Joint venture partners AngloGold Ashanti and IGO have achieved commercial production at the Boston Shaker underground mine at the Tropicana gold operation in Western Australia below budget.
The first production stope was fired in June, with underground mining now reaching a rate of 700,000 tonnes a year.
The JV plans to ramp up production to 1.1 million tonnes a year by March next year, in line with its design rate. Boston Shaker is expected to contribute around 100,000 ounces of gold a year once this has been achieved.
“Underground mining at Boston Shaker will leverage further value from this high performing operation, achieving payback in just over three years with upside potential as the deposit remains open at depth,” AngloGold Ashanti senior vice president Australia Michael Erickson said.
“The underground mine will contribute higher grade mill feed from the current quarter onwards, improving the gold production profile and enhancing cash flow during calendar 2021-2013 when the mine plan includes periods of higher waste stripping in the Havana open pit.”
IGO managing director Peter Bradford added: “We are confident that the success achieved at Boston Shaker will serve as a template for the potential development of additional underground mines at Tropicana over the coming years.”
The JV has continued its work in extending Boston Shaker’s underground potential, with diamond drilling scheduled for the December quarter ahead of a decision to mine next year.
It is pursuing the next cutback of the Havana pit, which will allow access to the deeper Havana open pit ore from 2022 onwards.
AngloGold Ashanti stated that studies were being completed on the Havana stage three open pit cutback and underground to determine the optimal open pit.
The Tropicana operation is managed by AngloGold Ashanti, which owns a 70 per cent interest.
IGO flagged that it might let go of its 30 per cent stake in the Tropicana mine last week as its value wasn’t reflected in the company share price.