"It is essential to use technologies in new ways to make operations safer and more efficient."
What was your vision behind the creation of Practical Mining?
After having worked for several different mining companies in Nevada and in Colorado, I started Practical Mining in 2005. Practical Mining was founded to provide geologic and mine engineering services with the goal of maximizing the value of mineral resources and mineral reserves. The company has two full time employees plus numerous professionals that we have worked with in the past and can draw on if the project requires their area of technical expertise.
Could you elaborate on Practical Mining’s geologic and engineering services?
We do a considerable amount of mineral resource work, especially geologic modeling and mine planning. NI 43-101 and SK-1300 reports make up a large percentage of our work. We also perform a lot of scoping study type work, either on the geology or the mine engineering side. Mine planning work includes both underground and surface methods.
Can you tell us about the company’s expertise in underground mining and comment on the main trends you are observing in Nevada?
In the 1980s and 1990s, explorers were searching for open-pit oxide heap leachable deposits, and most of them did not drill beyond 500-feet. Below 500-feet the mineralization transitions to refractory and extensive dewatering is nearly always required. Today’s mines are reaching below that level and geologic modelling and mine planning need to take both of these into consideration.
Mining in Nevada, at any depth, has always had to deal with poor ground conditions. Practical Mining has years of experience dealing with these conditions and can incorporate methods to safely manage them into the selection of mining methods, detailed mine planning and accurate cost estimates.
Can you provide an example of Practical Mining’s technologies to improve safety and efficiency underground?
I believe the key to survival in the mining industry is innovation. With increasing regulations and technical difficulty, it is essential to use technologies in new ways to make operations safer and more efficient. At Practical Mining, we have purchased LIDAR scanning technology from the Australian company Hovermap. It can be deployed as handheld, mounted on a vehicle and on a robotic drone. The drone can fly into inaccessible underground excavations, out of line of sight and communication range and automatically return to the home point. It continuously maps its location and recalculates the path to return home.
What are some of your recent projects in Nevada?
We have worked with Premier Gold Mines and i-80 Gold on the McCoy-Cove project for nearly eight years helping them to advance the project from a Resource Estimate to the pre-feasibility stage. We have produced 43-101 technical reports on the McCoy-Cove and South Arturo projects. We are also supporting clients with due diligence work when considering mergers and acquisitions.
Recently, we have been doing a lot of work for Small Mine Development and First Majestic Silver at the Jerritt Canyon mines where we have been exploring new ways of using our LIDAR scanning equipment. Jerritt Canyon requires a large amount of RC drilling to define the resource prior to mining. Using LIDAR scanning, we are able not only to map the collar location, but it can see up to 10-feet down the hole allowing us to measure the bearing and plunge as well. We have scanned several hundred holes in half a shift. This used to require two surveyors and a lift to reach the holes in the back. Using the LIDAR saves time, is safer and more accurate.
Can you tell us about your approach to safety?
Safety in mining starts early in the design stage and continues through reclamation. We incorporate safety considerations in our design work, selecting the most efficient and safest mining methods. Usually, that translates into the most cost-effective method as well.
What makes Practical Mining stand out in the competitive sphere?
We are a small company, which allows us to provide personalized service to our clients. The majority of our clients are repeat customers whom we have worked with on multiple projects over the years. Our reputation is everything and new clients come to us through recommendations from our existing client base.
What are Practical Mining’s priorities moving forward?
We will continue to provide quality work on a timely basis to our clients and keep looking for ways to improve our work. We need to find ways to apply technology to make mines more efficient and safer.