Wednesday, November 09, 2005

They Knew It Was Coming

The Helena, Mont., Independent-Record is reporting that an October 15 rock slide has idled Apollo Gold Corp.'s Montana Tunnels open pit gold mine, Jefferson County, Mont.

The good news is that the slide was predicted and no one got hurt.

"...[mine] staff does most of the monitoring with the help of a sophisticated piece of equipment called a Trimble S6, which is about the size of a large video camera.

Each morning it’s mounted on a stand at the rim of the mine pit and is programmed to shoot an invisible laser beam at a series of prisms that are secured to posts on the walls of the pit.

The Trimble rapidly records the distances to these prisms located at specific coordinates or points. A computer downloads the data, and within a half-hour [geologist Jeff] Levell has a printout that tells him the movement of rocks, the direction of the movement and its velocity. This information allows him to know 48 hours ahead of time, if something is going to fail, he said. So far, supervisors have been able to move miners and equipment out of the way at least 24 hours ahead of a major slide."

The company plans to resume mining and is working with consultants on a plan, the paper said.

The operation has reported 237 employees this year. For some reason MSHA hasn't been out to the site since May according to the agency's data retrieval system.

The company says that in 2004 the Montana Tunnels Mine produced 33,743 ounces of gold and also had payable production of 970,751 ounces of silver, 10,064,265 pounds of lead and 26,222,805 pounds of zinc.


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