Written by; Chad Simco / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Tue Dec 01 2009
The remediation of the Con Mine south of Yellowknife could result in not only heat for half the city, but also millions of dollars worth of gold. The Yellowknife City Council has requested that the Robertson Shaft headframe, which is the tallest building in the Northwest Territories be spared from destruction. It could house a condominium development, a plant conservatory, or a centre of operations for a geothermal heating plant.
It turns out that geothermal energy brings the temperature in many of the mine shafts up to 35 degrees centigrade or higher, and with groundwater gradually filling the shafts, they may provide enough heat for up to half the community. Part of the lease contract between Northwest Territories and mine operator Newmont Mining corporation includes remediation of the site. Dozens of buildings will be torn down and soil containing contaminants such as arsenic as a byproduct of mining will be cleaned up.
However, demolition will also involve recycling recoverable materials like steel I-beams. And that's where the extra gold comes into the picture. Among the material still lodged in some of the structures is dust that contains gold in various states of refinement. While work is currently on hold for the winter, reclamation crews have recovered some 1,400 ounces of gold.
Newmont is not surprised by this discovery. Gold is heavy and wants to settle in any cracks or low points in a facility. Wherever ore is crushed, milled or otherwise processed, it quickly becomes evident where the low-lying areas are. There's no incentive for removing it if the mine is operating, but after shutting down, it is definitely worth checking sumps, ductwork, and ventilation systems for enough leftover gold to be valuable.
With Canadian spot prices around $1,200 per ounce, reclaiming and gathering all traces of gold from the mine is definitely a worthwhile enterprise. That makes the 1,400 ounces worth nearly $1.5 million so far. Demolition will take around two years to complete, depending on weather conditions. Historically valuable buildings, however, will be spared the wrecking ball.
Copyright: 2009 TCCN.ca