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Evolution’s Journey to Securing Red Lake’s Future

Dec 12, 2022

Red Lake Operation (RLO) remains a cornerstone asset for Evolution Mining – its journey to being restored into a premier Canadian gold mine continues with safe and sustainable operations. Their focus is on the surface, in the community and deep underground. Evolution’s high-grade asset is situated on one of North America’s highest-grade gold camps with outstanding exploration potential in a tier-one mining jurisdiction with Mineral Resources of 11.7Moz and Ore Reserves of 2.9Moz. The Red Lake Operation currently has an 18-year life-of-mine plan. Evolution has also recently completed a strategic acquisition from Battle North Gold, which has a New 600ktpa mill facility expandable to 900ktpa with minimal capital. The land package of +280km2 has a transformation plan to produce an aspirational 350kozpa, accelerated by the operational synergies of the Battle North Gold acquisition. Evolution has significant exploration upside – exploration expenditure of US$50M over three years with a planned annual drilling rate of 100,000m. This comes with a long-term regional potential to grow the current resource.


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Photo: James Binnie the Project Manager, Evolution Mining was a guest speaker in Thunder Bay’s CEN CAN Expo in September 2022

James Binnie the Project Manager for Evolution Mining was a guest speaker in Thunder Bay’s CEN CAN Expo in September 2022. James spoke about the evolution of Evolution Mining’s Red Lake mine.  The Red Lake Operation is centered around  the Municipality of Red Lake with their processing assets, the mining declines and shafts all situated within that area.
The current workforce predominantly are residents from the Red Lake region with approximately 10% Indigenous employees, which is in line with about the same number of Indigenous residents in the Red Lake area.
Evolution continues to have a strong working relationship with provincial and federal government agencies and has a closure plan in place for the Red Lake properties. They have long-term partnerships with the Wabauskang and Lac Seul First Nation communities and spend about $11 million Canadian annually with local businesses and their First Nations partners. “Our first nation partners have active collaboration agreements and we’re currently modernizing those at this time, stated James.
A fine example of their commitment to the communities in which they operate was the recent donation of a fire truck in response to the forest fires which they had in 2021. The new truck was donated to the Balmertown fire station. The truck was a clone of the existing vehicles they use and now they have three of them in service. This enables ease of maneuverability within the municipality and enables the municipality to continue to train firefighters and use the same equipment no matter where they’re needed.
Evolution has a strong sustainability stewardship and continue to meet or exceed their regulatory requirements. Evolution has had no material environmental incidents and have had an internal review board established for their tailings storage facilities. Evolution has a commitment to net zero by 2050. In terms of Evolution’s carbon footprint, they are the smallest contributor to carbon emissions in Evolution, due mostly to hydroelectric power and look forward to building on that success with the purchase of electric vehicles which have a zero net carbon footprint.
James said to the audience present at the conference, “You would have seen when you walked in the front gate of the trade show grounds, there’s an Epiroc mine truck displayed there which is on its way to the mine, imminently.” This is just one of many electric vehicle pieces of equipment on its way to the mine site.
They have others such as scoop trams or underground loaders, mine carriers and more as they phase into the net zero goal.
“We’re seeing the cleaner, quieter zero emission machines operating at lower costs. And, there is good operator acceptance. You can’t help but notice how quiet they are and there’s no diesel particulates, which also makes it safer to operate for our workforce as opposed to the older style diesel trucks,” said James.


Mining Infrastructure


The Cochenour Shaft, which once served to bring ore to the surface, is now a service shaft for underground workings. Ore from the Cochenour mining zone now travels underground on a high-speed tram and travels 5.5 kilometers under the Red Lake airport and runway.
Ore travels to the Reid Shaft, which is the primary ore hoist for the Lower Cochenour and Campbell mine zones and as it comes to surface the ore will make its way to the Campbell or Red Lake Mills.
Evolution now has the CYD (Campbell Young Decline). This is a new surface portal and decline in development and will act as the primary access to the Upper Campbell and HG Young mining zones. This will enable Evolution to increase their mining rates.
They also have the Balmer #3 Shaft which acts as the primary ore hoist for the Red Lake mine underground workings.
The newly acquired Bateman mill sits beside the McFinley ore body.
In the presentation, James referred to a large screen shot of the ore resources and said the current Cochenour ore body has about three to four years of production left in that part of the mining plan. He said however there are some exciting drilling results coming in from that area and there may be potential to extend the life of that ore body further.


