Ghana-focused Asante Gold is considering using a new “disrupter” mining method at its Kubi gold project, which CEO Douglas MacQuarrie says has the potential to do for narrow, hard rock mining what hydraulic fracturing did for previously uneconomic gas and oil deposits.
SMD, or sustainable mining by drilling, is a large bore precision drilling method that enables direct mining of narrow deposits.
The method, being developed and commercialised by TSX-listed Anaconda Mining, required a low capital outlay and appeared well suited to the 5 g/t Kubi-style mineralisation, Asante said.
Initial research indicated that multiple drills could be contractor leased, bringing down costs. SMD would also not require a costly processing plant, crushing, grinding or carbon-in-leach/cyanide circuits or tailings dams.
As no underground development was required, permitting and construction time and costs were brought down, while the environmental impact of a mine was reduced by the absence of opencuts, prestripping and pit backfilling.
Production would be from direct drilling of about 2.5-m-diameter holes, which would be backfilled on completion with cemented waste and revegetated. Production would be scalable, with each SMD drill estimated to produce about 100 t/d.
Operating costs would also be low, with initial estimates suggesting that the operational expenditure would be less than half of conventional underground mining costs, Asante said.
The SMD drills would be electric, powered by a solar farm with mains grid storage.
“Asante is excited about the potential for this new ‘disruptor’ technology to transform Kubi from a gold deposit to a gold producer,” MacQuarrie said.
Anaconda is developing the SMD method in collaboration with Memorial University of Newfoundland. The drilling approach was a finalist in this year’s Goldcorp #DisruptMining competition.
Anaconda has announced a “proof concept” field trial at one of its deposits in Newfoundland, targeting startup in late August or September, with the trial lasting about two months.
Meanwhile, Asante on Monday announced a private placement to accredited investors of up to five-million units at C$0.05 a unit, for aggregate gross proceeds of up to C$250 000.
The Kubi project is adjoining to the south of the 66-million-ounce AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi mine.