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Company Reports - Beaver Brook Antimony Mine  

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Beaver Brook Antimony Mine

Safety comes first at this Newfoundland antimony mine with over 970 days

Written by Alexandra Stadnyk & Produced by Ian Ross

Beaver Brook Antimony Mine (BBAM) is located in Central Newfoundland near the town of Glenwood. Beaver Brook is the only operating antimony mine in North America, and is one of the world's largest antimony deposits outside of China. BBAM is fast becoming a well recognized antimony concentrate producer whose high quality product is being sought from many countries.
Safety comes first at this Newfoundland antimony mine with over 970 days
Beaver Brook Antimony Mine (BBAM) is located in Central Newfoundland near the town of Glenwood. Beaver Brook is the only operating antimony mine in North America, and is one of the world's largest antimony deposits outside of China. BBAM is fast becoming a well recognized antimony concentrate producer whose high quality product is being sought from many countries.

The mine produces a high grade, low impurity antimony concentrate. Antimony trioxide, the most important commercial form of this rare metal is used extensively in the production of chemicals that are utilized to infuse plastics, textiles, rubber, and other materials as a flame retardant synergist. Antimony is also used as a hardening alloy for lead, in the manufacturing of storage batteries and cable sheaths, metal bearings, special metals, collapsible tubes and foil, metal sheet and pipes, and semiconductor technology.

The Beaver Brook deposit was discovered in the 1980's, with an initial startup for several months in 1996/97. The mine re-opened in 2008 and has been ramping up towards commercial production which is expected in 2010, says Robert McGuire, general manager of BBAM. McGuire is a professional mining engineer with over 30 years experience in mining. He has operated at sites in Africa, Central and South America, and Canada. McGuire says that BBAM is a high grade antimony deposit with an expected 10 year mine life and says that "the operation has exciting potential to be a long life, low cost antimony producer for world markets."

The 550 tonne per day underground mine, with 84 employees, has plans to grow in the future. Currently the main ramp from surface is being deepened to gain access to more resources to increase production to supply the international antimony markets. BBAM's concentrate sales are to China but there are possibilities to expand exports to Europe and Japan in the near future. McGuire noted that several important antimony user companies have expressed interest in antimony concentrate from Beaver Brook, providing BBAM with positive market possibilities.

As a basis for future growth, Beaver Brook plans to increase resources & reserves significantly with a diamond drilling exploration program in conjunction with an infill & extensional diamond drilling program for the known deposit. The exploration program will be driven by the recently completed induced polarization (IP) survey with drilling planned to start later in 2009. According to McGuire, there are high potential targets for exploration from the IP survey anomaly trends.

The mine continues to improve efficiencies & productivity with reduced dilution and higher ore recovery, using mechanized, non-captive, cut and fill as a successful mining method. The mill utilizes a three stage floatation process with high metal recoveries (95% range), high concentrate grade (65% range), and with few impurities. With few contaminants & high grade, our concentrate is valued in the world antimony market says McGuire. McGuire also noted that the operation will continue to upgrade the mill with more automations, controls, & improvements. For example, there is a throughput restriction at the disk filter & dryer stages. A Larox filter press was purchased to increase mill production, decrease moisture content in the concentrate, & eliminate the dryer & disc filter bottleneck. This project will also reduce electrical energy consumption. The reduced moisture will decrease shipping costs. All concentrate is bagged in 1-tonne tote bags and trucked to Halifax then shipped to buyers abroad.

BBAM places high emphasis on high quality & regular maintenance. BBAM continues to develop the mine and modernize the mill. There are constant and consistent efforts to work to improve and seek excellence in the environmental and safety standards at the operation. The priorities at the operation are safety, environmental responsibility, high resources & reserves, tight control of operating & capital costs, and production, in that order. All employees are extremely proud of their impressive safety record of >970 days without a loss time accident. "We work extremely hard at our safety programs, safety enforcement, and risk evaluation. We are also very proud of our environmental achievements and our attention to this. We realize this is an important part of our duties & is a total team effort by all employees," says McGuire. The operation is non-unionized & has an employee-employer relations committee which works very effectively. The company has a very attractive group health benefits plan.

"We value our excellent relationships with government agencies, such as the provincial Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environment and Conservation, and other departments," says McGuire. "The local & provincial government have given us encouragement and worked with us to move BBAM forward."

"Also, our head office has provided and continues to provide capital to grow the operation which we intend to continue" says McGuire.

With world demand for antimony expected to steady and to become more robust next year with expected consistent growth in the longer term, BBAM will no doubt play a large role in supplying international markets with antimony concentrate for many years.
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