Blackham Resources has identified potential to more than double gold production at the Matilda/Wiluna gold operation in Western Australia.
The Perth-based company has completed a preliminary expansion study at the operation, revealing that a staged expansion of Matilda/Wiluna would provide the flexibility to treat both oxide and sulphide ores.
It also identified a low-risk staged approach to development and capex over an 18-month period that would see gold production ramped up to more than 200,000 ounces a year (oz/y) by the 2020 financial year. The production capacity at the site is currently around 98,000oz/y.
According to Blackham, the study focused on the Wiluna sulphides and their integration with the current free milling ore at the operation.
The company outlined a two-stage expansion: 2A would be refurbishment of the current sulphide treatment plant and the construction of a new float and carbon-in-leach circuits, while 2B would be the construction of a new crushing and grinding circuit to increase throughput by about 1.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).
Blackham managing director Bryan Dixon said the Wiluna expansion plan aimed to achieve a step change in gold production from the 6.4 million ounce (Moz) operation in the state’s Mid West region.
“The preliminary expansion study has confirmed gold production of 200,000oz/y is achievable on a very capital efficient basis and is likely to be a long mine life,” Dixon said.
“By undertaking a staged development approach the company expects to maintain a strong balance sheet during stage 2A refurbishment and construction plus on the completion of Stage 2B run the sulphide and oxide circuits in parallel providing one of Western Australian’s most flexible gold processing facilities.”
Blackham relaunched production at Matilda/Wiluna in October 2016. The operation’s 63Mt at 3.2grams a tonne for 6.4Moz gold resource is all located within a 20km radius of the Wiluna processing plant.