The Red Lake Vision / Evolution’s Journey Forward


Evolution had a clear vision for Red Lake when they acquired it. A key to Evolution’s journey is putting the right people in the right roles. Part of why they were at the CEN CAN Expo was to look at recruiting people into the growing organization.
Binnie said, “I’m sure we’re not alone. It’s a very difficult market at the moment to get people into certain technical roles. And there’s been a lot of work to get our leadership team on site established. And you know, I think we’ve got it right, now.”
Evolution had a display set up and their HR department was accepting resumes and speaking to career seekers that were looking to fill those open job positions.


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Pic.:Evolution’s booth at CEN CAN Expo was an excellent opportunity to connect with current and potential vendors, meet others in the industry, and showcase our operation and the transformation journey in Red Lake!

Evolution is looking at increasing production in mining, and milling, which has the benefit of reducing costs. They are looking to access more tonnes and more ounces which will help to spread their operating costs across their growth plan and this will help support a long life at the mine.
They have a clear pathway to 200,000 ounces per annum plus they’re increasing their mining rates as they have multiple mining zones now and higher grades from the upper Campbell deposit.
A portion of the Upper Campbell deposit is already mined but the path forward is a new high-grade mine at Upper Campbell. Evolution has developed a decline from surface that will connect to the historic underground decline. They’ve started from surface and have since reached the old 3 level. Underground, they have started stripping at 14 level and are now working their way up the decline climb where the two will join in the middle. This will help to increase mining rates substantially and  will lend its hand to an opportunity to grow the processing infrastructure and increase production for the site.
James Binnie said in his presentation the reason for being here in Canada is to work on processing infrastructure.
“We have the Campbell Mill which has an existing capacity of about .8 million tonnes per annum; the Red Lake Mill, which is about .35 million tonnes per annum and the Bateman which is currently being built at .45 million tonnes but is expandable to about 1 million tonnes per annum. The opportunity that we see before us is to actually look at what we’ve got and optimize the processing assets across the business. One of the key considerations for growing Bateman is if you look at where the ore will be predominantly coming to surface over the next 10 years, it’s quite a substantial distance about 15 kilometers out to Bateman. So that would require overland transport of the ore to that facility and piping of tailings back to the Red Lake tailing facility. We don’t intend to deposit tailings out at Bateman. There’s about two years of tailings storage out there at site at the moment. But the long-term strategy is actually to centralize all our tailings facilities in the existing Red Lake TSF tailings storage facility.”
When Evolution purchased, the mine, it was operating just under 1 million tonnes per annum, and through operational improvements and some additional effort put into the mine operation,  they’ve got it up to 1.1million tonnes per annum. The new mill optimization study is going to take them to the next step, which is about 1.8 million tonnes per annum. Therefore, Evolution is developing a clear strategy which is to optimize and rationalize the site processing infrastructure.
In closing James said, “We’ll undertake trade off studies to look at where we can best place infrastructure, what we do with our existing assets to really optimize the site, reduce our costs, and spend capital in the right place to deliver on our 1.8 million tonne target. I guess the exciting thing is, we’re a rare thing in this industry, we actually have multiple options to expand our milling rights, which is, a pretty good place to be in. We have a clear pathway to our 200,000 ounce target per annum. We have exciting growth upside. With the real aim of returning Red Lake to a Premier Canadian gold mine.”


For this article and more visit the digital copy of: The Northern Ontario Mining Report

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