January 17, 2012
Title: Huckleberry Mines goes shopping
Sub-title: Extension plan means significant new equipment purchase investments.
Purchasing staff at Huckleberry Mine will be busy during coming weeks, following formal board approval for a project that will extend extraction work at the copper deposit until 2021. According to company officials close to $25 million will be spent on equipment alone.
“We’ll be buying six haul trucks, two bulldozers, one electric mining surface drill, two road maintenance graders an excavator and numerous other devices,” said Randall Thompson, the mine’s general manager. “The facility already has excellent infrastructure, serviced through a tri-funded log hauling road and highway network, so few changes will have to be made on that score.”
Huckleberry Mine, which is co-owned by Imperial Metals and a consortium of Japanese companies, produces copper and accessory gold and silver. The facility has been in operation since 1997. Current output is bout 14,000 tonnes per day, drawn from porphyry copper-molybdenum deposits located on southern slopes of Huckleberry Mountain in central British Columbia.
The company’s main zone optimization plan projects the development of a mineral reserve that is roughly located beneath and slightly outside the existing open pit. Once implemented a projected average of 43.2 million pounds will be produced annually between 2011 and 2019. Production will then gradually tail off over the remaining years.
Seven more years
The Huckleberry expansion, which will extend the mine’s life by seven years, will preserve 230 full-time and 30 contract positions and will create another 70 new jobs say company officials. Key to the optimization plan will be construction of a new Tailings Management Facility, which will kick off in May.
The new location will store waste rock that had been accumulating in an older pit, as well as effluent resulting from the mine extension. The initial starter tailing damn construction, which will be done using waste rock from around the mine site, is expected to take about 24 months. However its height will be raised several times during subsequent years. According to the company’s technical report on mine operations, the tailings management facility, which is the third that will be build as part of the Huckleberry Mines operation, is scheduled to begin receiving waste rock in 2012, and tailings in 2013.
The damn itself will be a zoned earth, cyclone NAG sand and rock fill embankment that will eventually extend to a final crest elevation of 995m. The Huckleberry Mine extension was big news in adjoining communities. The facility is located 123 kilometres southwest of Houston in the province’s resource rich centre.
According to Thompson, the company’s employees and those who live in the adjoining region will be among the biggest winners stemming from the extension announcement. “Most of the people who work at the mine come from the area and have stuck with us throughout, even during lean times,” notes Thompson. “They are thus naturally proud and more excited than anybody that they will have some job security during coming years, barring a shift in market demand. The First Nations located in the area are also quite supportive due to potential employment and business opportunities that will unfold.”
Of course the new equipment purchases are only part of the company’s overall investment in the initiative. Huckleberry Mines is expected to spend close to $254.4 million on wages and benefits over project’s life cycle, as well as additional amounts on contractors. Total spending will also include $119 million in new acquisitions and $82 million in new construction. Initial indications are that the new mine extension could not be coming onstream at a better time. Global copper demand, which closely tracks economic growth, has been exceptionally strong in recent years, particularly in emerging nations, many of which are making substantial infrastructure investments.
Randall Thompson VP Operations,
Mine general manager,
Mobile: 250 895 0916
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