After scaling back production and then shutting down in early December due to rockfall, the Troy Mine in northwestern Montana is tentatively scheduled to reopen this spring, officials with Revett Minerals Inc. said.
No one was injured in any of the rockfall at the Lincoln County copper and silver mine, but it prompted a halt in production and presented a safety hazard. Revett CEO John Shanahan attributed the rockfall to heavy rains in November. The operations were scaled back on Dec. 1.
The company recently completed underground inspections of mine corridors and travel-ways in coordination with the Mining Safety and Health Administration, as well as with a geotechnical consultant hired by the mine, according to Revett communications director Monique Hayes. Miners have since returned underground to remove loose rock and ground fall along the main haul route, but a portion of the mine corridor about 3,000 feet from the south adit entrance remains blocked.
Workers are also draining flooded areas and solidifying the mine walls, Hayes said, and the company hopes to have the mine open by the first week of April. However, resuming mining operations depends on the condition of the corridor.
And, while scaling back operations in the final month of 2012 was a financial setback, the mine hopes to avoid layoffs.
“We are pleased that our assessments to date of the North Orebody, which is our main production mining area, indicate that it is largely unaffected by recent structural ground issues,” Shanahan stated in a company news release. “Regaining full and safe access to these areas and developing new haulage and regress routes will be our prime focus over the coming eight to weeks. The South Orebody remains somewhat problematic, and we will have limited access in that area in the immediate future. We thank everyone, particularly our shareholders and employees, for their patience and support.”
A connecting drive from a northeastern aspect of the ore body to a southeastern portion is currently being developed and will allow for further inspections of the mine and planning of alternate routes, according the release. The company has continued to scale and dewater sections of the north orebody, and the new connecting drive and additional inspections are expected to be completed within three to four weeks.
The company is currently following a plan to safely resume production, Shanahan said, including development of a secondary escapeway.