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Mining for gold in the Scottish Highlands

What is the project you are doing?

We are Scotland’s first commercial gold mine, situated in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Historically Lead miners worked here, if they had only mined a little to the right they would have found a much richer vein! Since gold was discovered in the 1980’s several smaller mining companies have worked the vein until Scotgold took over in 2007. A long process of feasibility, planning and development followed until the first concentrate was produced in 2020. We are now ramping up production and will begin ‘stoping’ in the near future. This means the underground development is ramping up with foot wall drives, ramps to different levels, ore passes, cross cuts, drill programs…. All requiring accurate survey control and mark out.

See or search ‘Gold Town’ on iPlayer for a three-part documentary on the early days of Scotgold at Cononish.

How did GeoMax kit help you to get it done - and was there anything interesting you could share about the process?

We are using the GeoMax Zoom95 for the underground survey. There are very few ‘hard rock mines’ in the UK and few surveyors are familiar with the processes. Sure, many would have a go, but the days of hanging plumb bobs from ‘roof’ stations are pretty much behind us. The norm in hard rock mining is to use control points along each wall of the drives so accurate resection is important. With the Zoom95 and three or four prisms I am meeting accuracies of less than +/- 1mm. The laser pointer and reflectorless measurement allow quick advance pick-ups so as not to delay drilling and avoid going under unsupported ground. The COGO - Reference Line option in the X-Pad software allows me to take a design line, add an offset and set out the grade lines and the lasers we use for direction. The power search is also invaluable in the dark!

Additionally, we have the surface work to do. We keep accurate records of the ROM pad volumes (Run of Mine – Stockpiles) and control the construction of the tailings (waste) facilities. Being in the National Park this is crucial. We are using the waste to construct small natural looking ‘Drumlins’ which are typical of the glacial valleys we are situated in. Because of the location GNSS requires a base or booster signal – Muneer can say a few words here about options…

Why did you choose GeoMax in the first place (apart from Muneer’s charm obvs!) and would you recommend the kit to others?

Muneer first supplied survey equipment to me around 20 years ago. When he moved to GeoMax/Survey Hire I was just starting with a new company and needed kit. GeoMax kit gives me all the options to do what I need to do, the Hexagon pedigree with R&D is a bonus, the supporting software is user friendly, the price is right (considerably more economic than others) and most importantly the service and support from Muneer and the team are beyond excellent. This is the fourth project I have worked on with GeoMax, the third I have been responsible for the purchase. It goes without saying I would recommend GeoMax.

What’s next for ScotGold Resources?

Life of mine is nine to ten years. Scotgold has potential for further underground exploration and several potential regional targets.

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