Brucejack makes a difference in 22 days
Newcrest's new Canadian mine contributes gold and cashflow North of 60 Mining News – April 29, 2022
Last updated 4/28/2022 at 2:21pm
Contributing 17,001 ounces of gold over the first 22 days after Newcrest Mining Ltd. acquired Brucejack Mine, this high-grade underground operation in British Columbia's prolific Golden Triangle is already bolstering the Australia-based company's bottom line.
"In March 2022, we completed the Pretium acquisition, adding the world class Brucejack mine to our already exceptional asset portfolio, generating immediate gold production and cash flows this quarter," said Newcrest Mining CEO Sandeep Biswas.
After finalizing a roughly US$2.8 billion buyout of Pretium Resources Inc. on March 9, Newcrest gained full ownership of Brucejack. With only 22 days left in the first quarter of the calendar year, the operation continued its tradition of producing nearly 1,000 oz of gold per day, on average.
Building on a solid foundation established by Pretium, Newcrest has initiated a three-phase plan to unlock the full potential of its new high-grade underground gold mine and the district-scale property it is located on.
The initial phase of this plan includes the implementation of the Australian mining company's NewSafe safety and critical control management programs for high-risk tasks. The company says this will provide a framework for the next evolution of safety at Brucejack, with a focus on eliminating life-changing injuries and fatalities.
Newcrest is also bringing new technologies to Brucejack that will improve safety, efficiency, and productivity at the underground mine, including:
• Improved mine equipment tracking and monitoring via underground mine dispatch and communication capabilities.
• Progressive adoption of semi-autonomous and autonomous mining equipment.
• Asset management and asset health monitoring capabilities.
• An assessment of ore sorting technology to upgrade the already high-grade ore at Brucejack.
As it onboards these technologies, the Australian miner is assessing the potential to expand the mill throughput to 4,500 to 5,000 metric tons per day, which is a roughly 18% to 32% boost to the current 3,800 t/d processing rate.
Newcrest believes that much of this mill throughput increase can be achieved by simply eliminating bottlenecks in the current process, making this a potentially low-cost, high-reward gold production initiative.
The mining company also sees no shortage of high-grade ore to feed into this expanded operation. In March, Biswas said the Brucejack claims cover "one of the largest epithermal footprints we have ever seen."
Going into 2021, the Valley of the Kings deposit currently being mined at Brucejack hosted 11.5 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 8.7 grams per metric ton (3.2 million oz) gold and 9.8 g/t (3.6 million oz) silver.
An extensive exploration program carried out by Pretium last year further delineated several expansion targets immediately surrounding Valley of the Kings and discovered bonanza grade gold at exploration targets across the larger property.
Newcrest is following up on this work with expansive drilling at Brucejack, including a 200,000-meter program slated for 2022.
"Brucejack is very early in its mine life and offers significant exploration upside with the land package largely unexplored," said Biswas.
North Block, one of the Valley of the Kings expansion targets, is one of the areas Newcrest sees the potential to significantly increase reserves and expand mining in the near term.
The Australian miner reported that one hole drilled this year at North Block, VU-3489 cut 28.5 meters averaging 262 g/t (8.4 ounces per metric ton) gold, including a one-meter bonanza grade subsection averaging 7,400 g/t (237.9 oz/t) gold.
This is similar to Pretium's 2021 drilling at North Block, which included:
• 9.5 meters averaging 306.6 g/t (9.9 oz/t) gold, including one meter averaging 5,910 g/t (190 oz/t) gold.
• 15 meters averaging 561.5 g/t (18 oz/t) gold, including one meter averaging 8,400 g/t (270 oz/t) gold.
• 15 meters averaging 493.2 g/t (15.9 oz/t) gold, including one meter averaging 7,360 g/t (236.6 oz/t) gold.
Newcrest also reported very high-grade gold results from drilling at 1080 Level East, another Valley of the Kings expansion target that lies outside the current resource.
Hole VU-3570 cut three high-grade gold zones at 1080 Level East:
• 17 meters averaging 41 g/t gold (1.3 oz/t) gold from 189 meters, including one meter averaging 662 g/t (21.3 oz/t) from 205 meters.
• 16.5 meters averaging 35 g/t (1.1 oz/t) gold from 252 meters, including one meter averaging 205 g/t (6.6 oz/t) gold from 252 meters and one meter averaging 316 g/t (10.2 oz/t) gold from 266 meters.
• 34.5 meters averaging 16 g/t gold from 286.5 meters, including one meter averaging 359 g/t (11.5 oz/t) gold from 301 meters.
The newest batch of drill results from Brucejack also includes similar high-grade gold at Golden Marmot, an exploration target about 3,500 meters north of Valley of the Kings, including:
• 20 meters averaging 187 g/t (6 oz/t) gold from 268 meters in hole SU-786, including 0.5 meters averaging 6,700 g/t (215 oz/t) gold from 270.5 meters.
• 38.5 meters averaging 27 g/t gold from a depth of 106.5 meters in hole SU-843, including 0.5 meters averaging 1,925 g/t (61.9 oz/t) gold from 138.3 meters.
"The excellent drilling results released today already support the potential for significant resource growth beyond the Valley of the Kings deposit, as well as expanding the footprint of high-grade mineralisation at Golden Marmot," said Biswas.
In addition to on-site optimizations at Brucejack, Newcrest is leveraging cost-saving synergies with its 70% owned Red Chris copper-gold mine about 85 miles (140 kilometers) to the north.
The company foresees that streamlining the supply, logistics, travel, and procurement activities between its two Northern BC mines will result in C$15 to $20 million (US$12 to $16 million) in savings each year.
Newcrest's 70% share of first quarter 2022 production from Red Chris – the third quarter of Newcrest's fiscal year, which begins on July 1 – came to 4,226 metric tons (9.3 million pounds) of copper and 8,463 oz of gold.
Newcrest forecasts its share of fiscal year 2022 copper from Red Chris will total 40,000 to 42,000 metric tons (88.2 to 92.6 million lb) and 23,000 to 25,000 oz of gold.
Brucejack is forecast to produce 95,000 to 115,000 oz of gold over the first three months and 22 days of Newcrest ownership at the end of the company's FY2022.