Gold mine news
Thermal fragmentation mining and processing underway
In June Rocmec Mining Inc. of Pointe-Claire, Que., acquired 50% interest in a 250-tonne/day gold concentrating mill south of Rouyn-Noranda from Consolidated Big Valley Resources for $1.75 million. Consolidated Big Valley continues to be mill operator.
Equipped with the Merrill-Crowe system, the mill will be used primarily to process ore from Rocmec’s Russian Kid (Rocmec 1) gold mine, 36 km west of Rouyn-Noranda. The mill started up in mid-July using ore left by the predecessor company, and poured its first dor button (weighing 5.7 kg with an estimated 70% gold content) on Aug. 31.
During the month of August 2006, Rocmec began underground development at the Rocmec 1 project. This involved drifting in the McDowell vein structure on level 220, east of the existing underground stopes. Once the drift is completed, Rocmec plans to mine the McDowell structure using a combination of conventional mining methods and thermal fragmentation.
The company (formerly Mirabel Resources) is following an innovative game plan, since it was spun off from Malartic-Sud Exploration in 2000. Rocmec intends to become an intermediate gold producer by using thermal fragmentation to exploit narrow, high-grade precious metal quartz veins.
In April, the company began conducting thermal fragmentation activities at the Rocmec 1 project, and stockpiling ore underground. The process involves enlarging a 15-cm hole previously made with an in-the-hole drill. Heat from a powerful diesel burner creates thermal stresses that spall the rock, enlarging the hole to the total width of the vein. This technology has been used in Russia for over 30 years in large-scale open pits for the drilling of large blastholes.
In mid-July, the company received a patent for this process in South Africa, valid for 25 years, granting Rocmec the exclusive rights to employ the thermal fragmentation process. The company intends to conclude partnership agreements with major companies operating in South Africa, which has the most narrow vein precious metal deposits in the world.