Last week Resolution Copper hosted their August forum, which is part of their annual series of summer forums. This forum was probably one of their more informative and interactive forums hosted thus far, as the company was able to open their core handling facility to the public and provide a step by step tour on the processes at the core handling facility.
The facility which is located in the Superior Industrial Park at the west end of town used to be the home of Superior Marble which vacated the property several years ago. Resolution Copper purchased the facility a few years ago and remodeled it as needed to accommodate both the studying of the core and long term storage of each core sample.
When the core samples are removed from the drilling sites at the east plant (number 9) they travel to the core handling facility in truck where they are carefully packed into padded carriers. Once they arrive at the facility in Superior, they are logged into a spreadsheet and then put onto a custom v shaped tray that allow the geologists at the facility to easily find the core that will need to be studied.
The geologists are studying the core for two reasons, one of course is to evaluate the minerals of each core and determine the grade of copper in the samples. The second reason the core is studied is to assist with the overall development of the mine. The core samples help to determine how the ore and geography will react to overall construction and operations of the mine, specifically the samples will help to determine how the land will react to the block cave mining method.
Geologists still use the traditional acid and scratch testing of the core samples, but new technologies such as heating and high powered microscopes also give deeper insight into the core samples. Those who attended the forums had the opportunity to view some of the acid and pressure testing and they also had a chance to see how the core is cut to further study. One of the diamond saws used are specialized saws custom made in Austraila.
Following the testing and sawing stations guests were taken to see how once the data is collected it is logged into computers for further study.
The public open house of the core facility was a rare occurrence due to Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) regulations which limit visits without full protective attire such as hard hats, safety jackets, eye and ear protections. About a dozen geology students from Arizona State University attended as well as many visitors from Kearny, Globe, Miami and the Mesa area.
The final summer forum is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2014 at the Superior Junior Senior High Multipurpose Room at 6 p.m. The topic of discussion has not been advertised as of press time.