SMITHERS, British Columbia Having posted record operating and production results (see Net News, Oct. 15), NORTHGATE EXPLORATION offers details of improvements that made the records possible. In the first nine months of this year, mine productivity went up 28% to 779 tonnes/manshift, unit mining costs went down 16% to $0.93/tonne (saving US$4.5 million), and mill availability increased by 4% to 91%. Moreover, gold production grew to 215,365 oz (boosting revenue by over US$5 million) and copper production expanded 3% to 54 million lb.
The positive results reflect a number of changes. The explosives quality control program cut loading costs by 18%. Tests of a prototype two-piece haul truck tire show promise of significant savings annually. An expert system was added to the grinding circuit to maximize efficiency. Changes to the cyclones and concentrate thickener optimized regrinding. Trommel magnets that remove worn steel balls from the ball mills are preventing damage to pumps, pipelines and cyclones.
Rougher flotation cells that are currently off-line will be refitted and restarted to further improve copper and gold recoveries. New drive pinions in the two SAG mills will speed them up and new liner profiles will both boost grinding capacity. Four more mill changes and reoptimization of pit design will further boost Northgate's bottom line.
President and CEO Ken Stowe noted, "When Northgate assumed control of the Kemess mine in early 2000, we put in place an ambitious turnaround plan to improve operating performance. A major part of this initiative involved assembling an experienced team with the skills necessary to make not only the physical changes necessary to improve operating efficiencies but also to create a culture where every employee takes pride in their work and continuously looks for ways to enhance productivity. The results over the first three years were quite dramatic. The culture of empowerment and continuous improvement that exists at Kemess has continued to generate substantial value for Northgate's shareholders during 2003. Equally important, especially in light of the strengthening Canadian dollar, is that our operating team at Kemess continues to identify and rapidly implement additional improvements that require only small capital outlays and provide quick paybacks."
Good work, Northgate. Learn more about a growing enterprise at www.northgateexploration.ca.