first blasted long-hole stope continues, and an electrical upgrade throughout the mine has been completed. (See also www.ScorpioMining.com)
In Mexico’s Chihuahua State, MINEFINDERS CORP. (www.Minefinders.com) of Vancouver reports that the first gold and silver pour has been made at its Dolores mine and mill. The company expects gold production from the project will be approximately 40,000 oz in 2008, 128,000 oz in 2009 and 129,000 oz in 2010. Silver production is expected to be 1.0 million oz in 2008, 3.0 million oz in 2009, and 4.0 million oz in 2010. Excluding royalties, at a 52:1 silver:gold ratio, cash cost is expected to average US$403/oz AuEq in 2008 and decrease during the life of the mine to average US$297/oz AuEq.
In Nevada, Vancouver’s GREAT BASIN GOLD has begun gold and silver production at its Hollister mine. Approximately 4,500 tonnes of ore averaging 41.1 g/t Au and 325.7 g/t Ag were processed at NEWMONT MINING’s Midas mill, 30 km away. Great Basin said 4,655 oz of gold and 42,539 oz of silver were recovered, giving the company a realized net revenue of $3.9 million after toll charges. Another 4,500 t of ore is on its way to the mill. (See also www.GrtBasin.com)
Commissioning has begun at the Lumwana mine in Zambia; Africa’s largest copper mine will reach commercial production in 2009. Owner EQUINOX MINERALS of Toronto says production will reach 169,000 tonnes of copper metal during the first year and average 122,000 t/y over the remaining 36 years of mine life. Two deposits – the Malundwe and Chimiwungo – will be mined sequentially by open pit to produce concentrates grading 43.3% Cu and 29.5% Cu, respectively.
Equinox has also commissioned a study on the feasibility of producing uranium from the Lumwana deposits. The results should be available shortly, and construction could begin as early as Q3 2008. An excellent presentation covering the Lumwana project is also posted at www.EquinoxMinerals.com/docs/Equinox_May08.pdf.
The warm weather seems to be bringing more than flowers this spring. Too bad more of the new mines couldn’t be in Canada, but it speaks well of Canadian miners that they have the skills and technology to exploit deposits anywhere in the world.