Canada’s Endeavour Mining to restart Boungou mine
Endeavour Mining, the Canadian mining company, has announced that mining operations have successfully restarted at its Boungou mine in Burkina Faso, following the mobilisation of the West African mining contractor and completion of infrastructure and operating improvements.
In a statement, Endeavour adds that it has confirmed potential annual synergies of £27 million to £30 million during its SEMAFO integration process, following its acquisition of the latter in July this year. The identified synergies are in the areas of procurement and supply chain optimisation, corporate and in-country G&A savings, centralisation of technical services and functions across the group, the statement says.
It is estimated that 60 percent of these synergies will be progressively unlocked by year end 2020 and the remaining next year.
Sébastien de Montessus, President and CEO of Endeavour, states: “We are pleased to have restarted mining operations at Boungou which marks a significant milestone in the integration process. The newly acquired assets are now well embedded into our West African operating model which is centred on an agile and streamlined management approach, based on empowered decision making at the mine level with shared regional support functions.
“In addition to the significant procurement, supply chain, and G&A savings, we are also seeing the benefits of softer synergies that arise from being the largest gold producer in Burkina Faso, such as a further strengthening of our partnership with the government and an enhanced ability to manage risks across the business.”
Endeavour adds that the Boungou plant has been processing stockpiles since early 2020. Following the acquisition on July 1, a range of infrastructure improvements have been implemented, along with new security and operating procedures for the mining restart program.
In early September, Endeavour awarded the mining contract for the Bougou mine to SFTP Mining, a West African mining contractor, who also provides mining services to its Karma mine. SFTP immediately began to mobilise mining equipment and personnel, and in order to accelerate the restart, purchased a portion of the on-site fleet from the previous contractor.
The mobilisation of the remaining equipment is expected to be complete within the coming weeks. Local recruitment for the operation of the mine has been prioritised, with training currently in progress, the statement adds. Approximately 1,100 people, including subcontractors, will be employed by the mine.
Mining activities to date have focused on extracting readily available ore with minimal drilling and blasting requirements. Grade control drilling began two weeks ago, with two rigs currently active, while blasting activities commenced last week. During Q4-2020, mining activities are expected to focus on the West pits, while preparing the East pit for grade control drilling in 2021. Mining, drilling, and blasting activities are expected to continue to ramp up in the coming weeks to reach the contracted amount of approximately 2–2.3 million tonnes per month.
The Boungou mine is now expected to achieve the top half of its 2020 production guidance of 130-150koz at an AISC of $680-725/oz due to the addition of high-grade mill feed from freshly mined ore. Exploration activities are expected to resume in Q4-2020, targeting near-mill targets, Endeavour adds.
As part of the restart plan, Endeavour, in close partnership with the Burkinabe government, has implemented a comprehensive security plan which is consistent with its approach at its other operations and takes into account the unique conditions in eastern Burkina Faso. The Burkinabe government has also created a dedicated unit assigned to work with Endeavour to ensure the overall security of the mine and the region.
Security improvements at Boungou conducted by Endeavour include upgraded site infrastructure, detailed site security plans, and an improved approach to the movement of employees, supplies and material. Endeavour also completed the construction of an airstrip to fly staff from Ouagadougou and Fada to site.
On-site employee housing has also been expanded to accommodate all local and expatriate employees within the site security perimeter during their rotation. Endeavour has contracted a local company to improve the maintenance of the roads, particularly during the rainy season.
Endeavour has also launched a study to improve the road infrastructure and traffic conditions on two key roads, RN19 and RR28, in consultation with the relevant authorities, potential partners and international donors. These improvements will also help foster economic development in the region, the statement concludes.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.