Mt. Milligan Mine, British Columbia, Canada

Milligan mine equipment

The Mount Milligan mine is a copper-gold project in central British Columbia, Canada. The mine is located about 150km northwest of Prince George.

It is owned and operated by the North American miner Thompson Creek Metals Company.

Mt Milligan was owned by Placer Dome in the 1990s. The company intended to develop the mine in 1993.

The development was, however, stalled due to low metal prices and the mining permits expired in 2003.

The property was acquired by Terrane Metals Corporation, a subsidiary of Thompson Creek Metals Company, in 2006.

"It is owned and operated by the North American miner Thompson Creek Metals Company."

A feasibility study and mining permits were completed and acquired by 2009. An Environmental Assessment (EA) certificate for the mining project was received in March 2009. British Columbia awarded the Mines Act Permit in September of that year.

Construction work on the copper-gold mine started in June 2010 and the phased start-up of the concentrator commenced in August 2013. Production from the mine commenced in September 2013.

The project is expected to generate 1,000 jobs during construction and about 350 full-time positions during operations. The total estimated cost for developing the mine is about C$1.6bn.

The property is accessible by road from Mackenzie and Fort St. James. It is served by a 92km power line.

Mt. Milligan mine details

The copper-gold mine is a conventional open-pit mine with a capacity of 110,000t per day. It is expected to produce 194,500oz of gold and 81 million lbs of copper a year. It is expected to have a mine life of 22 years.

The project will help train and employ local people for various positions to boost regional employment. Thompson Creek Metals will provide the training courses in collaboration with the College of New Caledonia.

The mine site has an ore processing plant with a capacity to handle around 60,000t/day of throughput. The produced copper concentrate will be exported for further processing.

Geology, mineralisation and reserves

The mining property lies within the Quesnel Terrane volcanic arc of the Intermontane Belt. The geology is made of oceanic plates formed in the Early Jurassic Period and low metamorphic grade magmatic arc segments. The mine is an alkalic porphyry deposit of copper and gold.

The deposit is tabular and measures approximately 1,500m east-west, 2,500m north-south and 400m in thickness.

The mine consists of Southern Star (SS) Zone with monzonite stock, and Main Zone comprising Rainbow Dyke and MBX monzonite stocks. The mineralisation is of chalcopyrite, magnetite and pyrite oxides. Bornite is localised along intrusive-volcanic contacts.

The proven and probable reserves at the Mt. Milligan mine are estimated at 531.8 million tonnes graded at 0.011oz per tonne and 0.2% copper per tonne.

Ore processing at the British Columbian mine

The Mt. Mulligan mine produces ore of low grade copper-gold. The semi-autonomous grinding (SAG) mill is the largest in North America. It has a capacity to grind approximately 2,717t per hour at 92% availability. The 12m SAG mill is powered by a 23.5MW gearless motor drive.

The IsaMill machine, the largest in Canada, is used for fine grinding the ore. It is one of the most energy efficient grinding machines on the market. The majority of operations use hydro-electric generated power from the grid.

The open-pit mine development operations have a smaller footprint of about 4km x 3km. Water used for the entire mining activity is not discharged into local water bodies.

Contractors for the Canadian copper-gold project

The engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract for the copper-gold project was awarded to the British Columbia Mining Joint Venture (BCMJV), in August 2011. BCMJV is a 50:50 joint venture between AMEC Americas and Fluor Canada.

"The copper-gold mine is a conventional open-pit mine with a capacity of 110,000t per day."

The scope of work included construction of the copper flotation process plant, storage facility for tailings, 92km of electrical cabling, a housing camp for 600 workers and ancillary plant facilities.

ABB was contracted to provide power technology equipment for the project. The company supplied the gearless mill drive for the SAG mill, as well as two dual pinion mill drives for ball mills.

ABB also provided transformers, motors, electrics and synchronisers under a C$28m contract awarded in May 2009.

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