Canada

Firebag Mine

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Categories

Overview

Mine TypeOpen Pit
Commodities
  • Silica
  • Frac Sand
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
Production Start... Lock
Mine Life... Lock
ShapshotOn February 22, 2022 Athabasca Minerals Inc. announced that it had commenced the mining and delivery of premium domestic sand from its Firebag resource under its partnership agreement with Métis North Sand & Gravel to a major oilsands operator.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
Badger Mining Corp. 100 % Indirect
AMI Silica Inc. (operator) 100 % Direct
Athabasca Minerals Inc. owns a 100% interest in the Firebag silica sand project.

On October 5, 2018, Athabasca Minerals Inc. transferred the Firebag frac sand mine (the “Firebag Property”) to its wholly-owned subsidiary, AMI Silica Inc.

On April 26, 2024, Athabasca Minerals Inc., together with its subsidiaries (collectively, “Athabasca” or the “Corporation”) closed the previously announced transaction contemplated by the subscription agreement between the Corporation and Badger Mining Corporation (“Badger” or the “Purchaser”) providing for the acquisition of the Corporation by the Purchaser. The Transaction follows the Corporation's filing of the Notice of Intention under the provisions of Part III, Division 1 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada) and its previously announced sales and investment solicitation process (“SISP”).

Deposit type

  • Sedimentary

Summary:

The Firebag Property’s main deposit type is silica sand, or frac sand.

Silica sand, frac sand or proppant (i.e., propping agents) is a durable, round-grained, crushresistant material produced for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. Fracking is used in the oil and gas industry to increase the flow of oil and/or gas from a well. Using hydraulic pressure, the producing formation is fractured open, and then proppants are pumped into the well with fracturing fluid to hold the fissures open so that the natural gas or crude oil can flow up the well. The proppant's size, shape and mechanical strength influence the integrity of the newly created fractures, and, therefore, the flow of oil and gas from the well. Billions of frac sand grains are carried deep into the fracture, and it can take up to four million pounds of sand to frack a single well.

The size range of the frac sand is very important. Typical sand sizes are generally between 8 and 140 mesh; some examples include 16/30 mesh, 20/40 mesh, 30/50 mesh, 40/70 mesh or 70/140 mesh. A controlled range of sizes and favoured spherical shapes will lead to greater conductivity.

The overall Quaternary sand deposit is characterized as follows:
- laterally extensive;
- generally consistent to depths exceeding 24 m;
- high in silica content; and
- indicative of frac sand quality as evidenced by rain size and roundness.

The test-pitting and auger-drilling programs have confirmed that the sand deposit is extensive and correlates closely with the area mapped as “outwash sand” and “eolian sand”. The sands are typically very mature, as geological processes have rounded the sand grains and sorted out most impurities.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Summary:

