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Company Reports - Beaver Brook Antimony Mine  

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Beaver Brook Antimony Mine

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Written by John Connelly & Produced by Jason Rosart

Central Newfoundland, Canada mining company Beaver Brook Antimony Mine Inc. (BBAM) is embarking on an exciting period of rapid growth, infusing new investments and employee relations strategies into its operating model.
Metal mining modifications
Central Newfoundland, Canada mining company Beaver Brook Antimony Mine Inc. (BBAM) is embarking on an exciting period of rapid growth, infusing new investments and employee relations strategies into its operating model. As the only antimony mine in North America and the largest outside of China, Beaver Brook seeks to squeeze the largest volume of resources out of the ground in its 10-year history.

“We are in an exciting period right now,” says General Manager Brian Delaney. “We are experiencing a lot of change and growing quickly. The company will benefit greatly from the investments we are making.”

THE SYNOPSIS
After re-opening in January 2009 after a near decade-long closure, Beaver Brook’s ownership sold the company to China’s Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation in October of 2009. The buyout was a no-brainer as Beaver Brook’s United Kingdom-based holding company sought a buyer, and the Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation reigns supreme as the world’s largest antimony company.

“After the buyout, there wasn’t a big effect on the process as plans were carefully laid out to move to full production. There is now more certainty and support,” says Delaney.

Today, about 80 to 90 percent of the world’s antimony is produced in China. Antimony is a rare metal used in the production of chemicals that are utilized to infuse plastics, textiles, rubber, and other materials as a flame retardant.

FLUSH TIMES
Delaney oversees this profitable era and is taking full advantage of antimony’s high trading price to invest in new machinery and software, ramp up the staff and explore new sources to prolong the estimated ten-year operating life.

Beaver Brook, under Delaney’s watch, recently commissioned its new dewatering system that will improve efficiencies and cut costs. The dryer system will reduce moisture weight by about four percent, reducing overall moisture from ten percent to six percent, plus or minus one-half percent. The result will be less energy spent on transportation from the mine to the port in Halifax and on to China.

“Interestingly, the changes we have made make good business sense and help the environment. They go together. When we use less fuel to ship our product, that is good for the environment and saves us money,” says Delaney.

The company has purchased and implemented new mining software, which is produced by the global leader in mining solutions, Gemcom. Delaney anticipates the software will greatly enhance Beaver Brook’s exploration, planning and operations to, ultimately, better the company’s bottom-line.

“I have known about the software from my experiences in the industry and believe it will help us better plan both current and future mining and exploration activities. Gemcom is widely regarded and I knew it would help us gain a better understanding of the ore body and thereby enhance our current operations,” Delaney explains.

FOSTERING RELATIONSHIPS
As operations increase, Delaney anticipates a need to supplement the employee roster. Beaver Brook will staff a workforce of about 100 people. To facilitate communication Beaver Brook has installed a new employer-employee relations committee that will meet monthly to explore best practices with the hopes of strengthening and reinforcing management’s commitment to its workers.

“Basically we took input from many people about how to make the relationship better. Our employees made suggestions from their experiences elsewhere.  The committee meets monthly and the minutes are then made available for everyone to see,” says Delaney.

As the workforce expands, Beaver Brook plans to move away from their four-day on, three-day off schedule in the mill and eventually operate on a seven-day on, seven-day off schedule. This new production model will double output.

FORECASTING HURDLES
Delaney and Beaver Brook reap the spoils of a blossoming antimony market today and foresee a rosy picture for the next five to seven years. But as with every mine, Beaver Brook hopes to stave off its closure strategy by discovering new resources below. Without revealing locations and potential yields, Delaney implies that a new discovery is imminent. An initial IP survey identified several high potential targets and Beaver Brook sets a midyear to fall timetable for exploration.

In the meanwhile, Delaney pinpoints supply chain management as the most glaring immediate challenge due to operating on an island such as Newfoundland. The company will explore alternative methods to mitigate cost structures and decrease budget allocations. Beaver Brook will also continue working with its major partners, including BDI, Atlas Copco, Caterpillar and Ozark.

“We will continue to work with our longtime partners and, as always, explore new ones,” says Delaney. “We are taking bids for new projects and will announce the winners at some point in the future.”

CHAMPIONING SAFETY
Safety remains at the forefront of Beaver Brook’s priorities. Delaney proudly notes that the company has now gone 1,272 days of no-lost time, meaning no serious injuries incurred, as of April 26, 2010.

Beaver Brook sends it condolences to the family and friends of those miners lost in the deadly mine explosion in West Virginia. With the West Virginia mine tragedy still fresh on people’s minds, Delaney adds, “We always take safety very seriously here. Miners can never be complacent.”
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