Some of the ore that New Gold has pulled out of the New Afton Mine was ground up for a smiling crowd this week, marking the start of the commissioning of the operation’s mill.
President Bob Gallagher said Friday there were some small celebrations for the occasion. A grand opening will be held in September, when the mill is up to its commercial production (60 per cent). It’s due to be at 100 per cent production by year end.
“We’re all pretty excited about it,” he said.
“We put the first ore through the mill yesterday. It looked great. I have never seen so many smiling faces.”
The mine employs 450 people and another 500 contractors are still working at the site. The latter should be gone by the end of this year as construction work ends and full production takes over.
“This is the first step in commissioning. It’ll take us a number of months to get fully commissioned.”
Gallagher said construction on the mine began in 2007. The last two years involved finishing the mill.
“We’re not quite finished yet, but by the time we are, we’ll have spent $750 million. It’ll take three years at today’s prices to repay our investment.”
About a million tonnes of ore have been brought up to the surface at the mine. It looks like gravel and small rocks.
It will be ground to a fine sand that gets mixed with water, to which chemicals are added and it goes into flotation tanks.
There, the copper and gold float to the surface, attached to bubbles. That gets washed down and the concentrate is shipped to Vancouver, where it is sent over to smelters in India or the Philippines.