Saturday, September 22, 2018Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Red Lake Gold Corp.

red_s_418442606

The original mill was built in 1948 and was dismantled in early 2000. Following a high grade discovery and subsequent mine expansion, a new mill was commissioned in mid 2000 to treat the new high grade ore. It reached full production on the first of January, 2001.

Innovative techniques at Red Lake

Mining is primarily carried out at the site using underground cut and fill techniques, which extracts the maximum ore content with the least dilution. Red Lake has a high-grade, narrow vein system. The complex geometry of the ore body requires various mining cut and fill methods, operations that are specified for the unique circumstances of the site.

The processing facilities at Red Lake consist of three separate plants: the Crushing Plant, Processing Plant, and Pastefill Plant. The Crushing Plant consists of a two stage process which reduces underground ore size (12 inches to 3/8 inch). The ore is fed to the jaw crusher and then the sizing screen.

The implementation of innovative mining techniques, as well as improvements and refinements to other areas of the operation, has been the key to the success of the Red Lake Complex. Goldcorp has implemented the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology for mine design and planning purposes, and has recently built a state-of-the-art VR studio on site.

Overall, the mines at Red Lake offer Goldcorp exciting prospects, with the combination of both the Red Lake operations and the Campbell mines showing compelling operational and exploration possibilities.

Underground connections of the mines give access to new exploration platforms. The merger also provides an opportunity for Goldcorp to lower operating costs, which means lower grade ore can be mined profitably.

Between the Red Lake Gold mine’s dual complexes, the site produced 629,000 ounces in 2008. However, as Mike Lalonde, General Manager of the mine explains, the Red Lake camp is set to accomplish much more in the coming year.

Exciting prospects through safe operations

Lalonde has worked throughout Canada, Central America and the United States in both open pit and underground mining operations. “I’ve managed underground operations as low as .07 ounces a tonne, which is about two grams, up to Red Lake and this mine is running at about 1.3 ounces a tonne right now, so it’s been quite a variety from low-grade bulk mines to very high-grade, narrow vein mines. I’ve been with Goldcorp over three years now, starting out at the Marlin mine in Central America,” he says.

“Goldcorp’s philosophy is built upon a foundation of six principles which we refer to as our ‘Six Pillars’. These are; People, Safety, Production, Margins, Reserves and Partnerships. Everyone in the industry says that people are our most valuable asset and we certainly believe that to be true. We spend an exceptional amount of time in training our employees, and we are investing more than the industry average in time and money for training.”

Lalonde explains the story behind the strong safety conscious focus adopted by Goldcorp as such: “Less than two years ago, there was an industrywide safety conference held in Salt Lake City. All of Goldcorp’s senior managers were present. There was a question which came up during the conference that was put to the group. The group was asked ‘would you let a family member work on the most dangerous job in your mine?’ ” he recalls.

“The answer from probably about 85 to 90 per cent of the people at the conference was, ‘no, we wouldn’t.’ It was at that point that Goldcorp decided to make it our goal to make our operations safe enough for family members and we adopted that as a motto (“Safe Enough for Our Families”). That’s what we strive to do with our safety program.”

Goldcorp’s goals for growth

“On the production side, the Red Lake mine and Campbell mine are collectively producing 600,000 to 700,000 ounces a year,” Lalonde says. “We’ve integrated the mines, so that the old border between the mines is pretty hazy. We have Campbell people working in the low-grade zones in the upper Red Lake at the present time and we’re interconnecting the workings on the lower levels. We still call it Campbell and Red Lake but I think a few years down the road, if not sooner, it will probably be ”the A Block,” and “the B Block” or something like that.”

Lalonde explains that the Red Lake mine is a vital component in Goldcorp’s wider growth plan today. “Our CEO Chuck Jeannes (Charles A, Jeannes, Goldcorp CEO and President) has stated that our production is set to increase by 50 per cent over the next five years. Certainly the Bruce Channel deposit (the Cochenour project) is going to be a large part of that,” he says.

“The longer term goal is to increase production in the camp. We’re presently producing between 600,000 and 700,000 ounces. The plan is to grow Red Lake production in sync with the rest of the company.”

