Resolute Mining has commenced an upgrade of the Ravenswood gold mine in Queensland that has been designed to deliver a significant boost to the site’s processing capacity.
For stage one of the project, the Ravenswood expansion includes the recommissioning of the third grinding mill at the Nolan processing plant, which will return processing rates to five million tonnes per annum.
The three existing mills at Ravenswood were operational up until 2011 at this rate.
Following the suspension of open pit mining at Ravenswood’s Sarsfield deposit however, the Nolans processing plant was de-rated to 1.5 million tonnes per annum to exclusively process higher-grade ore from the Mt Wright underground mine.
Resolute has started recommissioning of the third mill, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.
The increase in processing capacity will allow Resolute to process greater volumes of low-grade material that has been stockpiled during open pit operations at Sarsfield.
Resolute’s stockpiled material currently includes an inferred mineral resource of 32.6 million tonnes at 0.4 grams per tonne of gold for 390,000 ounces.
It plans to beneficiate the material via a combination of contract crushing. Screening is also expected to result in an uplift in head grades to 0.5-0.6 grams per tonne and annual production to approximately 80,000 ounces, at an all-in sustaining cost of $1600 an ounce from the end of this year.
Resolute chief executive officer John Welborn highlighted the importance of the increase in processing capacity at Ravenswood and the implications of beneficiation on the potential for larger scale production over a long mine life.
“Increasing the plant capacity at Ravenswood to its historical rate of five million tonnes per annum and using this capacity to process available low-grade stockpiles, will deliver an immediately cashflow positive, profitable mining operation at Ravenswood,” Welborn said.
“As a result, this solution allows Resolute to focus on the ultimate transformation of Ravenswood into a large scale, low cost Tier 1 Australian gold mining operation with an exceptionally long mine life.”
Resolute also recently announced an increase of one million ounces of gold in ore reserves at Ravenswood.
With almost three million ounces of gold in ore reserves, the company stated it was now directing its ongoing study work to focus on an optimised expansion project that could produce 200,000 ounces annually over a 15-year mine life.