New Gold’s Rainy River Project, located north of Barwick, remains on schedule for its targeted mid-2017 start-up.
“It’s really coming along,” enthused general manager Grant Goddard, noting mine development is continuing.
“We’re moving lots of material,” he said. “We’re down another bench [level] so we have multiple levels, which is what is typically what you are looking for in a mine . . . to have a whole series of working levels.
“So we’re starting to open the mine up,” Goddard added. “It’s getting broader.
“We’re slowly peeling back the overburden.”
He noted they’re working around the ore, trying to get at the waste material so they can use it for road construction and hauling up to our tailings and to the crusher.
Goddard said they now have four sediment ponds.
“So right now we handle water that we pick up from rain or any groundwater and we pump it [into the pond], and we treat it and test it before releasing it back to the environment,” he explained.
He added other elements of the project also are progressing well, noting the overall construction progress is more than 45 percent complete, with the concrete placement, as well as the steelwork erection and cladding, both over 85 percent complete.
The power line also is complete while the main substation and switching station are more than 70 percent complete.
They are on schedule for connection to the hydro grid in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Within the processing plant, Goddard said the ball and SAG mill shells are in place.
Construction of the pre-leach thickener is complete while the leach tanks are more than 80 percent complete.
Meanwhile, work is continuing on the installation of the mechanical, piping, electrical, and instrumentation in the mill.
“We’ll have conveying systems probably in the next few weeks,” Goddard said.
Goddard noted they’ve been working on a re-design of the tailings management facility over the summer.
He said during the course of construction of the water management facility earlier this year, some of the material looked like it was settling in.
While not uncommon, the company did further testing and determined the strength of the foundation was less than estimated for the original designs.
“In very localized areas, there was very soft clay,” Goddard said.
Given those unreliable spots, New Gold decided to re-design the entire tailings management facility, which was reviewed by the Independent Tailings Review Board and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Goddard said the re-design includes the use of flatter slopes and wick drains, which means using more material.
“It’s the same design,” he stressed. “We’ve just added more material to make shallower slopes so there is more weight pressing down.”
New Gold estimated it will require eight million tonnes of additional construction rock to complete these structures, which represents roughly twice the amount of material previously estimated for completion of the water and tailings management facilities.
To facilitate the movement of this additional material, the company decided to accelerate the purchase of $35 million worth of equipment, including eight new haul trucks, one shovel, and two dozers, into the construction phase.
“We have a new truck being assembled now, so that’s our ninth truck, and we’ll have seven more coming in,” Goddard said, noting those will be arriving slowly over the next six weeks.
“That equipment we were going to buy in the second half of next year anyway, so we are just bringing it forward,” he reasoned.
The re-design does carry with it the added cost of bringing in the equipment early, but Goddard said the benefit for the district is that it pushes the recruitment process forward, as well.
“So we’ll see jobs sooner, and we get to start training and grow the workforce sooner,” he enthused.
Goddard said their original plan was that the hiring of process plant operations and maintenance workers (Wave 3) was going to occur before the hiring of the next round of surface miners and maintenance (Wave 2).
But due to the re-design, they’ve already starting to recruit and hire for “Wave 2.”
He noted they’ve brought in eight people already this week, and will be seeing the on-boarding of five or six new workers each week.
Goddard added there currently are 250 on full-time operations, with more than 70 percent from local communities, including over 30 percent from indigenous ones.
They anticipate bringing in another 90 surface miners and maintenance workers, as well as about 60 process plant operations, bringing the expected total workers to about 400 by the second quarter of next year.
Meanwhile, with so much going on at the site, New Gold is offering public tours—with two going today and another on Saturday—due to public interest.
“People have been asking,” Goddard said, noting they do tours for different organizations but members of the general public also want to see first-hand how the project is coming along.
“They are hearing about it from people who work there.”
He added it was a good time for the tours because there are things to see, lots of people doing work, and they figured it would be best to do them before winter arrives.
“We had lots of interest,” Goddard said, noting there is a long waiting list for the tours.