For close to a century, Hudbay Minerals has been associated with base metals, primarily copper and zinc. We still identify ourselves as a copper company, and that metal remains the primary focus of our operations and our strategy. However, the extensive gold reserves we have been able to define at our Lalor mine and other wholly owned properties in the Snow Lake region are helping Lalor evolve from a zinc producer to a gold producer.
In 2020, we took several steps that will enable us to further enhance operational efficiency at Lalor and improve gold recoveries from Lalor and other Snow Lake gold deposits. Our most significant progress has been with respect to refurbishing the New Britannia mill, which we acquired for $10 million in 2015. By the end of 2020, refurbishment was 73% complete, and commissioning is planned for mid-2021, well ahead of the original schedule.
Once it is fully up and running, New Britannia, combined with the Stall mill, will provide Lalor with a milling capacity of approximately 5,300 tonnes per day. In turn, this will enable Hudbay to more than double gold production from Lalor – to 180,000 ounces per year by 2022.
Additionally, a number of continuous improvement projects have been completed at our Snow Lake operations that have positioned Lalor and Stall for record throughputs in 2021; these projects include:
- conducting mine-wide Kaizens to access the collective insight of Lalor team members in order to overcome potential bottlenecks and identify opportunities for introducing best practice in everything we do
- setting up a state-of-the-art mobile garage facility that can support a 5,300 tonnes-per-day mining operation that keeps the fleet running at top efficiency
- using digital solutions from Mobilaris Mining Intelligence™ to get an unsurpassed real-time look at mine operations in order to optimize safety and productivity
- employing an XRF gun that uses X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to analyze the makeup of minerals for stockpile blending and management in order to help maximize recoveries at the Stall mill
In 2021, we will continue to move our Lalor and Snow Lake operations toward peak efficiency to get the best possible return on gold, copper and zinc that we find in the region. We will also draw upon our proven skills in finding new resources and extending the mine life of our operations, so our stakeholders can benefit from our efforts for many years to come.