Work progressing at New Gold mine site

Heather Latter

There is plenty of work going on at New Gold’s Rainy River Project north of Barwick—in all different areas of the development.
“We’ve been working on the east access road, getting the ditches done and the accesses to some of the private lands finished up,” general manager Grant Goddard noted last week.
He added they recently completed and opened the newly-relocated Highway 600.
“We’re putting the final topping on that but it’s be open and used by the community,” Goddard said, adding the power lines that hook into Hydro One’s line also have been installed.
“The hook-in and all of the other pieces still have to be completed in the next few months, but the power lines are in.”
Goddard said the south side (the grinding side) of the process plant has the siding complete while the north side (the recovery area) has the steel work done and the siding almost complete.
“Tanks are going in for the pre-leach thickener,” he explained.
“It’s basically where we reduce the amount of water in the solution, the ground material and the water, make it a bit thicker and then feed it into our system.”
Inside the plant, crews have been pouring the floors and working on the lighting, heating, and ventilation systems.
Meanwhile, many of New Gold’s staff members soon will move into the new office administration complex on-site.
“There are people scattered all over the site, plus some people from the Emo office, and we’ll be bringing them together as one team,” Goddard remarked.
“It will be great,” he added, noting the new mine dry (located next to the office administration building) also is ready to go.
The mine dry facility houses change rooms so workers will be able to ride the coaches out to the site wearing their regular clothes and then change into their work gear when they arrive.
Goddard noted construction on the crusher, and all of the systems that take the ore once its crushed, are coming along, as well.
“We continue a huge amount of work on the earthworks side and water management,” he said. “We’ve been hydroseeding, getting grass and vegetation to start growing on the areas that we’ve excavated.
“And we finished all the work on the fish habitat.”
Goddard also said the mine development work has increased.
“Since we’ve gone from 20 people working in mine maintenance and operations to about 130, mine development has been phenomenal in terms of how much is opened up,” he remarked.
“We’re still focused on material from the mine to be used for road construction and to supply to the construction team so they can use it,” he said.
“So we’re not mining any ore,” Goddard stressed, adding any ore they discover right now is being left or stockpiled.
“But we continue to understand what the ore body looks like as you open it up and what the ground looks like, so that’s always useful,” he noted, saying he’s particularly impressed with the crew of local workers.
“A lot of people have never worked in a mine, some have never run any kind of equipment like this,” he said.
“It’s neat to hire local. It’s the right thing to do.
“It’s a phenomenal success for everyone—the communities, for ourselves,” Goddard stressed. “With it brings the need to recognize that we really have to do a lot more training than sites that would hire experienced people from away.
“And we’ve been doing that.”
Goddard said they’ve achieved more than two-million person hours without a lost-time incident.
“The performance in the mine, in terms of material movement, environment performance, safety performance, it’s just awesome,” he enthused.
On the maintenance side, Goddard said they continue to assemble and commission a few pieces of equipment.
“We’re adding water trucks for the summer to spray the roads,” he noted, adding they now have two production drills, with one already running and the other set to go this week.
Goddard said they now have 225 people working in operations, with 75 percent local and 32 percent aboriginal, along with hundreds of contractors.
“We’ve been planning and working on all the details for ‘Wave 2’ and ‘Wave 3’ hiring,” he explained, noting Wave 2 is surface miners and maintenance, just like Wave 1 was.
Wave 3, on the other hand, is the process plant operations and maintenance.
“So we’re working on how we’re going to be doing that,” Goddard indicated, admitting how and when they will start recruiting are the big questions.
“We asked for community feedback, as well as input from some of the services providers, so we can do things better,” he remarked.
“How can we make it more effective for people to make them more successful?”
Goddard noted it might not sound logical but the hiring for Wave 3 actually will be done before Wave 2.
“In October, November, December, we’ll be hiring people to start,” he said. “So the recruiting has to start soon.
“And then the surface miner and maintenance, Wave 2, won’t come in until next year.
“We want to get some people ahead of time for the plant [so] to train people and get them familiar with how we are going to run the plant and get our operating procedures developed,” he reasoned.
Goddard said it will be very similar to their hiring process for Wave 1 back in the fall, where they hired the first 20 people who helped develop plans and became trainers for the recruits who started in the new year.
The processing plant is set to be commissioned at this time next year.
“Before that, there will be other things we are taking over from construction and commissioned, like the crusher and the power system,” he noted.
“So we’ll need that team from the process side.”
In total, New Gold will be hiring about 50 surface miners and about 30 maintenance, while maintenance and operations for the process plant requires about 80 employees.
But he said they will be hired slowly, with a handful coming on each month probably until next July or August.
“When we go into commercial production next year, we’ll be over 400 people,” Goddard noted.