The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.
TIMMINS – Goldcorp’s Dome Mine is the longest continuously operating underground gold mine in North America and it looks like that is easily going to continue for a few more years yet, according to the company’s newest mine general manager
“I think the Dome Mine has still got lots of life left in it,” said Brendan Zuidema, the newly appointed manager of Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM). He was the keynote speaker to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce “Inside Business” luncheon held Thursday.
Zuidema said a lot of the attention in recent months has been directed at the new Hollinger open pit, which observed the first anniversary of its first production blast just two days ago on Wednesday. Zuidema said there are other PGM operations that are just as important in sustaining the company and its 1,100 jobs in Timmins.
“We’ve got right now in reserves five years left at the Dome Mine, for underground,” said Zuidema. “I am not sure what we have in the open pit. The open pit is not done. The Dome Mine is one of those mines that keeps on giving and giving.”
As an example, Zuidema described a bulk stope (a large underground excavation) at the mine that was expected to provide about 400,000 tonnes of muck. He said it produced nearly double at 800,000 tonnes. “We called it the magic stope. The ore just kept coming,” he said.
Zuidema said the Dome has begun a process of drilling and blasting around the old narrow stopes to recover old material that includes old sand and backfill, along with newly found gold.
He said the company developed a new underground rock screening device that allows muckers to safely separate the new ore from the old backfill material. Zuidema said the ore recovery was such that he thought it might extend the life of the mine by a couple of years just from that one stope by itself.
He told the audience that the Dome first went into production in 1910 as an underground mine and that the open pit began full production in 1995. He said there are ideas on the drawing board, but if the pit was to be expanded any further, it would mean moving the surface infrastructure at the Dome such as the main headframe, the office building and the pit shop.
“There are still big opportunities for us. We’re thinking of innovative ideas right now on how we can do this really bulk mining, big bulk mining with million-tonne stopes underground. We’re doing some studies. We’re looking at a lot of different options.
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