Newcrest Mining has overcome drought and bushfires across New South Wales, with the Cadia mine reaching its second highest quarterly gold production with 240,000 ounces in the December period.
Production at Cadia, however, may feel the drought impact through to the end of 2020 if rainfall remains at one-in-100-year lows, as it has for the past two years.
But no impact is expected on Cadia’s production if rainfall is at, or above, the bottom quartile of historical levels for the rest of the year.
Newcrest has implemented water saving efficiency measures at Cadia such as using on-site bores and other alternative water sources, while pursuing further water saving initiatives.
While the bushfire had “no direct impact” on operations, its damage to train lines has delayed the transport of Cadia’s concentrate, increasing stocks at the Blayney dewatering facility.
Newcrest plans to clear the concentrate stocks during the March quarter as additional trains have been scheduled.
Company managing director and chief executive Sandeep Biswas described Cadia’s performance as a “stand-out” as the site achieved its second highest quarterly gold production result.
This followed two planned shutdowns and SAG mill motor maintenance at Cadia during the September quarter.
As a whole, Newcrest’s gold production was up 8 per cent from the September period with 551,000 ounces, and copper production jumped 52 per cent to 38,000 tonnes.
Newcrest is also working to increase the capacity of Cadia Hill’s open pit tailings storage facility (OPTSF), following an approval for this modification in December.
Construction is expected to start during the June quarter.
“Telfer and Lihir’s production outcomes for the half year were below expectation and corrective action plans are being put in place with the objective of improving their performance over the next six months,” Biswas added.
Newcrest also continued its exploration drilling throughout the December quarter at the Havieron project, 45 kilometres east of the Telfer mine.
Drilling results included 14.6 metres at 9.1 grams per tonne of gold and 0.48 per cent copper.
“These results at Havieron signal real potential,” Biswas said. “The grades we are seeing are unique for this region and we are excited to progress and accelerate our evaluation of this opportunity.”
Newcrest plans to drill another 20,000 to 30,000 metres in the next two quarters to explore the project’s further potential and support a resource estimate by the end of the year.