Production resumes for New Jersey Mining Company at the Golden Chest mine
Open pit operat...
Open pit operations had commenced in August, with the mill restarting in late September, and the company has indicated that both mining and milling plans are proceeding ahead as expected.
New Jersey Mining Company anticipates underground mining to resume by December this year, forecasting operations of 8,000 to 10,000 ounces of gold in 2017.
What we know about the Golden Chest mine and New Jersey Mill
The Golden Chest Mine
NJMC has 100 percent ownership of the flagship Golden Chest Mine, located in North Idaho. During the late 1890s and 1900s, the Golden Chest was indeed the largest historic lode producer of gold in the Coeur d’Alene mining district (the largest city and county seat of Kootenai County, Idaho)
Exploration at Golden Chest, particularly in the modern era, began in the late 1970s with a number of companies targeting gold.
Companies such as Cominco-American and Newmont Exploration, for example.
NJMC first moved in on the scene and leased the property back in 2003 and have explored, drilled and conducted small-scale mining ever since.
In September 2013, the Skookum Shoot portion of the Golden Chest Mine was leased to Juniper Resources LLC which developed a state-of-the-art gold mine and began producing ore in late-2014.
Last year, Juniper ceased operations and terminated its lease, forfeiting the remaining mineralized material and mine infrastructure.
Not to leave the mine hanging, NJMC ensured that the mine was left in a position where all potential future production possibilities had been considered. This saw the company, in early 2016, pull together a mine plan to look at unmined ore from Juniper’s original mine plan – namely, through underground mining.
This new mine plan has a 3,000 tonne per month production target with all material to be processed at the New Jersey Mill. After an anticipated six-month rolling start, the company fully expects gold production of approximately 15,000 to 20,000 ounces over the next two years.
The New Jersey Mill
The New Jersey Mill is a 360 tonne per day flotation mill and concentrate leach plant, which is located in North Idaho’s Silver Valley.
Processed water is recycled at the mill as well as a patented disposal process, by none other than NJMC founder Fred Brackerbusch, to dispose of tailings with a minimal impact on the environment. Through this method, NMJC can guarantee that no process water is discharged whatsoever.
In actual fact, this process allows the company to save more than 50 milliong gallons of water per year. Bravo. This is such a significant achievement that the company was recognised as a Pollution Prevention Champion by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Double bravo.
NJMC processes ore from the nearby Golden Chest Mine, and through a joint venture with United Mine Services, the company has the right to process its own ore at the rate of 3,000 tonnes per month.
In actual fact, in 2015, the company processed a total of 40,840 dry metric tonnes of ore from the Golden Chest Mine with an average head grade of 6.70 grams per tonne (gpt) gold and with recovery averaging 92.3-percent. Concentrate grades averaged 435 gpt gold, although the last concentrates assayed in excess of 1,000 gpt gold. In total, the mill produced approximately 8,000 ounces of gold.
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.