Reserves

Due to lack of a deep drilling platform, reserves in the High Grade Zone at the Red Lake Complex have not grown significantly for several years.

“At the end of the second quarter this year we developed an exploration drift at the bottom of the mine to provide a good drill platform. For the first time in many years we are extensively drilling the high-grade zone well below the 47 level which is 7,000 feet below surface. We’re expecting to build up high-grade zone reserves over the next several years,” Lalonde says.

“We’re drilling the Bruce Channel deposit from surface while we wait to gain access underground at the Cochenour project to drill the Gap zone, and we’re putting a big effort into reserves. We purchased the Bruce Channel Deposit last year. The deposit appears to be joined up with our Cochenour mine, a former-producing mine in the Red Lake camp. We’re presently dewatering the Cochenour shaft so that we can get down and drill an unknown zone which we call the Gap zone which lies between the Bruce Channel and the Cochenour mine. We’re hoping to be de-watered early in the new year and into that program to identify the Gap zone,” Lalonde explains.

“At the Bruce Channel we’re looking at about five million ounces, so we want to get that deposit developed for production as soon as possible. We’re doing a study with a number of shaft options, one of which is to enlarge and reactivate the Cochenour Shaft with a new hoisting plant, in combination with a haulage drift from the Campbell mine. Engineering studies will determine which option is the best. We will probably make a decision in the next month or so.”

The Bruce Channel deposit is only five Kilometres away from the existing Campbell and the Red Lake mines. “The grade is a bit higher than the average Campbell grade and, of course, a bit lower than the Red Lake Complex grade,” Lalonde says.“We’re also looking at the possibility of an open pit in Balmertown, near the Campbell complex. We’re currently evaluating data collected from an extensive drilling program last year.”

As Lalonde tells this exciting story of Goldcorp’s Red Lake mine, you can’t help but feel that it has really only just begun. As he charts their successful steps towards their increased production goal, Lalonde stresses that Goldcorp teamwork is the real power behind the progress.

“We have a very strong technical team and they’re really hard at work finding for the future of the Red Lake camp. We have a dedicated group of employees and they’re doing their part to make it happen, getting costs under control, increasing productivity, speeding up the development rate of the mine; it’s a team effort,” he says.

The Red Lake team’s commitment to their team, and to safety, echo a greater commitment that Goldcorp maintains to its employees as well as local communities, in continued efforts to grow sustainable operations.

Continuing the Goldcorp commitment to sustainability

Any operation with the Goldcorp name is sure to have the characteristics of a sustainable project. Goldcorp has long been committed to building strong, open and transparent relationships within their mines’ communities. The company understands that it is the responsibility of a good corporate citizen to “integrate economic, environmental, and social dimensions” into business processes. According to the company website, Goldcorp’s strategy as a responsible mining company is to “work in partnership with community bodies, government officials and other stakeholders to increase understanding and encourage open, constructive dialogue and trust”.

The company insists that making a positive difference in the countries where it operates is a primary focus, and the Red Lake mine camp is no different. Not only are Red Lake operations environmentally sustainable, but Goldcorp has committed to its local community in a socially responsible way.

Red Lake Mine—Stope School

Following the Goldcorp mandate to be socially sustainable, Goldcorp implemented a program with the First Nations in Northern Ontario, which intended to help develop 80 new underground miners over a three year period. The Stope School in the Red Lake mine district was started in 2005 to train new recruits, 80 per cent of which are Local Treaty 3 First Nations. By implementing this program, Goldcorp proves its commitment to local stakeholders.

Trainees at the Stope School learn activities related to underground mining, and when they complete the twelve week program, they receive the Ontario Common Core Certificate which enables them to find employment in an underground mine. In 2006, the mine successfully trained 31 young people, of which 26 are still employed at Goldcorp. The following year, 22 young adults were trained and 18 of those trainees are employed with the company.

Through this and other initiatives, Goldcorp is growing sustainably, and with a social conscience.

Now, as the Goldcorp team works towards achieving monumental production targets and building a sustainable future, it is clear that the company and Red Lake Gold Mine is growing at what appears to be a very exciting mine for the worldwide gold industry.

Recommended
cover_story_nov09_772086892