777 repairs will likely continue until December: Hudbay

At least another month and up to $5 million. That’s the word from Hudbay about how long - and how much - it will take to fix the 777 shaft.

The company confirmed Oct. 26 that inspections have taken place at the 777 site, showing damage to the headframe and the bottom of the shaft in the compartment within the shaft that contains the skip. The damage to the shaft does not appear, according to Hudbay, to have compromised the shaft’s structural integrity. No damage was reported either to the cage or to the ore loading area.

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“A full inspection of the shaft and skip compartment will require an in-person inspect, which is expected in early November,” reads a news release from the company on the incident.

Hudbay expects that, barring any further damage, the mine could reopen fully in December. Repair cost for the project, according to the company, is “not expected to exceed $5 million.”

Some mining activity has resumed at 777, with workers able to get ore out of the mine through the mine’s on-site ramp access. Hudbay expects the 777 situation to take a chunk out of their fourth quarter production figures for the year, but has put in place what it calls “production mitigation plans” to cover the drop in production and expects to still hit its annual production and cost guidances for 2020.

Hudbay has reassigned around 100 employees from 777 to work at Lalor mine and Hudbay operations near Snow Lake while repair and recognizance work takes place at 777.

Work at the 777 mine site has slowed dramatically following the Oct. 9 incident, which took place during routine maintenance to the the mine’s skip - a bucket used to haul ore and material to surface from underground. While replacing a part of the cable used with the skip, the skip became loose from the cable and fell down the mine’s shaft all the way to the bottom - over a kilometre and a half below the earth’s surface.

No injuries were reported. The company initially reported work at the mine would be “disrupted” and repairs could take “several weeks” - a stop-work order for the mine was lifted last week and some employees were able to return to work as early as Oct. 17.

When asked about the incident, Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley said at the Oct. 20 city council meeting that he was relieved no one was hurt.

“I’m just very pleased no one was hurt in the incident. It was a significant event,” he said.

“We’ve had a brief meeting with Hudbay [Oct. 20] and they indicated that they are developing and drilling and filling stopes and doing what they need to do underground. If the ore is close enough to the main ramp, they’ll be hauling some material out that way while the skips are down.”

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