Long Canyon mine is put up for sale | Mining

The Long Canyon mine midway between Wells and Wendover slowed down last year in preparation for the temporary shutdown of mining while allowing proceeds from phase 2 open pit mining. While evaluating their mine portfolio, the Nevada Gold Mines team recently made the decision to look into the possibility of finding a buyer for Long Canyon.

“Although once licensed, Long Canyon will continue to be a low-cost producer with a long life, Nevada Gold Mines questions whether, given its size and location, the operation meets its criteria. of investment or whether it might better fit a smaller operator that can give it the direction it needs to continue producing and adding value for all stakeholders,” NGM said in a statement. .

“During our annual review process late last year, the question of Long Canyon’s fit with NGM’s top-tier focus was raised and whether the team should test the market and see what interest there was in Long Canyon from the many small businesses that have recently acquired assets in Nevada.

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“We have all the data and information put together in a way that can be viewed by potential buyers,” said Anita Percy, growth and planning manager for Nevada Gold Mines.

“We will only proceed with a transaction if it makes sense for the business with favorable terms for our shareholders,” NGM said. “Long Canyon has been a valuable and inexpensive operation and there remains considerable opportunity for this asset to continue into the future.”

Mining began six years ago at Long Canyon, and NGM executive general manager Greg Walker said it was a good small open pit operation with high grades. It’s just run-of-the-river heap leaching, with no crusher to crush the ore. Long Canyon produced up to about 200,000 ounces of gold per year, and more recently, as operations have slowed, it has produced about 150,000 ounces per year.

Newmont’s original plan was to have a Phase 1 open pit and then move to a Phase 2 underground mine. As NGM re-evaluated the mine, they decided to have a Phase 2 open pit , a reduction with longer and deeper extensions. NGM is working on the permits for this phase 2 open pit. There is still potential for a Phase 3 underground mine where the ore body goes deeper into the ground.

Long Canyon employed up to about 250 people.

“Over the past six months, we’ve slowly reduced those numbers,” Walker said. “People moved to our other operations as needed. At present, there are approximately 90 people remaining, and most of these people have been offered roles within NGM in different operations.

There are plenty of openings at NGM’s other mines for people who have left Long Canyon, Walker said. NGM mines have positions for a total of around 7,000 people, and the company has been around 10% of that goal as it continues to seek more people to work in the mines.

“We currently have over 700 vacancies,” Walker said.

As Long Canyon collapsed, about 15 to 20 people who worked at the mine decided to leave Nevada Gold Mines, Walker said. Some of these people live in Wendover and did not want to make the long drive to Nevada Gold Mines operations west of Carlin.

“If we sell the Long Canyon operation and a new buyer comes in and wants to keep one of these people, they have the option of staying with the buyer. But they’ve had opportunities and have had offers for stay with NGM,” Walker said.

Mining operations at Long Canyon are expected to end around April. Residual leach pad production will continue through at least 2025, but gold production numbers will drop into the tens of thousands of ounces by next year, Walker said.

“Even if we keep the asset, we would continue to wind down for a period of about 18 months while we get the permits, and then we’ll go back up and operate again,” Walker said. “So any buyer that comes in would do the same. They would go through the permitting process and then they would start mining once they got the permit for the Phase 2 expansion.”

Long Canyon was one of five Newmont mines, along with Carlin, Phoenix, Twin Creeks and Lone Tree, that became part of Nevada Gold Mines when the new company started as a joint venture between Barrick and Newmont on July 1, 2019 Newmont is the 38.5% owner of NGM, and Barrick is the 61.5% owner and operator.

The Long Canyon site is unique in that it was the first significant gold discovery in an unexplored area of ​​northern Nevada for a few years, and it is a new mine in an area where it hadn’t been mine before.

Fronteer Gold Inc. explored the Long Canyon site in the late 2000s. Fronteer owned and operated 51% of Long Canyon, and in August 2010 Fronteer entered into a C$281 million deal with AuEx Ventures to become 100% owner of the Long Canyon project.

Newmont acquired the Long Canyon project in February 2011 in a $2.33 billion deal with Fronteer.

“Newmont is able to recognize the characteristics of a large, long-lived deposit,” Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara said at the time.

Newmont later described Long Canyon as “the most significant Carlin-type gold oxide discovery in Nevada in over a decade”.

Mining officially began at Long Canyon on January 4, 2016. Commercial gold production began with the first gold pour in November of that year.

In the spring of 2020, NGM submitted an application to the Nevada Division of Water Resources to expand its Phase 2 mining operations below the water table.

A coalition of conservation groups and the Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Reservation filed protests against NGM’s water demand. They said the drying up would have negative impacts on Johnson Springs wetlands and groundwater and on wildlife in the area, including a rare small spring snail and a minnow-like fish called a relict dace that doesn’t lives only in Johnson Springs.

In August 2020, NGM announced its decision to suspend the Bureau of Land Management’s review of the Long Canyon expansion project.

“The formation of the NGM joint venture between Barrick and Newmont Corporation in July 2019 has created an opportunity to challenge assumptions and apply new perspectives to projects, including assessment against the environmental and sustainability values ​​of the project. ‘company,” NGM said in a statement at the time. “This analysis resulted in the decision to delay the permitting process to reassess aspects of the project and engage in additional studies and designs to reduce the expected impacts. This work will focus on water management and mitigation of potential impacts to the aquifer and nearby Johnson Springs wetland complex.

“By doing this, society recognizes that something more needs to be done to try to protect the environment there and that’s important,” said Great Basin Resource Watch executive director John Hadder.

“The original plan Newmont had for this asset was to do a general dewatering of the area,” Walker said in a recent interview.

He said the NGM team and its hydrogeologists had done further studies of the area and decided to look for ways to do localized dewatering, which would reduce the costs of dewatering and rehabilitation, and would also shorten the rehabilitation period.

“We thought there was a different way to do it, and a better way to do it,” Walker said. “And we were right. Our plan has improved, so our dewatering is more localized and our rehabilitation plan is shorter and more focused.

If Long Canyon is sold, NGM will pass on all the information they have gathered from the site and their dewatering plans.

The Long Canyon mine is surrounded by the Big Springs Ranch, which is owned by NGM. The Big Springs Ranch is leased to a rancher.

Whether or not the Big Springs Ranch sells with the mine is a discussion that will take place with potential buyers.

“Having one owner for the ranch and the mine, in my opinion, is the best option,” Walker said.

Walker said NGM will screen all potential buyers to ensure they have the right safety, environmental, social and governance values.

“ESG-wise, we will ensure that any potential buyer aligns with our same values,” Walker said. “What we don’t want to do is sell an asset and then let someone do the wrong thing and then we’ll be tarnished with that same brush. So once we have established a short list of people that we agree to be potential buyers, we will give them access to data and information about the mine.

The presence of the Long Canyon mine in eastern Elko County has led NGM to become involved in communities in this region, such as Wells and Wendover. Once Long Canyon sells, NGM will be less involved in those communities, but Walker said they will ensure that the company that buys Long Canyon commits to community involvement. NGM will also recommend that the new company continue with the contracts and agreements the mine currently has in place.

While operating the Long Canyon mine, NGM developed a relationship with the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Walker said, and that relationship will continue, along with any relationships NGM has with the Native American tribes of the region. The Goshute Reservation will continue to participate in programs such as the Western Shoshone Scholarship Foundation, while having the added opportunity to participate in all programs offered by the new owner of the Long Canyon mine.

About William J. Harris

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