New Afton Mine set to begin production
All the mining talk in Kamloops in recent months has been about Ajax — the controversial gold-copper development proposed for south of Aberdeen — but there’s another local large-scale mining effort that’s about to go into production.
The New Afton Mine — eight kilometres west of Kamloops on Highway 1 — is weeks away from production.
“Basically, we’re looking at June for the start-up of our milling, and full production to follow,” said Steve Kulinski, chief geologist of the project.
When in full production, New Afton — operated by NewGold — is expected to mine 11,000 tons daily — with anticipated yearly production of 85,000 ounces of gold and 75 million pounds of copper.
By comparison, Ajax, if it goes ahead, is expected to produce 50,000 tons of copper and 100,000 ounces of gold annually.
The New Afton project is a block-cave mine — meaning tunnels are bored underground, material is extracted and, eventually, the caves collapse and the material is hauled back to the surface for processing.
The site of the New Afton Mine has a mining history dating back to the 1800s.
Most recently, it was home to an open-pit mine operated by Teck.
That operation ceased in 1997, when it was determined the pit had reached the end of its profitability.
NewGold’s operation targets the same vein of ore, under the old pit and adjacent to it.
Kulinski said New Afton will reach full production by early 2013. The site already employs 850 people and that number will likely increase.
According to Kulinski, geologists will also look at the potential for future exploration on the New Afton site.
“We want to see if we have purpose to mine further,” he said.
“We’re definitely interested in exploring that.”