The system's general design criteria were developed by Norwest to support a yearround transportation and production system. Previous work completed by Norwest and other project development efforts have identified the following potential product sizes: - 20/40 mesh; - 40/70 mesh; and - 70/140 mesh. The conceptual process design was based on the hypothetical feed stock that was derived using the homogenized sample population from the geology component. Both the Lynton receiving area and the Edson processing area are in alignment with the overall system capacity. In general, the Lynton site functions as a receiving and trans-loading area to move the ROM sand from the mine to the processing plant in Edson. The Edson site provides a receiving and stacking system for the ROM feed; it also has a wet plant and a dry plant, a dryer and a product dispatching system on site. Using side dump trucks, the excavated sand will be hauled from the mine to the rail loading site, and unloaded near the train loading hopper. This unwashed and unsized sand will be loaded onto trains in the Lynton rail yard. The Edson site will receive rail shipments, and transfer the load to a stockpile for temporary storage, and then feed the wet plant and dry plant before feeding the multilane product storage and dispatch bins. Based on the preliminary sizing information and the homogenized feed stream Norwest has developed a conventionally sized classification process that uses screen classification and upward current separators (hydrosizers) followed by a final cyclone ultra-fines system. The wet plant includes a conventional, module-based system that has the capacity to process 175 tonnes per hour nominally, but is also capable of processing a 5% finer feed stream at up to 200 tonnes per hour. This design does not include an attriting or scrubbing process because clay-bound fines are not expected to be present in the mined seams. The plant feed conveyor (CV-170) will feed an 8 x 20 single-deck wet screen (SC-200) which begins the wet-washing process. Any oversize from the screen (i.e., +20 mesh) will be rejected as waste. The slurried underflow will be collected in the primary sump (SP-210). A combination of a hydrocyclone (CY-215) and a hydrosizer (HY-S220) will provide the initial classification. The cyclone is used ahead of the hydrosizer to reduce the fines load within the hydrosizer; this provides a sharper separation. The hydrosizer is particularly effective at removing the ultra fines and works by providing a countercurrent flow of water through the injection or teeter water, which flows upward and through the downward-trending solids. This creates a bed of suspended solids and allows the liberation of ultra-fines from the coarse material. The only goal of the hydrosizer operation is to remove the ultra-fines; this can be controlled via the rate of teetered water flow relative to the solid feed. An underflow valve discharges the collected solids from the lower zone and the ultra-fine clays collect from the overflow weir at the top of the unit and are combined with the hydrocyclone (CY-215) overflow for processing in the ultra-fines circuit. A high-frequency dewatering screen (SC-225) will dewater the hydrosizer product and discharge to the plant product conveyor (CV-230). The ultra-fines process consists of a set of cyclones positioned on top of and ahead of a second high-frequency screen (SC-245). Cyclone underflow consists of the collected solids for dewatering; cyclone overflow consists of any segregated ultra-fines for the thickener feed. Dewatered cyclone product on the second high frequency screen (SC-245) will discharge to the plant product conveyor (CV-230), and the underpan will collect the bypassed fines and circulate them for reprocessing and recapture. The ultra-fines from the cyclone (CY-240) will gravity flow to the thickener feed well (TA-250). A 15.2 m diameter thickener has been sized for this project. Thickener underflow will be collected and pumped to a plate and frame press to dewater the fines. This is installed in lieu of any major settling pond; the slime fines will be collected and stored in an on-site reject area. Preliminary sizing indicates that the slime and off-spec coarse will be in the range of 20 to 25 tonnes per hour; it is recommended that future studies further characterize this stream. The washed and sized sand is carried out of the wet plant on the plant product conveyor (CV-230). The product conveyor discharges onto the product radial stacker which is created by dumping material onto the ground into a product stockpile. This material is allowed to free drain in the stockpile before proceeding to the dry plant. The wet plant is enclosed in a prefabricated building located on a floating-mat foundation. Norwest has included foundation support work as an allowance. It is recommended that future studies characterize the soil and depth to bedrock. The dry plant ultimately provides the final specification for the product streams. To complete this task, a thermal drying step is included. Due to its relatively efficient operation, Norwest selected the Ventilex Fluid Bed Dryer for this purpose. An FEL loads the stockpiled sand from the product drying stockpile into the product feed hopper; from here, the sand is metered onto the dryer feed conveyor with a vibratory pan feeder. A conveyor (CV-310) feeds the two Ventilex thermal dryers from a pant-leg chute. Ventilex dryers use a control and feedback loop to modulate the dryer temperature and, therefore, the fuel usage; this ensures that the product is not over dried and meets the conditions. Two collection conveyors transfer the dryer product from a pair of bucket feed elevators to the polishing screens. The screen feed bucket conveyor feeds a set of splitters and flow-dividers into a series of four Rotex® Minerals Separators™ that separate the sand into the three product sizes (20/40 mesh, 40/70 mesh and 70/140 mesh). Each of these products is collected and conveyed into a bucket elevator and then dumped into their respective product bins. A dual product system for each of the bins provides a reasonable buffer to the loading and dispatching process. The section from the thermal dryer to the polishing screens is enclosed, and each product has a separate building.

Processing

Summary:

The system's general design criteria were developed by Norwest to support a yearround transportation and production system. Previous work completed by Norwest and other project development efforts have identified the following potential product sizes:
- 20/40 mesh;
- 40/70 mesh; and
- 70/140 mesh.

The conceptual process design was based on the hypothetical feed stock that was derived using the homogenized sample population from the geology component.

Both the Lynton receiving area and the Edson processing area are in alignment with the overall system capacity.

In general, the Lynton site functions as a receiving and trans-loading area to move the ROM sand from the mine to the processing plant in Edson.

The Edson site provides a receiving and stacking system for the ROM feed; it also has a wet plant and a dry plant, a dryer and a product dispatching system on site.

Using side dump trucks, the excavated sand will be ........

Production

CommodityProductUnitsLOM (Projected)
Frac Sand 20/40 mesh t 2,919,740
Frac Sand 70/140 mesh t 7,534,580
Frac Sand 40/70 mesh t 12,273,330

Production Costs

Commodity production costs have not been reported.

Heavy Mobile Equipment

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Personnel

Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Dec 30, 2023

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