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Red Lake's Pure Gold Mining greets 2022 with new bosses

Vancouver mining company aims to cut costs, get more production, better performance at Red Lake
Pure Gold headframe 2
(Pure Gold Mining photo)

Pure Gold Mining enters the new year with a new leadership.

Darin Labrenz is out as president-CEO and is being replaced by Troy Fierro, a company director and experienced mining engineer with more than 35 years in operations and leadership positions.

Replacing Sean Tetzlaff as CFO is Chris Haubrich, bumped up from vice president, business development.

Labrenz is also stepping down from the board of directors. Tetzlaff will stay on in an advisory capacity.

Ashley Kates, corporate controller, has been promoted to vice president, finance and corporate secretary.

Several senior manager roles have been eliminated as the Vancouver-headquartered mining company is embarking on company-wide cost-cutting strategy.

The message emanating from the company was that new leadership was needed at the top that understands operating efficiencies and knows how to get the most of out of an underperforming mine.

The PureGold Mine entered commercial production on Aug. 1 and produced 7,657 ounces of gold for 2021 with an average grade of 4.9 grams per tonne.

But change was in the air after ore production had dipped to a low point in October.

The company said the processing mill has shown it's capable of operating beyond its design capacity of 800 tonnes per day.

A key challenge has been shortages of high-grade ore at various times caused by a combination of delays in mine development, "insufficient scheduling flexibility," inadequate geologic information on stopes prior to mining, equipment downtime, and "strategic misalignments."

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Maryse Bélanger, who took over as mine general manager in November, is being praised for making several operational changes last fall on the mine planning and scheduling fronts which lead to improved performance by year's end.

There's been better assay turnaround times, definition drilling work has expanded, and an improved geologic model was drawn up for making better decisions when it comes to mine scheduling.

During December, the mine averaged 662 tonnes per day (tpd) of ore milled at a grade of 6.1 grams per tonne (g/t) gold with 96 per cent recovery for 3,905 ounces of gold produced. The last three weeks of the month, the mine averaged an estimated 760 tpd of ore milled at a grade of 6.6 g/t gold with 96 per cent recovery for an estimated 3,232 ounces of gold produced.

Both are gold production records over those time periods for the fledgling operation.

“I have been immersed in all facets of the operation with the goal of getting the mine profitable in the near-term and ensuring that the culture is one that fosters operational excellence for the long-term. Given the changes underway, I am confident that we will be successful going forward," Bélanger said in a statement.

"The PureGold Mine needs a leadership team with deep operational experience to guide and support the team at site, shift after shift, day after day, to be successful. We have that at PureGold now and in time, success will follow.”

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Beside improved mining practices, the company is exploring various cost saving measures in 2022.

A new crushing and hauling contract was awarded in November, which has reduced material handling costs by 25 per cent, and a new agreement is being negotiated with Dumas Mine Contracting which will reduce costs.

A consignment program for critical parts with various vendors has been introduced to keep inventory costs down and equipment availability and productivity high.

A worker accommodations camp will be established by March near the mine to improve their ability to attract and retain talent, while reducing costs of accommodation and travel.