In 2010, Evolution Mining identified an opportunity to fill a vacuum in the Australian gold mining sector, and went about to create a new mid-tier producer.
Its first asset was a resource in North Queensland that others believed was not feasible to develop, but undeterred, Executive Chairman and founder Jake Klein, with the assistance of a small management team, pursued a series of bold and complex deals to form the company in November 2011.
The move successfully turned that initial resource at Mt Carlton into one of the world’s highest-grade open pit gold mines.
And indeed, it’s all in the name: the company has literally evolved from a small one into a globally relevant gold mining business with a reputation of delivering value for all stakeholders. Underpinning it all is its Australian story and spirit.
Since day one, the overriding priority has been safety.
Mr Klein said the miner dared its people to think differently, to act like owners, and to live values of safety, accountability, excellence and respect.
“We want people’s time at Evolution to be a highlight of their career, forging a company that’s known for sustainable excellence, and attracting the best talent, not only to Evolution, but also to our industry,” he said.
“We’ve weathered storms to become a company that prospers through the cycle.
“We’ve stayed true to our vision and become a global leader in low-cost gold production.
“We recognise that along our journey comes change. Embracing technology and innovation are important for our future success, and sustainability is more critical than ever.
“As we grow, we want to continue to combine ambition and our entrepreneurial mindset with humility.
“We want our people and our communities to grow as we grow. And we believe that together, we can become the best mid-tier gold mining company in the world.”
Mr Klein said Evolution has a strong platform of high-quality assets with an average reserve life of about 10 years.
“All assets are located in the safe jurisdiction of Australia with a highly skilled workforce, and in an attractive operating environment,” he said.
“Our balance sheet is strong, our assets are generating substantial cash flow and our business is now well positioned to prosper from the current gold price environment and through the cycle.”
Evolution employs a clear and consistent strategy based on:
- A portfolio of six to eight assets generating superior returns with an average mine life of at least 10 years
- Building a reputation for sustainability, reliability and transparency
- Embedding financial discipline across the business
- Running an active pipeline of quality exploration and development projects
- Remaining open to all quality gold, silver and copper-gold value accretive investments
Evolution is committed to organic growth by discovery of new resources at existing operations and across its portfolio of greenfield projects.
The discovery strategy focuses on finding epithermal (low, intermediate and high sulphidation) deposits and orogenic lode gold deposits.
In the epithermal category, it searches for high sulphidation deposits like Mt Carlton, intermediate sulfidation deposits like Cowal and low sulfidation deposits like Cracow.
In the orogenic lode gold category, it explores for deposit styles typically mined in the Yilgarn Craton in WA.
Evolution is also developing a pipeline of exploration projects in Queensland between Cracow and Mt Carlton.
“We recognise a key to our success will be our ability to leverage external partnerships,” Mr Klein said.
“As a result, we are partnering with groups who have superior geological knowledge of and access to areas prospective for the types of mineral deposit we want to find.
“We plan to invest between $80m and $105m on Discovery programs in FY20.
“Our largest Discovery investments will be made at Cowal with a budget between $50m and $60m, and Mungari with a budget of between $15m and $20m.”
The Cowal gold operation is a world-class, open pit gold operation located 350km west of Sydney, situated within the Bland, Lachlan and Forbes Shires on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri People.
Mining approval has been granted until at least 2032, providing scope to capture additional upside.
Cowal had another great year in FY19, during which the operation was granted regulatory approval to increase the plant processing rate by 31% from 7.5mtpa to 9.8mtpa.
The Cowal operating team successfully commissioned the Float Tails Leach (FTL) circuit, upgraded the SAG Mill gearless motor drive, commenced the Warraga underground exploration decline and the Evolution Board approved the Integrated Waste Landfill improvements on the tailings storage cacility.
Total FY19 gold production of 251,500oz was above guidance of 240,000–250,000oz.
Full year mine operating cash flow was $232.1m.
The FY20 guidance is for 255,000–265,000oz at an AISC of $930–$980/oz.
Evolution firmly believes that Cowal is a long-life, low-cost asset that will be a cornerstone of the business for many years to come.
- Mt Carlton: The Mt Carlton operation is located 150km south of Townsville, on the traditional lands of the Birriah People.
At Mt Carlton, Evolution developed the expertise to commercialise a refractory, non-oxidised, high-sulphidation epithermal deposit, a sound example of thinking differently to unlock a previously uneconomic deposit.
The operation was developed by Evolution and commissioned in 2013. It is now a core asset and one of the highest-grade open pit gold mines in the world.
The operation has a current mine life out to 2025.
The development of an underground mine from within the open pit was approved in FY19 and its development will be the next significant milestone for the operation.
Mt Carlton produced more than 100koz of gold for the third year in a row with FY19 production of 106,646oz, an impressive achievement considering the operation had to manage through a significant rain event which shut operations and restricted site access for over 30 days during the third quarter.
Despite these challenges, Mt Carlton exceeded the top end of the 95,000–105,000oz guidance range, while an AISC of $737/oz was slightly above the top end of the $670–$720/oz guidance.
During the year Evolution achieved a world first by trialling an online gold analysis (OLGA) technology developed by the CSIRO, which gives the processing team the ability to adjust processing parameters effectively, in real time, with the
effect of reducing losses to tailings.
Mt Carlton also produced the gold for the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup.
- Ernest Henry: Meanwhile, at Cloncurry, Evolution acquired an economic interest in the Glencore-run Ernest Henry mine, that will deliver 100% of future gold and 30% of future copper and silver produced within an agreed life-of-mine area.
Outside this area, Evolution will have a 49% interest in future copper, gold and silver revenue from Ernest Henry.
The Ernest Henry transaction has materially improved the quality and longevity of the Group’s portfolio and reduced the cost profile.
The FY20 guidance is for 87,500–92,500oz at an AISC of
- Mt Rawdon: The Mt Rawdon open pit gold operation is located 75km south-west of Bundaberg, and is surrounded by the traditional lands of the people who make up the Port Curtis Coral Coast native title claim group.
Mt Rawdon has produced more than 50t of gold since the mine began operating in 2011, and is a reliable contributor to group production over the last eight years.
The FY20 guidance is for 90,000–100,000oz at an AISC of $1210–$1260/oz.
The Mungari gold operation is located 600km east of Perth and 20km west of Kalgoorlie in WA.
The operation is a key asset in Evolution’s portfolio and consists of underground mining at Frog’s Leg, open pit mining at White Foil, a large regional tenement package hosting a total Mineral Resource of 2.5moz, and a strategically located 1.6mtpa nameplate processing plant.
Mungari managed to achieve a credible result in FY19 despite having to navigate through several significant unplanned events.
Total FY19 gold production of 120,535oz was below the bottom end of the 125,000–135,000oz guidance range, predominantly due to a major seismic event in 2018 which led to a redesign of the underground stope access to allow mining to continue safely.
FY20 guidance is for 115,000–125,000oz at an AISC of $1230 – $1280/oz.
The operation has a major footprint in the world-class Kalgoorlie gold district with opportunities for high-grade discoveries to expand production and lower costs.
The operation currently has a 10-year mine plan and work has
commenced to improve the cost position of this operation to deliver a long-term value by unlocking the large resources base most effectively.