CARLIN – An old mine site has been reborn.
Barrick Gold Corp. began mining in its Arturo Mine this year. The new operation is located in the former Dee Pit, which is about 45 miles northwest of Elko. Barrick owns 60 percent of the project and Goldcorp owns the other 40 percent.
The Bureau of Land Management issued the mine’s record of decision May 9, 2014 and construction on the project began the end of 2014.
The mine will be mined in three phases, but it is starting in Phase 2 first, said Jerry Johnson, open pit technical services superintendent. Phase 2 is predominantly refractory ore and it will be sent to Goldstrike’s roaster and autoclave.
“It is about 90 percent refractory and about 10 percent oxide mill,” Johnson said. “It’s a smaller pit. It’s about 107 million total tons. It will be about 800 feet deep when we are done with it and about a half a mile in diameter, so significantly smaller than the Goldstrike Pit.”
He said the phases were named before all the drilling was completed, which is why Phase 2 will be mined before Phase 1. Mining with the 4100 shovel started on March 26. “The active shovel bench is just a wee bit of a highwall,” Johnson said.
Phases 1 and 3 are lower grade and 70 to 80 percent oxide heap leach or oxide mill, Johnson said. He didn’t expect mining to begin in Phase 1 or 3 until 2019.
“We’re building this project in a staged fashion, going after the higher grade, best economic pit first,” he said. “It gets us into Arturo without spending the large capital required to build the heap leach facility which these two phases need. … It’s out of order, but that comes from not having mines completely drilled out before you start planning them… further drilling upgraded Phase 2.”
“When we started permitting Arturo five or six years ago, obviously the environment was a little bit different, the economic environment was a little bit different,” said Goldstrike General Manager Andy Cole. “So once we finally got it permitted gold was back down to twelve- or thirteen-hundred dollars. … We got a bit of work to do. We’ll go in and get the mine established with the higher grade portion and then continue to optimize the oxide heap leach portion of Arturo.”
The Dee Pit was in closure and reclamation, but the Storm Underground, at the bottom of the pit, was mined from 2008 through last year, Cole said.
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