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Barrick implements major changes at Hemlo

Oct 13, 2020

One of the world’s biggest gold miners is breathing new life into a historic, small-town gold mine and the company is bringing the community along for the ride.
Barrick Gold Corporation made news this summer when Warren Buffett broke his longtime investment wedding vows (our words, not his) and funneled more than US $600 million into the global mining giant.
But that news was likely ignored by most residents of Marathon, Ontario this August as Barrick, which operates the Hemlo Gold Mine, announced it would continue a community investment program in the region designed to prop up existing, local small businesses as well as new business startups.
Mine manager Adam Foulstone says the program announced earlier this year in the midst of the COVID pandemic was well received by the community, so they’ve decided to extend the support program. To date, the company has distributed more than $630,000.  
Foulstone told Mining Life, “We established a stimulus package for the local communities where they can access $5000-$10,000 loans at a very low interest rate funded by Barrick – we’re going to keep that going for quite some time – not necessarily tied to COVID.”
“We also did a lot of work around donating PPE and sanitizer and shared insight into how to start up a small business in line with provincial requirements,” he added.
“Because PPE was so scarce for a while, we had some in stock, so it was easy for us to assist.”
In addition, during the second quarter, company representatives met weekly, with all local First Nation Chiefs, CEO’s, local town Mayor’s, CAO’S and Health Leads on COVID-19 mitigation plans for open and transparent partnership sharing.
Barrick also met with First Nations communities on new exploration permits and 3-year plans, completed our legal review with our Social Economic Agreements with our First Nation Partners and are moving to signing.
Barrick assisted the local First Nations to Shelter in place and allow their workers from the Mine site to self-isolate with family while still being compensated.
Barrick’s Chief Operating Officer also worked closely with the Ontario Mining Association to lobby on implementing COVID-19 testing for remote high-risk communities.
That strategy seemed to work at the Hemlo/Marathon operation as the company didn’t (at the time of this writing) experience any COVID cases or interruptions in production.  
On the development front, Hemlo took possession of two new Sandvik autonomous jumbo drills for the company’s high-speed development goals, and eight Sandvik 45-ton haul trucks. The new trucks move more ore than the company’s existing fleet and it includes an ejector box which means it does not need to lift the box to dump it. The jumbo drill software allows it to drill holes on its own, even between shift changes.

Portal Entrance 
Foulstone says the company intends to replace the entire production fleet, roughly $18 million worth. That’s over and above the company’s $25 million exploration budget.
Aussie contractor Barminco took over the underground operations in early August. The company employs 330 workers including 33 senior personnel who have moved to the Marathon area from Australia, including shift bosses, jumbo operators, and production drillers.
“Things are starting to come together now, we really only commissioned the new equipment in late August, so we will see how that turns out,” said Foulstone.
In early September, Foulstone says work began on a new access portal, opening an entirely new orezone for the company.
“It’s the third mining front, which will come into production in Q3 of 2021 which will take the mine to around two million tons per year, which is a pretty big milestone for us,” said Foulstone. “It’s one thing getting it approved – it’s another to just start a new portal for an operation that’s over 30 years old.”
Foulstone says it bodes well the mine’s future which he told Mining Life is “likely underestimated as well”.
The mine was underperforming in 2018 and the Barrick takeover included a robust turnaround plan designed to boost Hemlo’s slumping output. The company is on track to meet 2020 guidance of 200,000 to 220,000 ounces and thanks to a multi-million dollar investment as many as 240,000 to 250,000 ounces by the end of 2021.
The new portal has been designed to accommodate the newer, larger haul trucks.
Heading into the fourth quarter of 2020 Foulstone says that considering the adjustments for COVID, the mine was slightly over budget but otherwise, very healthy.


Tags: Northern Ontario / Operational Updates / Gold / All Articles