St Barbara prepares Gwalia comeback

The Gwalia mine is three kilometres south of the town of Leonora, Western Australia. Image: St Barbara

St Barbara is plotting a strategy to increase production at the Gwalia gold mine in Western Australia after output fell in 2020 due to a series of challenges.

St Barbara declared an operational profit of around $17 million from the Leonora operation last year, a decline of 133 per cent from 2019.

The company produced around 64,000 ounces of gold at Gwalia in the second half of last year, compared with around 80,000 ounces in the prior corresponding period.

The lower production boosted St Barbara’s all-in sustaining cost at Leonora from $1513 per ounce to $1933 per ounce in the same period.

St Barbara noted this was the impact of a seismic event that led to the closure of the Gwalia decline last year.

The company also delivered a “planned prioritisation of mine development” to prepare the Gwalia mine for production during the first half of this year.

St Barbara managing director Craig Jetson said the company was in a strong financial position that afforded it the opportunity to support growth projects across all three of its operating jurisdictions.

The company is evaluating the sulphide mineralisation found below the oxide pits on the Simberi mine in Papua New Guinea.

St Barbara’s shift from processing transitional oxide to sulphide ore led to a lower recovery at Simberi duringx the second half of last year.

“In the coming months, we will provide an update on the sulphide feasibility study at Simberi, the Leonora province plan and submit environmental impact statements for Atlantic Gold’s growth projects,” Jetson said.

St Barbara delivered record production of nearly 54,000 ounces at Atlantic Gold during the half year.

The company gave credits to the continuous improvements in the processing plant, which subsequently increased the mill throughput.

St Barbara is conducting resource drilling near mine areas at Atlantic Gold and the surrounding Nova Scotia region.

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