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21 August 2020
The new owners of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s Super Pit say operations will continue until at least 2035 and the employment of up to 100 new workers has started as one of Australia’s biggest gold mines ramps up production again.
Those were the big headlines today after the mine’s co-owners Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings revealed the result of a six-month strategic assessment.
The Perth-based partners last year paid a collective $2.2 billion to purchase 50 per cent stakes in the Super Pit, putting the mine under Australian ownership for the first time in its 30-year history.
The planned review showed exploration drilling discovered substantial new reserves — now sitting around 9.7 million ounces with an in-ground value of more than $26 billion at today’s gold price — which will expand the mine life for another 15 years.
The Super Pit runs along the historic Golden Mile, once thought to be the richest square mile on Earth.
Northern Star Resources chairman Bill Beament said the area continued to live up to its name.
“I think people forget it’s not actually one mile, it’s two miles. It should be called the Golden Two Mile,” he said.
“It is a big system and it’s very wide. We’ve drilled down to around 2 kilometres.
“It’s been mined for 125 years and today’s announcement shows it’s going to be operating for a long time.”
At almost 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5km wide and 600 metres deep, the Super Pit is so large it is visible from space.
The strategic review released today revealed the mine’s annual output is projected to rise to above 675,000 ounces from the 2027-28 financial year, up from 465,000 ounces last financial year.
It discussed preparations to remediate the pit’s eastern wall, which suffered a significant rock fall in May 2018, by pushing back the wall by up to 100 metres over the next three years.
The Fimiston South expansion, which will be the single biggest cutback at the Super Pit in 10 years, has also been approved at the southern end with 850 million tonnes of material to be moved over 12 years.
The joint venture partners are also adding to the existing mining fleet with a 300-tonne excavator recently mobilised on site, and a new shovel and four 240-tonne trucks scheduled for delivery this financial year.
Mr Beament said the employment of up to 100 new workers would take the mine’s workforce beyond 1,300, adding that this year’s record gold prices have resulted in a “jobs bonanza” in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“I think the headline is this visibility really underwrites the Super Pit and that operation, and probably to a degree the town of Kalgoorlie, for a number of years,” Mr Beament said.
“This provides all the stakeholders, suppliers, and workers in Kalgoorlie with a real shot in the arm at a time when we all really need it.”
The new owners will also spend $10 million creating multiple underground portals inside the pit to access an estimated 2.2 million ounces of gold left behind by the old-time miners.
A century of mining on the Golden Mile left more than 3,500 kilometres of historical underground tunnels and shafts — the equivalent of travelling from Perth to Sydney.
Drilling has now confirmed high-grade gold exists below the deepest historical workings, about 1,400 metres below the surface.