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Friday, May 11, 2012

How to develop a hard rock gold deposit

An open pit gold mine at Val D'or, Quebec.  The refinery is in the background.

Once a prospector has found a viable gold deposit where a mine is going to be built the job is turned over to a firm that specializes in turning the prospect into a working mine.  It is because of this one of the great associations of the mining business got its name – the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

To create a working mine many different things have to come together, and the mine developer is like the conductor of a symphony orchestra.  One of the very first things that happen is deciding the form the mine is going to take open pit or underground.  Both types of mine have their strongpoints and sometimes the two schemes are worked together as at the Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins, Ontario.  Even to a layman it’s obvious that an open pit mine is more economical to operate then an underground mine because it requires much less equipment.  It can also use large equipment that can’t be used underground.
The Oryx Mine in South Africa - An example of an underground gold mine.
Photo by Babakathy

Most countries have environmental laws that require getting all kinds of environmental permits before starting construction of a mine.  This also falls under the purview of the developer although the actual permitting process is under the direction of a lawyer.  Another important document in the permitting process is the Mine Closure Plan that is usually prepared by an engineer or landscape architect that describes what will happen to the real estate once the mine closes for good.

Depending on the size of the mine determines how much physical work will be required to bring the mine up to production.  This can be a major construction project in itself involving all kinds of construction equipment let along mining equipment.

This is why the Mexicans say, “It takes a silver mine to open a gold mine,? 


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