Canada

Copper Cliff North Mine

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Overview

Mine TypeUnderground
Commodities
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Cobalt
  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Gold
Mining Method
  • Uppers Retreat
  • Mechanized Cut & Fill
  • Post Pillar Cut & Fill
  • Drift & Fill
  • Vertical Crater Retreat
  • Slot-Slash
  • Unconsolidated hydraulic fill
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ShapshotCopper Cliff mine is a part of Vale integrated Sudbury (Ontario) Operations which also includes underground mines (Coleman, Creighton, Garson and Totten mines), processing and refining facilities (Clarabelle Mill, Copper Cliff Smelter and Nickel Refinery, Port Colborne refining complex), supported by the Clydach Refinery in Wales, and non-operating mines, and non-producing properties.
Related AssetSudbury Operation

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
Manara Minerals Investment Co. 10 % Indirect
Vale S.A. 90 % Indirect
Vale Canada Ltd. (operator) 100 % Direct
The Sudbury (Ontario) Operations are wholly-owned by Vale Canada Limited (Vale Canada), a Vale S.A. wholly-owned subsidiary. Vale S.A. uses Vale Canada, as operator of the Operations.

On 27 July 2023, Vale S.A. signed a binding agreement with Manara Minerals, a joint venture between Ma’aden and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), under which Manara Minerals will invest in Vale Base Metals Ltd. (“VBM”), the holding entity of Vale’s Energy Transition Metals business, at an implied enterprise value of US$ 26.0 billion.

On April 30, 2024, Vale S.A. announced the completion of its sale to Manara Minerals, under which Manara Minerals will acquire 10% of Vale Base Metals Ltd.

Deposit type

  • Magmatic
  • Footwall hosted

Summary:

The Copper Cliff deposit consists of numerous mineralized zones. The major zones include the actively-mined 120, 100, 900, 880, 865, 860, 830, 810 orebodies, and the currently inactive 191, 178, 138, 890, 850, 790, 740, 725, and 712 zones.

Copper Cliff is predominantly an Offset-style deposit with associated minor Contact- and Footwalltype mineralization styles. Mineralization is hosted in a quartz–diorite dyke, the Copper Cliff Offset, which strikes 15 km south into footwall rocks from the base of the SIC, is steeply dipping, and averages 40 m wide. The Copper Cliff Offset is cut by narrow aplitic, quartz diabase, and olivine diabase dykes, locally referred to as “trap dykes”.

Contact-style mineralization associated with Sublayer norite is present in the North Copper Cliff mine area. Sudbury Breccia occurs in footwall rocks adjacent to the Copper Cliff Offset.

STRUCTURE
The Copper Cliff Offset is affected by post-impact displacement along the Creighton and Murray faults and several smaller splay faults.

The Copper Cliff Offset is folded about northeasterly-trending open fold axes that have steeplydipping axial planes. Folding of the quartz–diorite dyke is confined to part of the dyke south of the Creighton fault. West-trending diabase and northwest-trending olivine diabase dykes post-date the folding.

MINERALIZATION
The sulphide mineralization is mainly associated with coarser grained quartz diorite and rarely crosscuts footwall rocks. Mineralization consists of disseminated and ragged disseminated sulphides, interstitial sulphides, inclusion massive sulphides, gabbro peridotite inclusion sulphides, contorted schist inclusion sulphides and massive sulphides.

The major sulphides are pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite and pentlandite. Minor sulphides include pyrite, cobaltite, sphalerite, galena, and gersdorffite (NiAsS). The precious metal mineral assemblage includes sperrylite, froodite (PdBi2), michenerite, hollingworthite ((Rh, Pt, Pd) AsS), native gold, argentite (Ag2S) and hessite (Ag2Te).

Sulphide content increases towards the centre of the ore zones and also increases with depth. Typically, chalcopyrite content increases from the centre along strike and down-dip. The Copper Cliff mine zones have variable copper to nickel and pyrrhotite to nickel ratios.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Summary:

Ore is trammed to the 2639 ore pass (on the 2,600 and 3,400 Levels) or dumped directly into the crusher (on the 3,935 Level);

Crushed ore is hoisted to surface through #1 Shaft in 13.6 t skips that have a capacity of 270 t/hr;

Ore is then trucked to surface stockpiles for blending with other ore sources to meet milling requirements.

Clarabelle Mill
In 2017, the crushing plant and rod mill circuit was put on care and maintenance and the Clarabelle Mill became a SAG-only operating plant.

The ore feeds the semi-autogenous grind (SAG) mill where ore is ground with added water. Discharge passes through a trommel; coarse trommel oversize material is transferred back to the tipple building by conveyor, while the trommel undersize is pumped to vibrating screens located near the feed of the SAG mill. Screen oversize is fed back into the SAG mill while the screen undersize is pumped to the ball mill feed distribution pumping system;

Product from primary grinding circuit feeds the ball mill feed distribution system, which can send slurry to the cyclone feed pumpboxes of six ball mills. Each ball mill in combination with its own cyclone system grinds the material to a target of 80% passing 150 µm (106 µm for sulphides). Once the material is ground to the correct size, the slurry is sent to flotation.

Processing

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Production

Combined production numbers are reported under Sudbury Operation

Operational metrics

Metrics202220212020201920182017
Ore tonnes mined 000000000000746 kt814 kt
Daily ore mining rate

Production Costs

Commodity production costs have not been reported.

Heavy Mobile Equipment

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Personnel

Mine Management

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Aerial view:

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