Mining Quarterly editor
Staged to grow after the restart of the Pan Mine, Fiore Gold Ltd. reported operational landmarks in 2017 at its flagship project in Nevada.
“I really feel that with the executive management, this company is going to grow, and it’s going to grow in a really solid way,” said Andy Britton, Fiore Gold vice president and general manager. “There is going to be a lot of work coming our way.”
The Pan Mine southeast of Eureka restarted commercial production in March 2017 under Fiore Gold’s leadership after the company acquired the project in May 2016. Less than a year later, the company achieved steady production, mining about 14,000 tons a day from its two open pits in a run-of-mine operation. In its first year financial results announced in early 2018, the fledgling company reported revenue of $10.7 million from the sale of 8,452 gold ounces.
Fiore Gold CEO Tim Warman called 2017 a transformative year for the company and looked to the future for further fulfillment of goals.
With the Pan Mine in operation, Fiore Gold leaders hope to expand its resources and reserves, increase production and acquire additional single-asset projects. The company owns a project in Chile and the Gold Rock project, which neighbors the Pan Mine and is nearing completion of the federal permitting process. The possible purchase of two additional projects nearer to production could propel Fiore Gold into the next level of mine ownership and operation.
“We think Fiore is the logical home for those projects,” Warman said in a video, adding that the company set a precedent for success when it restarted the Pan Mine.
Canada-based Fiore Gold formed in 2017 when it merged with GRP Minerals Corp., the previous Pan Mine owner. The year before, GRP had acquired the mine from Midway Gold Corp., the bankrupt original owner.
“I had the opportunity to start not just a new property but a new company,” said Britton, who previously worked for GRP Minerals.
The low-grade oxide gold deposit posed problems for early owners, as clay in the host rock resisted leaching. Performance improved after operators determined that low-grade ore housed in hard rock from one pit could be blended with higher-grade ore found in clay from the second pit to maximize leaching.
“It keeps the leach pad working,” Britton said. “GRP found the recipe to blend the two.”
The Carlin-type deposit is dispersed throughout the strata on-site, with an average grade of 0.013 or 0.014 ounces of gold per ton. Higher grade ore is found in jasperoid.
Legend tells of a tall jasperoid formation that protruded from Pancake Summit and led to the discovery of the deposit. The Campbell Formation is named after geologist Lyle Campbell, who reportedly recognized the formation and its gold-bearing potential upon seeing it from Highway 50.
Sight alone is not enough to guestimate ore grade, Britton explained. On a mine tour in mid-July, he pointed to the multicolored strata revealed by laybacks in a pit.
“We find gold in all of it,” he said, crediting his crews for their expertise in keeping ore bodies separate through blasting.
They just “fluff it up,” said John Williams, who had 25 years of experience in blasting before becoming the Fiore Gold superintendent of health and safety.
Blasted ore then gets mucked out of the pits and sent to the leach pads where it is blended for maximum gold extraction using cyanide solution. Fiore Gold completed a second phase of its leach pads in early 2017, expanding the breadth of panels. Previously, phase one entailed fixing the original owner’s problems, Britton said.
The gold-impregnated cyanide solution proceeds to the company’s on-site processing plant through six carbon-in-column steps, an acid wash and electrowinning. On the property, Fiore Gold pours bars weighing about 750 to 1,200 troy ounces of gold about every week, Britton said.
Projected life of mine at the operation extends through 2021. Fiore Gold is “actively doing exploration, and that number could change,” Britton said.
The team is considering adding a crusher to enhance leaching, and the technology could extend mine life. Additionally, Fiore Gold continues to explore for more gold on-site, splitting its exploration budget between the Pan Mine and Gold Rock project.
“The outlook for the property is pretty good that [life of mine] will change,” Britton said.
Fiore Gold’s corporate strategy is to grow the company into a 150,000 ounce per year gold producer, and its Nevada projects are integral to that goal. The company plans to increase production at the Pan Mine from about 40,000 ounces in 2018 to about 50,000 ounces in 2019.
The site employs more than 100 people, including Fiore Gold employees and staff of mining contractor Ledcore Group. Operations are lean, Britton said, but average years of experience are high.
“One person can cover a lot of ground,” Britton said, adding that the company strives to provide training and education to the workforce for the betterment of Fiore Gold and the mining industry as a whole.
As of mid-July, the company had achieved 793 days worked in accordance with its safety goals. That’s zero lost-time injuries since the mine restarted in March 2017.
“Our culture at Fiore Gold will start here at this hub,” Britton said. “It’s a great opportunity you don’t get often as a manager.”