Historic mines in WA to be revived

With gold mining in good financial shape, some historic mines in the Kalgoorlie-Laverton-Leonora region in Western Australia are being revived or expanded.

WA’s gold rush ran between the early 1890s and early 1900s in the region, with mines such at Mount Morgans, the first major mine in the Laverton region, starting in the 1890s. Mining continued for several decades before ceasing and then being revived intermittently in the second half of the 20th century.

Dacian Gold, purchased Mount Morgans in 2012 and is set to reopen it. Construction of the $160-million project is due to start in mid-2017, with first production by mid-2018. Mining will be both open cut and underground and total gold production will exceed one million ounces over seven years.

Sons of Gwalia, near Leonora, also started in the 1890s. American mining engineer Herbert Hoover was the mine manager in 1898, later becoming US president (1929-1933).

Although mining ceased in 1963, it was revived in the 1980s, but the company involved collapsed in 2004. St Barbara later purchased the operations, which re-opened in 2008.

At 1,500m, Sons of Gwalia is one of the deepest underground mines in Australia. St Barbara plans to extend it to at least 1,800m, with options that include extending the main decline (the Hoover decline) or installing a haulage shaft. Production this year will be over 250,000 ounces.

Apart from Dacian Gold and St Barbara, gold producers in Australia enjoying the current strength of the sector include major international companies such as Newmont Mining, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Newcrest Mining; an emerging group of mid-tier companies including Northern Star Resources, Evolution Mining, and Regis Resources; and a growing number of small companies.

In 2015, Australia was the world’s second-largest gold producer, after China with WA responsible for two-thirds of Australia’s production.

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