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Evolution Mining plans to refocus the historic Red Lake Mine Complex

Mar 5, 2022

By Frank Giorno, Mining Life
Speaking at the Mining the Northwest Virtual Conference in December 2021 Kristy Liddicoat the general manager for Evolution Mining’s Red Lake Operations said Red Lake is on a transformation journey.
Evolution Mining has owned Red Lake for about 16 months since it purchased the mine complex from Newmont Goldcorp in April 2020.
“We want to be a safe state sustainable and profitable operation,” Liddicoat said.
“Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our people, and all the people in the communities where we operate. We are very much focused around living and operating in the community,” Liddicoat stated. “Sustainability is integrated in everything we do; we want to have a positive impact and leave a positive legacy and run a safe and sustainable operation.”
The Red Lake mining district had its start in the 1930s, but World War 2 interrupted gold mining in favour of more strategic metals and minerals. The Red Lake Mine opened in 1949. By 2004 The Red Lake Mining District produced 22 million oz. of gold, worth over $US 35 billion at 2014 prices. The two principal mines, Campbell and Red Lake, both have historic ore grades averaging about 0.57 oz/ton Au (22 g/tonne) according to a report produced by Goldcorp a previous owner the mine had produced ( “Red Lake - Overview & Operating Highlights” . Goldcorp 2013)
The mine still was full of potential, but Newmont Goldcorp who purchased Red Lake from Goldcorp decided to rationalize its operations and Red Lake was no longer part of its future and sold it to Evolution Mining.
“About 18 months ago Red Lake mine was due to close, but now the mine has a new life, and we know the mine has reserves of over 11 million oz. with a mine life upwards of 15 years,” explained Liddicoat at the time of the conference.
In the first year of Evolution’s ownership, Red Lake produced 126,339 oz. of gold at an AISC of US$2,044 per ounce which was within both production and cost guidance. The three-year transformation program at Red Lake is well underway to restore the operation’s production to above 200,000 oz. per year at an AISC of less than US$1,000 per ounce.
“Our long-term vision for this site is to produce between 300 and 500,000 oz. of gold per year at less than $1,000 ACPOS. There is a lot of work we need to do,” she said. “One of the key things behind that is changing the way we approach mining.”
In May 2021, Evolution consolidated its presence in the Red Lake mining district as it purchased the nearby Batemen Mine from Battle North Gold.
Evolution’s consolidated operation will consist of the Lower Red Lake, Upper Campbell, Cochenour and McFinley mining areas that will provide ore to the Campbell, Red Lake and Bateman mills with a total processing capacity target of two million tonnes by 2026.

Evolution Electric Fleet

Updating Technology

As Evolution pursues its modernization, they are replacing the aging fleets it acquired from Newmont Goldcorp and are looking at becoming more environmentally friendly by adding electric battery vehicles to their fleet. They recently purchased an electric fleet including heavy haul trucks, electric light vehicles and just recently the received their first.
The change will remove diesel trucks and end carbon emissions. In addition, mine safety will improve as miners are removed from drilling the rock face in favour of remotely operated drilling.
“We are looking at how we can actually mine more productively, particularly in high seismic areas where depth is one and a half to two kilometers and we face fairly significant seismic events,” said Liddicoat.

Red Lake community and First Nations

Evolution prefers to employ locally from the community including their Wabauskang and Lac Seul First Nation Partners. However, like many other operations, Evolution is experiencing critical skill shortages. They look to the local community, other parts of Canada and to attracting engineering, particularly geotechnical programmers and data calculators to work at the mine from their Australian operations.
A shortage in skilled local trades has seen Evolution’s apprenticeship programs include recruits from nearby Wabauskang and Lac Seul First Nation.
“We have an extraordinarily strong relationship with our First Nation partners,” Liddicoat said. “We are bringing in new people to our community, through our apprenticeship program, as we need to attract people to live in Red Lake and develop critical skills that we need – it’s a beautiful community to live in.”

Mill Modernization

Though there are 3 mills at Red Lake owned by Evolution only one operates. Additional mill capacity will be need in the next two years if Evolution is looking to process, and upwards of 2 million t of ore per year during the next two years.
Bateman Mill recently acquired in the Evolution purchase of Battle North Gold is currently licensed to 1800 tonnes but has the capacity 2500 tonnes.

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