St Barbara is evaluating the resumption of exploration activities across its mines in Australia, Canada and Papua New Guinea, while sticking to relevant coronavirus guidelines.
The company focussed on the Gwalia gold mine extension near Leonara, Western Australia during the quarter but has postponed drilling and exploration at the Lake Wells gold project, also in Western Australia and Back Creek in New South Wales due to the pandemic.
These activities will be revisited in the 2021 financial year.
The Gwalia extension project however progressed during the March quarter, with surface infrastructure being fully integrated into site operations.
St Barbara increased underground fans, infrastructure and services to move to a conventional ventilation configuration at Gwalia and continued final raise bore ventilation shaft reaming.
This was halted by damage to the reaming head due to difficult ground conditions but has continued and is expected to be completed by the end of the June quarter.
During the March quarter, St Barbara also completed reverse circulation drilling and a regional geophysical survey at the Horse Paddock Well, not far from the Gwalia site.
The company is planning further drilling at the Jessie Alma prospect, also in the Leonora area, for the 2021 financial year.
Other Western Australian exploration activities during the March quarter included a 113-hole 5998 metre aircore drill program at the Pinjin project, testing targets for gold and arsenic.
St Barbara’s production at Gwalia dropped from the December quarter’s 42,022 ounces, to 39,684 ounces, which was attributed to fewer open stopes in the mining schedule and a five-day planned ventilation augmentation interruption.
Managing director and chief executive officer Craig Jetson acknowledged the company’s employees, families, business partner and communities to keep one another safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Whilst COVID-19 has slowed some aspects of our strategic projects, I remain excited with the opportunity for growth within St Barbara’s existing portfolio,” Jetson said.
“St Barbara’s first priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of our employees and their families. We are actively monitoring COVID-19 developments around each of our operations.”