Asante Gold is considering the use of a new mining technique called Sustainable Mining by Drilling (SMD) at its Kubi Gold project in Ghana.

Anaconda Mining has developed the two-stage drilling technology in collaboration with the Memorial University of Newfoundland and is currently planning to commercialise it.

The SMD system enables the direct mining of narrow deposits, while reducing the cost of ore extraction by 50%, compared to conventional mining techniques.

Anaconda Mining said in a statement: “This concept is a complete surface mining option with a drilling rig as a main surface piece of equipment used in conjunction with several field proven down hole technologies.

“The mining process would be divided into two campaigns: drilling the pilot holes and accurately mapping the vein, then enlarging the pilot holes to predetermined sizes to recover the ore.”

Additionally, SMD is capable of accessing areas that are not open to conventional mining and reduces the environmental footprint of operations.

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The process also bypasses the crushing and grinding circuits by moving the +-2mm drill cuttings produced by mining direct to the mill in a slurry.

“The new SMD mining technique slashes the mining costs, development time and capital required to take near surface gold deposits to production.”

Asante Gold president and CEO Douglas MacQuarrie said: “The new SMD mining technique slashes the mining costs, development time and capital required to take near surface gold deposits to production.

“Our Kubi Main Zone gold resource is located in one of the best and safest gold mining destinations in the World, is road and power accessible, has an average width of 2m, is near vertical, and appears to be well suited for the application of this technique.”

Metallurgical tests that were earlier carried out on Kubi mineralisation resulted in gold recovery of 35% to 40%. Based on these tests, the company expects a similar recovery at Kubi directly from the SMD drill cuttings.