March/April 2006

The 777 Mine

Hitting full production this year

By H. Ednie

Nestled in the heart of Canada, the 777 Mine is the flagship mine of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Limited in Flin Flon, Manitoba, owned by HudBay Minerals Inc. The 777 Mine is set to achieve full production by year’s end. Since the feasibility study was completed in April 1999, the 777 deposit has been constructed to be a world-class producer of copper and zinc.

HudBay Minerals Inc. (previously Ontzinc Corporation) acquired Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited, including its Flin Flon operations, on December 21, 2004, for $316 million plus adjustments from Anglo American plc. Following the acquisition, the management and operations team did not change, and day to day running of the 777 Mine remains unchanged.

Located approximately 0.5 kilometres south of the underground workings at Callinan Mine and adjacent to the Flin Flon metallurgical plant facilities, at commencement the ore body contained 14.53 million tonnes at 2.51 per cent copper and 4.68 per cent zinc. The top of the ore body is at approximately 900 metres below surface, dipping at an average of 41 degrees. The mine has been designed for production to 1.35 million tonnes without modifications to the mine’s infrastructure. The company is both ISO 14000 and OHSAS 18001 certified, and 777 is fully compliant with regulatory and company standards.

The development of the 777 ore body incorporated a new concrete-lined 6.7 metre diameter shaft, 1,530 metres deep, and lateral development. The shaft incorporates two 16- tonne skips, a man/material cage and counterweight, and a Maryanne cage. There are two double drum hoists, a 4100 kW production hoist, and a 1300 kW cage/counterweight men and material hoist, and a single drum 820 kW Maryanne hoist.

Lateral development included the crusher chamber, ore and waste bins, load-out facilities, main underground shop, a dewatering system, and access to the deposit on three horizons.

The 777 Mine surface facilities consist of the hoisthouse, headframe/collar/bin complex, intake fans, exhaust fan, office/dry building, electrical substation, pumphouse, and warehouse. The hoisthouse, headframe/collar/bin complex, electrical substation, pumphouse, and warehouse were completed prior to the commencement of shaft sinking. The fans were commissioned in conjunction with the start of the lateral development and the office/dry building was completed during the summer of 2003.

The 777 today

In the final year of ramping up to design capacity, the 777 Mine levels are now interconnected via an internal ramp system from the Callinan Mine. Eight mining areas are now fully developed to allow production at a blended grade for the Flin Flon concentrator. All areas have a network of paste fill piping, allowing high speed filling of the mined out stopes. The mining plan has been successful, with a longhole open stope approach in a primary/secondary method in wide ore widths and longitudinal retreat methods in areas where the ore widths are relatively small.

“We have achieved a number of milestones on this project,” said H. Russell Rood, president, mining division, HudBay Minerals Inc. “We have had an extremely good safety record from the start of the project to date. The capital project was completed on time and on budget, and there has been a successful paste plant startup and operation, as well as a successful transition from Major Project to Operations control. We’ve maintained our scheduled ramp-up of tonnage, and are set to proceed smoothly to design capacity.”

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