Exploring the future of Snow Lake with Rodren Drilling

May 28, 2024

by Derek Anderson, Health & Safety Manager and Denis Desrosiers, General Manager at Rodren Drilling

As the temperatures began to drop outside in December, the heat was on in the Rodren Drilling (Rodren) shop as the team was in its final stage of preparation and planning for an extensive eight-drill winter program in Snow Lake, MB, Canada, for our good colleagues at Hudbay Minerals. Ensuring a great plan is in place for a project of this magnitude can be crucial in the overall success of the program, and with a highly skilled and experienced team of individuals working side by side, it was a plan for success right from the start.

The fleet

With the drill fleet (for this program), which included six EF-75 Discovery, one EF-100 Discovery, and one brand new Duralite 1800N, Rodren’s team was ready to tackle the eight-drill winter program up in Snow Lake, Manitoba. The seven EF Discovery drills are all drilling the Lalor mine expansion area at depths of 1200-2088 m (3937–6850 ft) all of which were skid/land-based drills. The Duralite 1800N, which drilled the winter as a skid drill and was converted to a fly drill in late March, is working in the Cook Lake area at depths from 400–1800 m (1312–5906 ft). The EF-75s have a drilling capacity of 2160 m (7087 ft) of N-size drillrod while the Duralite can drill up to 1800 m (5905 ft) N-size and the EF-100 – 3000 m (9843 ft) in N-size, allowing Rodren to offer a wide variety of services based on clients’ needs whether it be location, site access or depth.

The task

With the intention to extend the life expectancy of the Snow Lake Mine beyond 2038, this year was the kick-off to the largest-ever Snow Lake exploration program in the company’s history. Rodren’s team aim to provide a high-quality core product to Hudbay at a high rate of production while maintaining a positive and safe work environment. In turn, with the core product provided by Rodren and the guidance of Hudbay’s exploration team, both parties aim at intersecting appropriate copper/gold veins/bodies in order to expand the mine’s imprint of operations and overall longevity.

With abnormally warm temperatures through December, the winter roads were still being built and weren’t suitable for hauling heavy equipment. This was the first obstacle pushing the start of drilling to the later than anticipated January 8th, 2024 when we were able to pull the first drill onto its pad and start setting up. We then spent two weeks working with winter road builders and Hudbay personnel in getting the remaining seven drills online and coring. With the length of the drill season dependent on Mother Nature, keeping the winter roads well maintained and in safe condition was imperative to our overall success.

Hudbay team at the drill site

Our Rodren team managed to drill a total of 23 600 m (77 428 ft) at the Lalor area, which was targeted for 24 000 m (78 740 ft) and another 7298 m (23 944 ft) at Cook Lake, which was targeted for 4800 m (15 748 ft) by mid-April. A grand total of 30 898 m (101 371 ft) was drilled out of a targeted 28 800 m (94 488 ft) in the span of three months.

The team

With all eight drills up and running, Rodren had 40 employees on site and another 20 on the roster for shift-change. In order to keep the drill fleet’s down/repair time to a minimum, Rodren had a mechanic on site for the majority of the project to work with and support the drill crews. The company had their management team not only readily available, but they were on site regularly to help reinforce a positive work environment, quality assurance and safe work environment. With daily interaction and weekly Teams meetings between Hudbay and Rodren, we were able to maintain open communication and navigate any questions or concerns as they arose. This open chain of communication also allowed us to proactively plan and prepare for upcoming project tasks.

In what began as the 13th consecutive year of drilling operations for Rodren at Hudbay, both parties are now preparing to transition into a summer drilling program that will involve a smaller fleet to be comprised of a combination of heli-portable drill packages and land-based skid drills. Over the course of a 13-year relationship, Rodren takes pride and satisfaction in working hand in hand with Hudbay on building not only a safe and productive work environment but an overall positive future for all workers involved.

Rodren in conjunction with Hudbay remain committed to our continual growth and development of all aspects of business from communication, safety, quality assurance, production and the list goes on. We at Rodren Drilling remain vigilant in exploring the future of Snow Lake from the core and up.

An EF-75 rig with a centrifuge system

About Hudbay Minerals

Hudbay Minerals (TSX, NYSE: HBM) is a copper-focused mining company with three long-life operations and a world-class pipeline of copper growth projects in tier-one mining-friendly jurisdictions of Canada, Peru and the United States.

Hudbay’s operating portfolio includes the Constancia mine in Cusco (Peru), the Snow Lake operations in Manitoba (Canada) and the Copper Mountain mine in British Columbia (Canada). Copper is the primary metal produced by the company, which is complemented by meaningful gold production. Hudbay’s growth pipeline includes the Copper World project in Arizona (United States), the Mason project in Nevada (United States), the Llaguen project in La Libertad (Peru) and several expansion and exploration opportunities near its existing operations.

The value Hudbay creates and the impact it has is embodied in its purpose statement: ‘We care about our people, our communities and our planet. Hudbay provides the metals the world needs. We work sustainably, transform lives and create better futures for communities.’ Hudbay’s mission is to create sustainable value and strong returns by leveraging its core strengths in community relations, focused exploration, mine development and efficient operations.

For more information
Visit: rodrendrilling.com; hudbay.com