UNDERGROUND

South32 to deploy 'advanced techniques' at Hermosa

South32 issued an update for its Hermosa project in Arizona. The diversified mining company said the project is advancing through the construction phase.

 South32 plans to deploy several "advanced mining techniques" at Hermosa including dry stacking. Photo: South32

South32 plans to deploy several "advanced mining techniques" at Hermosa including dry stacking. Photo: South32

Additionally, a feasibility study for Hermosa's Taylor deposit and an independent peer review is scheduled for completion by the end of December, and the final investment decision is expected in the March 2024 quarter.

In May, South32 began digging the main exploration and ventilation shafts to access the underground zinc resource. Progress is on track, with 50 feet excavated for the main shaft and 115 feet for the ventilation shaft, the company said.

The shafts' total depth is expected to reach around 2,900 feet, ensuring safe underground passage for people and vehicles.

South32 plans to deploy tele-remote semi-autonomous mucking at Taylor for production stopes, allowing remote operation from a central location. The move is designed to enhance safety by minimising vehicle and pedestrian interactions in the production mining area.

Other advanced mining techniques are being looked at for use at Hermosa, including dry stack tailings, advanced process control, and the utilisation 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 Andy Thompson, vice president of project delivery at Hermosa.

Beyond the project, South32 has established the Hermosa Workforce Development Taskforce to identify required skills and local training facilities, facilitating collaboration between the Hermosa team and local education experts.

 "The first step in helping transform the local economy is partnering with community members whose expertise and understanding of our region's educational needs can help create opportunities so that the next generation can stay in Santa Cruz County," Skylie Estep, South32's North American human resources director, said.

The mining company has also hired global firm Ramboll to conduct a baseline health assessment, emphasising transparency and accountability in monitoring community well-being.

The proactive measure will highlight effective health and safety controls and evaluate existing manganese and mineral levels before project operations begin.

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