ELKO — Newmont Mining Corp. continues to move forward with its Long Canyon Project in the Pequop Mountains of Elko County.
“We are in the middle of doing an (environmental impact statement), we being Newmont and the BLM,” said Dan Anderson, regional environmental affairs manager for Newmont.
In March 2012, Newmont submitted a plan of operations to the Bureau of Land Management. This was about a year after Newmont acquired the land from Fronteer Gold. The mine site is about four miles south of the Oasis exit on Interstate 80.
From the beginning, Newmont has handled Long Canyon differently from other proposed mines. The baseline studies were done up front, and Newmont engaged with the BLM and other state and local agencies.
“When the plan was submitted they basically took this plan of operations and they thumbed through it and said ‘this was everything we expected, this was everything we wanted; this is what we asked of you,’ so the review period on that ... it went very quickly.”
“It’s smoother and it’s more efficient. It’s more efficient for us and it’s more efficient for the BLM,” he said. “We’re not reviewing and re-reviewing comments and playing the regulatory pingpong match.”
Anderson said the BLM came up with the new approach to the permitting process and Newmont embraced the concept.
During the environmental study, the BLM hosted public scoping meetings in Wells, West Wendover and Elko. During those meetings, an alternate design of the mine was born, Anderson said.
West Wendover was concerned about the tailings storage facility being on the flat ground near the Big Springs Ranch, because it is the small city’s drinking water. People from the city asked if the facility could be moved.
Even though the environmental controls are quite strict and wouldn’t allow contamination of the water, Newmont decided to take another look at the design.
“So we sent it off to our engineers in house and they came up with an alternate plan.” Anderson said. “ The whole thing moved north. Our tails facility was incorporated into our waste rock dump. This was a concept that hadn’t been done before either; it’s kind of cool because it minimizes the footprint.”
Moving the tailings also moves the mine operations farther from an inactive sage grouse lek. In the original plans the tailings were about a mile from the lek.
The design of the site also takes into account the natural topography of the land, Anderson said.
The plan of operations also calls for the waste rock facility to be constructed from the bottom up, so it has concurrent reclamation. It will be reclaimed as it goes up, Anderson said.
Since this is a greenfield project — no mining has been done in the area before — Newmont can build the site the way it wants without having to worry about previous structures.
“This is an opportunity to do things a little bit different,” he said.
Either design will work for Newmont, but ultimately, the BLM will decide which plan moves forward.
“We see the value in collaboration in designing what will work for all agencies,” said Matt Murray, senior external communications representative of Newmont.
The mine site plan also has a migration corridor because the Area 7 deer herd moves through the site. Murray said the herd moves through the area several times a year.
“A lot of research went into that to figure out where exactly (the deer) travel,” he said.
Anderson said the mine will be “more of a slice out of the mountain” rather than a large pit. The proposed mining area also will be above the water table, so the site will not have to deal with dewatering.
Changes in state taxes and gold prices should not affect the status of the Long Canyon project, Anderson said.
“This is part of our business plan, so this is high priority for Newmont North America and with corporate,” he said. “So this is a very important project for our portfolio.”
Once construction is complete, Newmont expects about 400 employees.
Anderson said Wells and West Wendover are both embracing the project. Newmont also is performing social and economic impact assessments.
Anderson expects a draft EIS will be out by the end of the year and hopes a final EIS will be published sometime next year.
“We will start construction the day after the record of decision,” Anderson said.
Newmont’s schedule calls for construction in 2015 and initial production in 2016, with full scale production by 2017, he said.
“Newmont has had the project for two years now. ... I wouldn’t say it’s fast. I would say it’s on course,” Anderson said.
He said the project has progressed faster than other mines because of the joint effort between Newmont and the BLM.
“We’re very appreciative of the work the BLM is doing,” he said. “They’re really motivated, as we are. There’s a really good team at the BLM working on this right now. ... It truly is a team, joint effort between us and the BLM. You probably don’t hear that very often from a mining company, but they’re truly a partner in this.”
Newmont Mining Corp. reported April 29 a 36 percent drop in its net income because of lower grade at some Nevada operations, and shipping delays.
Net income decreased to $315 million in the third quarter, compared with $490 million for the same quarter in 2011.
The attributable net income from continuing operations of $315 million, or $0.63 per basic share, was down 44 percent from $561 million, or $1.13 per basic share, in the first quarter of 2012.
Adjusted net income was $354 million, or 71 cents a share, compared with $578 million, or $1.17 a share, for the prior year quarter.
“Results from the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012 were influenced by lower grade and recovery at Carlin and lower grade at Twin Creeks in Nevada, and shipping delays resulting in lower concentrate sales,” according to the Newmont news release.
Gold production was down 11 percent from the first quarter in 2012 at approximately 1.2 million ounces, but copper production increased approximately 9 percent at 38 million pounds. Attributable gold sales also decreased 11 percent at about 1.1 million ounces, but copper went up 16 percent at 31 million pounds.
“We made progress on our plans to build long-term shareholder value through disciplined capital allocation and cost and efficiency improvements,” said Gary Goldberg, Newmont president and CEO. “We cut planned 2013 capital expenditure guidance by $100 million and reduced our consolidated spending by $217 million compared to the first quarter of 2012. This drove our all-in sustaining cost per ounce to the lower end of guidance despite some production challenges. We continue to build on this and the $130 million savings we realized last year by streamlining operating and overhead costs and investing in more profitable production to improve shareholder returns.”
Attributable gold production in Nevada was 381,000 ounces at costs applicable to sales of $774 per ounce during the first quarter. Gold production decreased 12 percent from the prior years quarter due to lower grade and recovery at the Twin Creeks autoclave, partially offset by new production at Emigrant and higher throughput at Phoenix.
Costs applicable to sale per ounce increased 25 percent due to lower ounces sold and lower capitalized mine development activities in 2013 compared to 2012.
Newmont continues to expect 2013 attributable gold production between 1.7 million and 1.8 million at CAS between $600 and $650 per ounce and is lowering its 2013 capital expenditure outlook range by $50 million to between $550 to $600 million, consolidated and attributable. Newmont’s board of directors also recently approved full funding of $398 million for the Turf/Leeville vent shaft scheduled for completion in 2015.