Tropicana JV to boost production, extend mine life with $46m expansion

The Tropicana operation. Image: AngloGold Ashanti

Joint venture partners AngloGold Ashanti and Independence Group have unveiled a $46 million plan to lift production and extend the life of the Tropicana gold mine in Western Australia.

The miners have approved phase one of the Long Island mining strategy at the Eastern Goldfields operation.

Long Island will involve a strip-mining approach that minimises waste haulage distances by using in-pit backfill rather than trucking the material long distances to surface waste dumps.

The project is expected to add 2.1 million ounces (Moz) to the Tropicana business plan, extending mine life by around seven years to 2027 and increasing production to at least 530,000 ounces by 2019.

A 6MW ball mill will also be installed in the Tropicana processing plant, enabling throughput to be matched by the increased mining rate and improving gold recovery by 3 per cent to around 92 per cent.

The Long Island strategy is estimated to cost $18 million, while the ball mill installation will be worth $28 million. The expansion is scheduled for completion during 2018.

“This project is in line with our approach of developing cost-effective brownfield projects with attractive payback periods that extend life and improve margins,” AngloGold’s Australian senior vice president Michael Erickson said.

“The project validates the innovative ideas developed by our site team and technical specialists, and also gives us an excellent base from which we can investigate adding additional value through underground mining opportunities and regional exploration.”

The JV has forecast gold production at Tropicana to reach between 478,000oz-492,000oz next year, before rising to between 530,000oz-548,000oz in 2019.

Independence managing director Peter Bradford said the accelerated mining strategy deployed in the 2017 calendar year at Tropicana should deliver elevated gold production rates for the next two years.

“The Long Island mining strategy, which is now approved as part of the joint venture 2018 business plan, has delivered an ore reserve of 4.08Moz and extended the life-of-mine through to the 2027 calendar year,” Bradford said.

South Africa’s AngloGold owns 70 per cent of Tropicana, with Independence holding the remaining 30 per cent.