It was all about Rambler at the Silver anniversary of the Baie Verte Mining Conference last weekend.
Patrons of the conference kicked off the two-day event with a tour of the Rambler Property and operations, and got a taste of how much the company has grown over the past year or more.
On Saturday, Tim Sanford, General Manger of the Mine near Ming’s Bight, kicked off the day of keynote speakers with a status update on where the mine sees itself today, and in the future. Speaking afterwards, he echoed what was said in his presentation, and shed some light on the company’s plans for the next couple of years.
Currently, the company has a plan for six years of operation. Those years are virtually set in stone, said Sanford, but they are working on extending life of the mine even greater beyond that, to potentially 20 years.
Sanford said the company is progressing well with its current deposits, but over the next months and years, you’ll see them shift their focus slightly to the Lower Footwall zone of their operation.
“We’ve done a preliminary study on the lower footwall zone, and that’s our next target for expansion with the operation,” he stated.
The large area with some 18-million tons of resources, could mean the long-term sustainability of the mine on the Baie Verte Peninsula.
Sanford says they’ve seen some reasonable economics, but the next thing they have to do with that study is optimize it so that the returns are where they want them to be.
“When we do that, then we’ll be set to go into a pre-feasibility and a feasibility study.”
The company feels within 18 months or so, they should be ready to do a full-fledged feasibility on that zone. After the feasibility study, which will probably take a year, then, he said, they’d be ready to start construction and expansion.
“That would be a large increase in workforce and a large increase in capital expenditure upfront to build that,” Sanford said. Plans right now are to build a Processing Mill on the property near Ming’s Bight, rather than truck the ore to Nugget Pond, which is what they’re currently doing.
“It becomes a trade off between going to Nugget pond or building something new on the site,” explained Sanford. “The reason we’re thinking about building something new on the site is that it would give us some synergy as far as what we do with the tailings that come out of the plant. We can actually send them back underground and us them as back-fill if the plant is at the mine site. If it’s down at Nugget Pond, then that takes that out of the equation. You don’t want to be trucking material down to Nugget Pond and then back again.”
Streamlining operations also brings into question the company’s current situation of trucking their concentrate some 140-plus kilometers to the port in Goodyear’s Cove, near South Brook. However, due to the limited number of trips, Sanford says that doesn’t play as big an economical factor in things.
“The thing about trucking concentrate is that there isn’t as much as there is ore, so the trucking cost isn’t a big factor. Even if we brought the port back to Baie Verte, there may not be much benefit economically to do that. It’s not a big cost for us to truck concentrate.”
While the possibilities are exciting, this expansion and growth, however, is reliant on a number of factors. The Lower Footwall zone in question is only about a percent and a half copper – as opposed to the massive sulfides the company are currently mining, which can run up to five or six percent copper.
However, Sanford says they’re confident that the markets will be in their favor.
“We think the copper prices are going to hold for us, as that’s obviously a key, so we’re bullish on the copper price, and we feel there’s enough meat on the bone in that lower footwall zone to be able to make that a go.”
Where the future of Rambler lays still remains to be seen. However, if predictions are accurate, it will mean excellent things for the region over the next couple of decades.