South32 has issued an update to its Hermosa zinc project in Arizona, confirming that it continues to advance its construction and development work ahead of a final investment decision during the March 2024 quarter.
The miner said the feasibility study and an independent peer review for the Taylor deposit at Hermosa is on track for completion by the end of December, a long way from kicking off its initial excavation of the main exploration shaft in May. It also began work on the ventilation shaft at that time to provide underground access to the zinc resource.
Pre-sink activities for both shafts remain on track, with 50 feet excavated for the main exploration shaft and 115 feet excavated for a ventilation shaft, the company noted, adding that the construction will allow the creation of infrastructure needed for safe passage of people and vehicles underground. Total depth of the shafts will be approximately 2,900 ft.
“Taylor will use tele-remote semi-autonomous mucking for production stopes, including for development prior to production mining. This will enable operation from the remote operating center and would ‘engineer out’ vehicle and pedestrian interactions in the production mining area,” officials said.
The project is also looking to make use of other advanced mining methods such as dry stack tailings, advanced process control, and the use of ore sensing and ore sorting.
“This advanced, underground mining method enables reduced surface impact and the amount of tailings resulting in a more sustainable mine,” said Hermosa Vice President – Project Delivery Andy Thompson.
The South32 Hermosa Workforce Development Taskforce has been established as well to identify skills needed and local facilities available to help train, develop and expand the region’s workforce. The taskforce enables the Hermosa team to work with local education experts to develop a clear pathway for training local residents to fill skilled jobs at Hermosa.
Finally, Hermosa has engaged Ramboll to guide a baseline community health assessment and outreach to local public health institutions.
A baseline assessment will help Hermosa team to understand what levels of manganese and other minerals already exist in the community and environment. By conducting this assessment before operations begin, we can make sure health and safety controls are in place, better understand any changes over time, and ensure controls remain effective throughout the life of the project.