Over the last six years Mandalay Resources has increased production rates and improved safety outcomes at its Costerfield mine in Victoria, Australia. This mine is an underground operation utilising narrow mining techniques to extract vertical veins, and produces up to 80 000 equivalent ounces of gold per annum, in both gold and antimony value.
The operational challenges of narrow vein mining include controlling overbreak when veins being mined are only 300 mm wide. The mine has developed methods and modified equipment to suit extraction of these veins. Productivity improvements over the period have involved development of a stoping method and equipment to suit 1.8 m wide development drives. Over the last five years and during a skills shortage, recruitment, training and retention of personnel has been key to keeping corporate knowledge and skills to execute a careful efficient mining technique to minimise overbreak.
Managing an underground operation close to nearby residents has unique challenges. Historically Victorian residents had family members work as underground miners; however, in the current day with few underground operations in this jurisdiction, community knowledge of mining has decreased. The Costerfield Operations are only 100 m from the nearest residence and the company values community engagement, partnership and investment with local Heathcote organisations.
The mine has invested substantially in executive coaching of its leadership team early, which has paid dividends in problem solving potential of that team and ensuring the operation delivers on its promises to all stakeholders. The operation has become safer and employees are now more aware of their individual contribution in producing safe, efficient gold and antimony that benefit the whole operation, community and the region.
McCarthy, M, 2016. Costerfield – a narrow vein case study, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 331-338 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).