For the historic mining town of Wiluna in the outback of Western Australia, Remembrance Day 2016 was truly a memorable day that marked the rejuvenation of the town. Friday 11 November 2016 marked the official opening of the Blackham Resources’ Matilda gold mine and the recommencement of gold production at Blackham’s Wiluna gold plant. The re-opening of the Wiluna gold plant was officiated by the WA Minister for Mines the Hon. Sean L’Strange MLA.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Blackham managing director Bryan Dixon paid tribute to the team of employees, service providers, contractors, advisors and local community representatives who worked so hard to bring the project to life.
“As Western’s Australia’s newest gold producer, Blackham Resources is proud to have brought mining back to this magnificent and historic outback mining town. We’ve injected new life, new investment and new employment and training opportunities into the local community and we aim to make a long-term positive contribution that will benefit the local community for many years to come.
We’ve injected new life, new investment and new employment and training opportunities into the local community.
“Developing a new gold mining operation in Western Australia isn’t quick, easy or simple. It takes lots of money, lots of patience and many years of hard work by many hundreds of talented people to get to this point. I wanted to use this occasion to publicly acknowledge and thank all of those people,” Dixon said.
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Even before the first gold pour at Wiluna, Blackham has announced plans to significantly increase gold production at Wiluna, and has already commenced studies to expand the plant refurbish the sulphide circuit and grow the open pit and underground mine plan and reserves.
Blackham’s plan is to expand its open pit mining operations and increase the resource base of the project, while expanding the plant capacity from 175,000 ozpa to 200,000 – 230,000 ozpa. Such plans can only be made with confidence in the ability to convert resources into reserves and expand the mine life of the project. Blackham believes it can do both.
The Matilda gold project currently has a total resource of 48Mt (million tonnes) grading at 3.3g/t gold for 5.1 million ounces of gold (moz), and measured and indicated resources of 22mt grading 3.4g/t gold for 2.4moz.
With a regional endowment of over 40moz of gold across a land package of 780sq km, Blackham has already identified additional extensions to its open pit mining operations either along strike or directly underneath existing pits. These results combined with successful underground mineralisation extensions at the Bulletin mine have the potential to add significant additional mine feed to an expanded plant, and extend the mine life of the project.
Blackham is estimating an eight year plus mine life across the four known gold systems that have been identified, but the company remains confident that further exploration will prove up new orebodies for both underground and open pit mining.
“We are now in production and our focus is on ramping the plant up to full production capacity and keeping a very close eye on our costs. I suspect the market is watching us closely and will be looking at our December and March quarter reports for signs that we’ve bedded down the operation and are producing gold in line with expectations,” Dixon said.
“While our operational staff are focused on gold production and keeping a lid on costs, our project expansion team and our exploration team will be working together to grow our resources base, extend our mine life and increase the production capacity of the plant.”