Evolution Mining has received approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) to increase the Cowal gold operation’s processing rate by 31 per cent.
The plant processing rate will increase from 7.5 million tonnes per year (Mt/y) to 9.8Mt/y, and involves the installation of a secondary crushing circuit at the plant.
The expansion will require an estimated capital expenditure of $40-45 million. This includes the development of an integrated waste landform to facilitate storage of tailings over the life of mine. Cowal has an extended mine life through to 2024.
Evolution executive chairman Jake Klein said, “This approval is a significant step towards achieving our objective of increasing Cowal’s annual production rate to over 300,000 ounces per annum.
“We have been extremely pleased with the efficiency and thoroughness of the approval process for this modification, and acknowledge the role of the Bland, Forbes and Lachlan Shire councils as well as the NSW State Government.”
Evolution was granted an approval sooner than expected, following the submission of its modification application and environmental assessment (EA) to the DP&E in March this year.
The EA provided detailed measures that would be implemented to mitigate potential environmental impacts of the increase in processing rate.
It involved consultations with leading environmental and technical consultants, as well as members of the local community and local and state government agencies.
The project sits on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri People, 350km west of Sydney.
Evolution received no objections from any regulatory agencies but reported a 95 per cent support for its proposed modifications from the community.
Detailed feasibility studies are being finalised, and internal approvals for Cowal’s expansion may be brought sooner to the March 2019 quarter.
The Cowal project was acquired from Barrick Gold in 2015.