Rambler Metals and Mining

Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Future

The Baie Verte Peninsula on Newfoundland’s northwest coast contains a wealth of mineral deposits that have drawn the interest of mining companies for more than a century. It is here that Rambler Metals and Mining have their main operation, on the property they acquired from Altius Minerals Corporation in 2005. The Ming and West Ming mines previously yielded gold and copper, with the former in operation until 1982 and the latter until 1996.

George Ogilvie, president and chief executive officer of Rambler since February 2008, joined the company in October 2006 as chief operating officer. He was charged with taking Rambler’s Ming mine from an exploration project to a producing mine within five years.

Ogilvie says that a detailed engineering study with an undated NI43-101 resource estimate will be completed early in 2009 that will give Rambler a good picture of returns and allow them to work on project financing in the year’s second quarter. “We have some new discoveries here at the mine that are extremely high grade, better than six per cent copper equivalent,” Ogilvie says. “Even at today’s extremely low commodity prices, the mine on an operating basis can still be profitable.” If the timeline above falls into place, there will be a year-long period of construction before the mine can go into operation, bringing that date to the middle of 2010.

Waiting out the markets
The estimated capital cost to get the mine back into production is about $30 million. This amount, Ogilvie says, would get the mine producing about 650 tonnes per day of ore. Though Ogilvie admits that the current state of the markets is concerning, Rambler has been in talks with several banks and commodity trading companies for about a year now and is confident about being able to bring the mine into production and stay profitable, even if the value of copper were to fall below a dollar per pound.

“Maybe I’m the eternal optimist,” says Ogilvie, “but I feel really confident that when we start to come out of the current recession, there’s going to be a tremendous demand for a lot of raw materials and a lot of commodities.” Companies that can emerge with healthy financial situations will benefit from high-demand, low-supply conditions, says Ogilvie. Positive signs from the key US market include recent comments from President-elect Barack Obama, who has said he will stimulate the economy with investments in infrastructure, something that will likely demand significant amounts of copper.

Cleaning up, keeping green
Rambler keeps a close eye on the environmental impact it has on its property and nearby areas, and it has taken several significant actions to eliminate or mitigate negative effects. Since the land that the company took over was home to previous mining operations, in 2006 it commissioned Golder Associates to conduct baseline sampling over the entire property before any significant amount of work took place.

Since then, Rambler has continued Golder’s recommended sample sites including the downstream area affected by the previous owner’s tailings facility , as well as any ponds and streams on the property or in its watershed. The results are shared with the Department of the Environment on a quarterly basis, so it can see what the condition of the property was before Rambler took over and what impacts their operations have had since. “I’m happy to report that in the three years that we’ve actually been operating here, we’ve always been in full compliance with federal and provincial regulations,” Ogilvie says. When it took over the site Rambler also discovered old transformers from the previous operation, some of which were leaking PCBs after being exposed to the elements for years. They had the transformers drained and were responsibly and safely disposed of, along with the remaining PCBs.

Another legacy that Rambler had to tackle was that the mine was filled with water that, understandably, contained elevated levels of copper, zinc, and ammonia after sitting stagnant for 25 years. The dirty water could not be released straight into the watershed, so in 2007 Rambler build a wastewater treatment plant. The treated water from the mine is then discharged into the neighbouring river system, eventually making its way to the ocean. “The residual sludge that’s left over from the process is pumped back underground into an old area of the mine, which is no longer used and has no ore resource or reserves,” says Ogilvie.

Healthy ties to a reinvigorated community
Rambler has worked hard to establish and maintain a positive dialogue with the mine’s nearest town, Baie Verte, which is located just 13 km from the site. The town thrived as the home base for three or four mines that operated in the area in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, but as the mines closed in the last two decades, the town’s population has significantly diminished. It was welcome news in Baie Verte when Rambler announced it was going to invest in the abandoned mine site, initially with a surface diamond drill program and eventually with the ongoing underground program. When Ogilvie joined Rambler in 2006, the company had five employees, but today it has grown to a staff of 42, 90 per cent of who are from Baie Verte or the surrounding area, Ogilvie estimates. Rambler now has quarterly meetings with community members, telling them about current operations at the mine and upcoming plans. The positive financial impact on the town—workers from the area are earning wages that are being spent there—is evidenced by a housing boom, with new homes being built where none had gone up in the last 10 years or more.

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