THE decision to process low grade stockpiles will see Australia’s largest open pit gold operation continue to process gold until 2029.
Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) previously expected to continue mining the Kalgoorlie Super Pit until 2019 and processing gold until 2021. However in 2012 the stockpiles were deemed a mining reserve in accordance with NI43-101
standards, allowing the processing of ore to continue for an additional eight years.
“While current plans have us stopping open pit mining in 2019, processing the low grade stockpiles has now become part of our long-term plan,” KCGM general manger Russell Cole said.
“The inclusion of the stockpiles means KCGM currently plans to process gold until 2029. Of course this may change as the economical viability of any project can fluctuate due to external factors such as gold price, taxes, labour costs and so on.”
The Kalgoorlie Super Pit produces up to 800,000oz of gold per year, far outweighing any other open pit gold mine in Australia. KCGM reported that it would continue to look for opportunities to extend the mine life even further.
“It is important for the community to understand that while KCGM endeavours to extend the life of the operations, gold price is variable and economically viable mineral resources are finite, and one day the mine will close,” Mr Russell said.
“Providing a nominal date for mine closure ensures that adequate planning is undertaken by the operation, government and community to minimise potential impacts.”
As part of its 2013 Life of Mine Plan, KCGM approached the WA Government regarding the approvals process for key projects, the most significant of which will see the two roasters at Gidji close. The projects include increasing the capacity of tailings
storage facilities and upgrades at Fimiston and Gidji to reduce air emissions. “KCGM is committed to continually improving the way we operate and this includes our environmental management,” Mr Russell said.
“The two roasters at Gidji are scheduled to cease operating by the end of 2015, and will be replaced with a large Ultra Fine Grinding mill.”
KCGM did not foresee any jobs being lost as a result of the changeover.