OASIS – Despite the gold price hovering just above $1,000, Newmont Mining Corp. is moving full speed ahead on construction of its newest mine: Long Canyon.
Newmont acquired the gold deposit from Fronteer Gold Inc. on April 6, 2011. Four years later, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the record of decision for the mine on April 7.
“Once that was given to Newmont, we were then approved for full funding,” Gordon Mountford, project director for Long Canyon, said. “The project funding is $293 million.”
The mine site is about 30 miles east of Wells on the eastern side of the Pequop Mountain Range in Elko County and about five miles south of Interstate 80 at the Oasis exit. Long Canyon’s ground breaking was April 17.
The company began moving dirt to allow construction of the infrastructure and facilities, such as the temporary buildings placed at the site, and development of the pit began in May. The site will have a truck shop and wash bay, administration facility, geology building, heap leach and ponds, and a CIC — or carbon in columns — plant.
“Right now we’re doing the rough grading for the base (of the heap leach),” Mountford said July 30. “The excavation for the ponds will be complete this week, and then we’ll be looking at placing clay liner and starting to line the ponds with the plastic.”
“In January of 2016, Newmont will actually start up with the first fleet of trucks and shovel to begin actual mining,” he said.
He said crews will start mining about the same time the heap leach facility is ready, but material won’t be placed on the leach pad until about eight months after the facility ready.
To develop the pit at Long Canyon, the trees and other vegetation were removed and the top soil was removed. After that, the construction crews have to build the haul roads and establish the mining benches.
NA Degerstrom is handling the pit development, Mountford said.
Construction on the heap leach pad should be completed by February or March. Ore should be placed on the heap leach in August 2016, and the CIC plant also should be done that month.
Mountford said all the jobs for Long Canyon were posted to help Newmont plan for when the mine was in full production.
“We do want to try and pull employees from Wells and Wendover,” he said. “But we’re also looking at resourcing people internally who’ve already, you know, got the training and have already got the Newmont safety culture to start the mine up and also to help the training to new employees as we bring them on.
“That’s probably one of the most critical things is having some Newmont people. We’ve been on our safety journey for over five years, and we want to make sure that’s instilled immediately with new employees being hired, and it gives us the opportunity to do the proper training.”
Long Canyon has about 200 people working on the site and those construction contractors will peak at 325. Newmont personnel – project and exploration — total about 25 people. When the mine is at full production there will be about 270 employees.
Rocky Pray, project manager for Long Canyon, oversees the construction and the engineering being done by Big D, based out of Salt Lake City. Big D is Newmont’s general contractor that is handling construction of the infrastructure and facilities, and looking after the subcontractors.
“They’re basically looking after everything you see here on the valley floor,” Mountford said.
Construction at Long Canyon deals with a few challenges, including archeological issues. When a possible historical site is found on the property, an archeological team and tribal monitors handle the site. The archeologists work under the direction of the BLM and the tribal monitors are there to observe, Mountford said.
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