Learn our copper mining process from development to delivery

Being a northern mining company isn’t always easy, but our safe and environmentally-focused process ensures our partner and customer always receives a high-quality, sustainably sourced product.

FROM THE FROZEN NORTH ACROSS THE SEA

It all starts at the Minto mine in the Yukon

Copper/gold concentrate produced at the Minto mine is loaded onto trucks headed for Alaska. En route, the concentrate trucks must cross the Yukon River by barge or ice bridge.

Our first stop is Skagway, Alaska

When the concentrate arrives at the Skagway Ore Terminal, it’s stored until there is a sufficient load to be shipped to Japan.

Final destination? Port of Niihama, Japan

The product reaches its final destination, a smelter and refinery at the Port of Niihama, Japan, and is delivered to our partner and customer, Sumitomo Corporation.

Northern mining is a game of strategy

Mother Nature isn’t always predictable. During the spring and fall, when the river is not high enough for the barge to operate, the only means in and out of the mine site is by chartered plane. Therefore, the concentrate must be stored at Minto until the shoulder season is over. Given the potential for logistical challenges, Minto has an agreement with Sumitomo Corporation. This agreement creates a long-term relationship for the purchase of Minto’s concentrate.

How we work

The Minto mine commenced Yukon mining operations in 2007 as an open pit mine. In 2012 the company began underground development on the Minto South Deposits while continuing to mine additional open pits as the primary mining method. Today, the mining is entirely underground and we are currently producing in the Copper Keel ore body.

We prioritize infrastructure

We have recently completed critical infrastructure in our underground operations including commissioning the Copper Keel Secondary Egress (an alternate exit route in case of emergency), relocating the Portable Refuge Station, and installing the Copper Keel access ramp. We’ve also upgraded the electrical system in the Copper Keel ore body to ensure there is the capacity for future development.

We’re exploring new opportunities in the Minto Copper Belt

The Minto mine sits within the Minto Copper Belt, a 42-kilometer-long northwest-trending corridor of copper-gold-silver mineralization in central Yukon. The copper mineralization we’ve found in the belt is hosted within migmatites (metamorphic rocks that have undergone high degrees of partial melting). And in fact, only a few examples exist worldwide that host high-grade copper mineralization associated with migmatite similar to that of Minto. This is a new and exciting opportunity for us as we continue our primary objective of upgrading mineral resources to reserves and exploring new ore deposits.

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Our underground mining methods are safe and efficient

Minto performs underground mining using a long hole mining method. The long hole stopes are retreated from an extraction development drive with rib pillars left between stope lines for ground stability. Ore is extracted from the mine with 45-tonne haul trucks utilizing a 15% ramp to surface.  The underground operations are currently producing 2,500tpd and plans are in place to ramp up that production level in 2021 as we expand into other areas of the mine operation.  Our current main mining area is Copper Keel and it utilizes the longhole stoping method.  We have invested in two new scooptrams (CAT R1700K units) to support our plans for increasing ore production.

“Milling Operations are performing as planned.”

The Mill was designed to handle the higher production rates when you are mining open pit deposits.  While we are working on plans to potentially start a new open pit in the coming years, we are currently producing 100% of our ore from underground.  As a result, we are only operating our Mill about 60% of the time.  Our Mill is capable of +4,000tpd of processing capacity so we stockpile ore from the underground and once we have sufficient quantities, we start the Mill.  The Mill runs continuously until we have consumed the ore stockpile at which time we stop the mill processing and move to perform routine maintenance on our equipment.  Our team is working hard to identify opportunities to produce more ore and fill our Mill in the future.

Health and safety are always on our mind

Minto values the health and safety of our people! Minto maintains a Target: ZERO philosophy that believes all incidents are preventable and that every effort must be made to eliminate significant accidents and reduce minor incidents toward ZERO. Our safety standards are such that no one is expected to put themselves at risk in any way while performing their duties at the Minto mine.

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