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New Gold makes progress in shifting from pit to underground mining

Rainy River Mine shows improved quarterly gold production at more than 61,000 ounces
Open-pit mining at New Gold's Rainy River Mine (Company photo)

New Gold continues to make headway in developing an underground mine at its Rainy River open-pit operation, northwest of Fort Frances.

In posting its second quarter results, New Gold President-CEO Pat Godin said in a July 27 conference call with analysts that underground production continues to ramp up with more than 99,000 tonnes of ore pulled from its Intrepid zone at a grade of 3.11 grams per tonne. About 524 metres of progress was made on the development side.

The Toronto company reported adjusted net earnings of $12 million during the quarter.

The mine is 65 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances and sits on 6,140 hectares.

Rainy River is gradually shifting from open-pit mining to underground operations with the construction of an access ramp to reach two gold zones.

New Gold is already mining from the Intrepid Zone, located east of the pit. The first stope was blasted last September. The peak period of underground mining will be between 2025 and 2028 until the deposit is depleted in 2031, unless exploration efforts define more resources to extend the mine life.

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Mining in the pit began in 2017 and will continue through 2024.

Beyond the Intrepid Zone, the company is looking to tap into another underground ore body, dubbed the Main Zone, which will be accessed via the Intepid.

Godin said there’s an unexplored “gap” between the two zones that is worth checking out. Since the mine crews are already down there, there’s ramp access and all the mine-related infrastructure is in place, he said that’s a better and more cost effective way to tap into the Main Zone rather than access it through the pit.

On the second quarter results, New Gold called gold production  “excellent” with more than 102,300 ounces from its two mines in northwestern Ontario and from its New Afton gold-copper in B.C., up 45 per cent from the same period last year. 

Rainy River contributed 61,419 ounces of that total production with a gold grade at 0.97 grams per tonne,“well above the second quarter from last year,” said Godin.