Toronto-based Gratomic began wet commissioning at its Aukam graphite processing plant in Namibia. Courtesy of Gratomic

Welcome back to your weekly mining news recap, where we catch you up on some of the news you may have missed. This week’s headlines include Hudbay Minerals and union workers striking a deal, the first day of the Enbridge pipeline, and innovating tailings using sunlight.

All 39 miners are safe and an investigation has begun after an incident left workers stuck in Vale’s Totten mine on Sunday night. The workers were 4,130 feet below surface level and had to exit the mine via a secondary egress ladder system. They got out with the assistance of Totten’s mine rescue team, which was supported by Ontario Mine Rescue. A joint investigation conducted by Vale, the miners and government authorities will review both the initial incident and the rescue process. Currently, the mine is out of service until the investigation is completed. A few weeks ago, the general manager of Ontario Mine Rescue, Ted Hanley, explained how the organization prepares for these kinds of situations.

Gold producers Agnico Eagle Mines and Kirkland Lake Gold are merging in a stock deal worth over $13 billion. Upon closing, the company is expected to have $2.3 billion of available liquidity, a mineral reserve base of 969 million tonnes of gold grading at 1.53 grams per tonne. This merger will lead to the new company, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, taking a dominant position in one of the world’s leading gold regions, the Abitibi-Greenstone Belt of northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec.

After years of fierce opposition from environmentalists and Indigenous groups, the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline system, which transports crude oil blends including diluted bitumen (dilbit) from Canada to the United States, will enter service on Oct. 1, as reported by BNN Bloomberg. The pipeline is expected to be fully operational by mid-October and will be able to carry 760,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Alberta to Wisconsin. The company will face legal challenges as opposition from protestors and environmentalists continues.

Hudbay Minerals and the members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7106 and USW Local 9338 have struck a deal, as reported by Hudbay has now completed the bargaining process with all six of its affiliated unions in Manitoba. The impact of the pending closure of Hudbay’s Flin Flon operations, a zinc and oxygen plant with 785 workers, was not mentioned in the agreement announcement.

Improving the oil sands industry’s environmental impact could be as simple as adding sunlight, according to H2nanO, a small clean-tech company in southwestern Ontario that is working to remove naphthenic acids from tailings ponds. A pilot of the process, called SolarPass, is being conducted in collaboration with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).

B.C.’s smaller mines have shown steady growth while larger mines have seen a three-year revenue erosion, as reported by BIV. Reports found that the average revenue for the largest mines in B.C. hit a high point in 2018 at $704.1 million but fell 26.2 per cent to $519.5 million in 2020. Smaller mines did not show the same revenue swings, but more consistent growth over the past two years.

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) issued a whitepaper outlining new guidelines for autonomous mining, as reported by International Mining. The industry organization identified the need for a “system safety approach” to identifying, analyzing, eliminating, and controlling hazards for mining companies deploying and using autonomous systems. This can be done by incorporating analysis, design and management procedures throughout a system’s life cycle.

Gratomic has begun wet commissioning at its Aukum graphite processing plant in Namibia. Wet commissioning entails verifying the systems are functioning, the technicians can operate the machinery properly, the as-built documentation was completed, and the drafts of operation and maintenance documents were confirmed. Toronto-based Gratomic rediscovered the vein graphite deposit and is currently working towards completing a preliminary feasibility study (PFS) on the processing plant.

IAMGOLD said it will achieve a “net negative greenhouse gas” emissions profile by 2050. The company expects to tackle both Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions related to energy acquisition) and will look at making its heavy- and light-vehicle fleets and power generation and supplies more environmentally friendly. It also pledges to create more habitat than it disturbs.  

Tarachi Gold is one of the mining and metal processing companies generating income from waste by reprocessing old tailings. Tailings reprocessing projects are becoming more popular because new techniques and technologies permit easier and cheaper metal recovery while rehabilitating older tailings facilities. With its Magistral del Oro mill in Mexico, Tarachi is planning to reprocess 1,000 tonnes of gold tailings per day using a recovery system to remove gold from a cyanide solution.

That’s all for this week! If you’ve got feedback, you can always reach us at If you’ve got something to add, why not join the conversation on our FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or Instagram pages?