Two branches of the Thompson River run through the ruggedly picturesque landscapes of south-central British Columbia, to meet at the eastern end of Kamloops Lake. The town of Kamloops was founded there as a fur trading post 200 years ago. Today, Kamloops is a thriving city with rich copper and gold deposits nearby.
Afton mine, situated 10 km west of Kamloops, was originally an open-pit gold and copper mine, in operation throughout the 1980s and 90s. New Gold,a Canadian mining company, acquired the mine and restarted production in 2012, now as an underground mine called New Afton. Last year, New Afton produced 64,000 ounces (some 1,800 kg) of gold and about
33,000 tons of copper.
New Gold had been using Robit’s Top Hammer (TH) tools in New Afton for years. However, in early 2019, through ownership changes at the supplier, New Afton switched to another brand of TH consumables. Over the course of the year, it became evident that the performance of the TH Tools did not meet the Mines expectations. In 2020, Ryley Renneberg and Cody
MacLeod from the Sales Division of Pinnacle Drilling Products (Pinnacle), Robit’s Canadian distributor, decided it was an opportune time to reach out to New Gold.
“We arranged an in-person meeting with New Gold’s production mine manager. We listened to their problems with their new brand of TH tooling and discussed how we might be able to help out. New Gold had been happy with Robit before and they knew the production performance well, so this really helped progress things forward. It turned out to be the start of a great relationship between Pinnacle and New Gold”, Ryley reminisces.
“We reassured we could have a seamless transition and were able to support New Gold through the ramp-up period, not to mention this pandemic situation and the global supply chain crisis.”
For Robit, the first purchase order in the spring of 2021 meant a need for a serious production ramp-up of TH tools.
Says Mikko Vuojolainen, Robit’s Vice President, North America: “It’s always a critical period when a customer switches supplier. The new supplier must be able to deliver 100% availability. In this case, our TH production lines were already fully booked so we needed to get creative. We divided the products into two groups: those we can start delivering two months post order, and those we can start delivering four months post order. It worked out perfectly.”
Since August 2021, New Afton is back to using Robit’s TH tools in their underground operations. The New Afton deal can also help propel the Pinnacle-Robit business partnership forward.
“It brings us leverage into the mining industry within North America. I believe it’s going to open many other opportunities for us to challenge the ‘big three’ in the market”, says Ryley Renneberg.
Picture: Kamloops Lake on a frosty winter day.