A Galantas Gold Corporation wholly-owned subsidiary owns the freehold title to over 220 acres of land upon which the initial open-pit mine, processing plant, tailings facility and water clarification ponds are situated. The mine is now in the development stage with more than 2,000 metres of ore and waste development completed. The mine is planned to commence the production stage in early 2022, when the first stopes will be open on the Kearney vein.
The future of the Cavanacaw property lies in the development of an underground mine. An active program of drilling has partly assessed the gold and silver resource at depth. Detailed costing studies have been carried out to estimate the cost of underground development and these studies have been released within the 2014 Resource Assessment. The report has been released and estimates a high internal rate of return. (Report available to download below). The drilling program is expected to continue from cash-flow generated from underground mine production. A budget of £1million per year is budgeted within the 2014 study. Past drilling has achieved a cost of approximately GBP£10 per ounce in identified gold resource.
Plans to develop an underground mine have been approved and the mine is in development. Plans include a decline to the base of the Kearney zone for Phase 1 mining and a separate access to provide emergency egress and ventilation. A third access is planned to provide emergency egress and ventilation to a linked development between the Kearney and Joshua vein systems. The principal mining method will be longhole open-stoping and long-term stability will be achieved by backfilling with cemented rockfill. The mine may potentially progress to deeper levels within the Kearney zone than planned for Phase 1 but this will be subject to the identification of resources through drilling.
Environmental protection is an important operating criteria for the mine. Development, health, safety and environment impact are continually controlled to comply with strict regulations. This ensures that the impact on the environment is minimized, monitored and held below fixed parameters. There is routine monitoring of water, dust, and noise.
Galantas is committed to using environmental best practice, with all operating methods selected for maximum cost effectiveness and minimum environmental risk. Underground development is concentrated on the Kearney Vein which hosts the ore, containing gold and silver, for further treatment. Mining is carried out by developing ore drives along the strike of the sub-vertical vein and then using longhole open stoping with cemented rockfill backfill to extract the ore between the ore drives, which are 8 metres apart vertically.
The ore is transported to the processing plant, where it is crushed and milled to a fine powder, approximately 50% of which is less than 75µ. The milled material is pumped to the froth flotation circuit where, following the addition of specific reagents, the sulphide minerals are recovered in the float material (concentrate) using rougher, scavenger and cleaner cells. The non-sulphide material remaining after flotation – the tailings – is pumped to settling ponds, from which the supernatant water is returned to either the mine or the process plant for re-use. The concentrate is filtered through a plate filter press and the filter cake is contained in flexible intermediate bulk containers for shipment to the customer.
Samples are taken at regular intervals to ensure the efficacy of the process and these are analyzed in the in-house laboratory. The results are backed up by regular checks using independent laboratories.
Management have identified potential uses for the clean tailings sand. These uses include the protection of pipes and conduit being laid in trenches during construction, a filler for bitumen based products, admixture for plaster based products or for the manufacture of soils in combination with other materials on site. Nearly half of future tailings sands production are expected to be used as permanent backfill during underground operations.
Mining of clean, barren country-rock creates an increase in volume of that material by virtue of the pore spaces created. The amount of increase of volume varies between 30% and 40%. The company is obliged to backfill the open pit, restore the site and dispose of the surplus rock from the site under restoration arrangements.
The major mobile plant operated at the open pit comprises of a bull-dozers, hydraulic excavators, articulated, dump trucks and subsidiary plant.
Planning permits have been received for mining underground, where the majority of resources lie. Galantas is actively engaged in mine development. It has a trained crew and equipment to carry out the necessary tasks. Additional labour and equipment will be added as the mine expands. Some limited ore is produced in development of the gold veins and this feeds the processing plant on a part-time basis. The first concentrate derived from underground sources has been shipped.
Environmental Impact Assestment
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), based upon new data and data from 14 years of environmental monitoring, is complete and was examined as part of the planning process for underground mining. The EIA considers the processes involved, impact on water, air and noise amongst other environmental factors and is available on the Northern Ireland Planning Portal.
The figures below represent an early-stage iteration of plans and are presented to give a generalized picture of the underground development.
Detailed drawings are available via the Planning Service, DOENI Planning Portal (a third-party website). Registration is required.