Coeur Mining (NYSE: CDE) has locked in further production growth on the back of several critical milestones achieved at its major Rochester expansion project in Nevada, including the first gold and silver pour.
Located in Pershing county, Nevada, the Coeur Rochester mine is an open pit, heap-leach silver-gold operation that first began in 1986. After a brief pause between 2007-2010, mining operations resumed in 2011.
The operation is currently undergoing its largest expansion to date, which would potentially extend Rochester’s mine life for another 13 years. Last year, the Rochester mine accounted for 11% of Coeur’s gold production and 31% of its silver production.
On Monday, the US-based precious metals miner announced that the new Stage VI leach pad and Merill-Crowe process plant have now commenced metal production. Approximately one-third of the 8 million tons of ore on the new pad are currently under leach, Coeur said.
The Merrill-Crowe plant is achieving a flow rate of roughly 3,500 gallons per minute of solution. Full ramp-up to commercial production of around 13,000 gpm is expected to be achieved in early 2024, the company added.
Construction of the new three-stage crushing circuit is substantially complete. Once fully ramped-up, throughput is expected to average 32 million tons per year, which, according to Coeur, is approximately 2.5 times higher than historical levels, making Rochester one of the world’s largest open pit heap leach operations.
The company also noted that a multi-day test of truck and loading capacity was completed earlier this month to ensure that the mine can support the higher throughput rates associated with the newly configured Rochester circuit.
This test confirmed the mine’s ability to safely support the designed capacity of up to 100,000 tons per day in 2023 and up to 132,000 tons per day in 2024. Data gathered during the test will be used to refine processes and identify opportunities for additional efficiencies in cycle and load counts, it said.
“The achievement of these three critical milestones marks the beginning of a new growth phase for Coeur,” CEO Mitchell Krebs said in a press release.
“The focus is now shifting to commissioning, ramp-up and mine optimization initiatives as well as prioritizing several adjacent exploration targets located on Rochester’s prospective 69-square-mile land package.”