AngloGold Ashanti and Independence have begun the commissioning stage of the highly prospective Tropicana gold project, and expect first gold next month.
The mine has been on the radar of many analysts for some time now, after the joint venture partners announced in December last year that they had upped the total estimated resource to 7.89 million ounces of gold.
Commissioning is already underway, with the tailings facility completed and an operating team mobilised on site.
AngloGold's executive vice president: Australia, group planning & technical, Graham Ehm, explained that "Tropicana is a significant new, low-cost mine in an emerging gold province and will improve the quality of AngloGold Ashanti (and Independence Group's) portfolio; we continue to make good progress with out partners on a project we've taken up the value curve, from discovery to commissioning".
Tropicana itself is located 300 kilometres northeast of Kalgoorlie, and was originally forecast to begin production in December this year, but with commissioning already underway ramp up has now been moved forward to occur in the December quarter.
Despite moving ahead of schedule the estimated capital expenditure for the project is unchanged at between $820 and $845 million.
It is aiming at a production rate of between 470 000 to 490 000 ounces in the first three years.
The operation is split 30/ 70 between Independence and AngloGold respectively.