Home > News > A massive economic boost to...

A massive economic boost to Northern Ontario supply & service industry

Aug 13, 2021

By: Kevin Vincent, Mining Life

The project’s new Deputy General Manager, Mike Garbutt outlined what has been happening at the project when he spoke at the Mining the Abitibi Virtual Conference. “IAMGOLD is relatively new to Northern Ontario. IAMGOLD is a Canadian-based mid-tier mining company with three gold operations on three continents, the first of which Essakane is in Burkina Faso, Rosebel is in Suriname and then the Westwood Mine in the Abitibi region. Our development projects include, of course, Côté Gold in Ontario, the Boto project in Senegal, and as well we have a number of greenfield, brownfield exploration projects in various countries located in West Africa and as well in the Americas.”

Mike Garbutt
Deputy General Manager, Mike Garbutt, CôtéGold Mine, Gogama

Garbutt says the company has a strong culture of accountable mining and high standards of environmental and social governance practices across all areas in which they operate. They have a commitment to zero harm in every aspect of the business. “This certainly has been our guide and vision over the last dozen years. And right now, company-wide, we employ about 5,000 people total.”
“IAMGOLD along with our joint venture partner, Sumitomo Mining is in the process of building this new mine here in Northern Ontario. Obviously it’ll be open pit mine, traditional truck shovel mine, the entire site will produce about 367,000 ounces on average per year. In the first six years, it’ll be a little higher, we’ll see an average about 469,000 ounces on an annual basis.”
The new mill capacity is going to be 13.1 million tons per year. “The maximum mine output is going to be 70 million tons per year, so we’ll have a bit of a stockpile. And the operating life of the asset is about 18 years. Life of mine waste/ore stripping ratio is 2.71. Average grade just under 1 gram of gold per ton. We’re going to be forecasting to create about $10 billion in economic activity and about $5 billion in wages, direct and indirect throughout the life of the mine, a very important asset to the region for sure.”
The mine is located in the traditional territory of the Matagami First Nation and Flying Post First Nation. The company has IBAs with each community, as well as a memorandum of understanding with the Métis Nation of Ontario.
“Our two closest neighbors being Mattagami First Nation which is about 40 kilometers north of the site and Gogama which is about 20 kilometers away, and we do have very close relationships with both those communities. One of the key features of our community relations framework is our socio-economic management monitoring plans that we’ve established both with our IBA partners as well as the community of Gogama,” said Garbutt.
Garbutt says the importance of these plans is the foundation to record baseline data for various social and economic indicators in the community which provides a structure to be monitored over time. The idea is together with the communities, they’ll observe trends, and make adjustments as needed. “But overall, our approach to the communities has been really about a strong focus on engagement, which is really about being part of the community and not really, only working with pacifying objections. It’s about genuine strategies. It’s about participation and investment just so we can ensure sustainable prosperity for these communities.”
Garbutt says the company is tracking well on construction milestones. At the site, the big focus for the company this year is official relocation and earthworks work in the pit area. “At the site, the work requires a significant amount of water course realignment.”
One of the big challenges is relocating fish. Replacing the habitat removed by mining activities is really one of the big focuses for early construction at Côté. As you know the Côté deposit is actually located in part between a small lake, so redirecting the water to create a new lake, relocating fish to other water bodies is a big part of the work. We started this work last summer, it will continue throughout the construction period this year.”

Another key milestone for IAMGOLD in 2021 is advancing to plant construction. The majority of work this year is earthworks, site prep phase, and getting ready for construction. “We’re finishing construction on the permanent camp. I think the name for the camp is going to be called Camp Eagle Lodge. We are now thinking about how to add some attractive features for the people that are staying there for recreational purposes, so there’s a lot of work still to do.”

Building the mine of the future

A big part of the plans for operation is autonomous mining and autonomous equipment. The open pit mine will be serviced by a fleet of 23 CAT 793F autonomous trucks as well as 6 Epiroc Pit Viper 231s. “We like to think this could be the mine of the future, but really it’s the mine of today. And the technology around autonomous mining may not be common here in Ontario, but the technology is certainly deployed extensively throughout the world with very successful results. On the bottom point, CAT who engages our partner with the autonomous trucks is really a global leader in putting this technology together at similar operations,” said Garbutt.
The company believes that implementing advanced technology is instrumental in the long-term profitability of Côté. The impact of autonomous haulage and drilling on costs spread across the tonnages with mining is significant. Some of the cost savings are driven by the advantages of autonomous equipment is higher equipment productivity, no shift changes, better optimal positioning for truck shovel interactions, and reduced maintenance. “Because the continuous operation and the operation within the standard parameters for the trucks is almost guaranteed, reduced manpower requirements but really resulting in ultimately a reduced camp size, and accommodation costs,” said Garbutt.
Garbutt says the processing plant design is well advanced and orders for many long lead items have already been placed. One of the unique features of the plant design is a high pressure grinding rolling mill which is going to be the largest HPGR in Canada. The technology is not new, but it’s uncommon in Canada. The hardness and nature of the ore at Côté makes it well suited to this application.
“Some of the benefits of HPGR certainly are reduced energy consumption compared to traditional sag ball mill configurations and certainly lower maintenance,” said Garbutt. “The plant itself is going to be highly automated with an advanced comminution circuit that includes two-stage grinding which has a ball mill, and it’s supported by two vertical mills. The vertical mills, another interesting thing, largest on the market and certainly our proven technology and have been proven to be effective at several of other sites.”
The company is rapidly advancing the project and already they are looking at expansion with the Gosselin zone, just north of the Côté pit. The company is currently drilling and has returned some fairly wide intervals of mineralization hosted within some of the same type of altered differentiated intrusions that the Côté deposit contains.
“The exploration target is for about a 3-5 million ounce resource at grades ranging from 0.7 to 1.2 grams per ton of gold.”
The company’s hiring timelines are also underway. “We believe it’s an opportunity to work differently. At Côté, we believe in integrating people and technology in a unique way. And we want people to be interested in doing things differently.”
IAMGOLD says it will apply high operational standards for safety, for performance, for efficiency, as they take an active role in shaping the future of mining. “We want the people we bring along to do the same. So we need people that are curious about mining technology, people that have the ability to learn on the job, people that can adapt. We believe, progress in mining is done through hard-fought learnings, earned through experience, and so we do need experienced people and good training programs so we can bring people along for the journey with us.”

For this article and more read Northern Ontario's exclusive mining magazine. The summer issue is packed with 100 pages of articles on today's mining industry happenings. Enjoy.

Front Cover

Tags: Northern Ontario / New Projects / Gold / All Articles