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Classic nears final gold production hurdle at Kat Gap

Classic Minerals’ Gekko processing plant. Credit: File

Classic Minerals has pencilled in later this month to commission a new processing facility at its Kat Gap gold mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields region.

Successful commissioning will see the company clear its final hurdle to begin gold production. It says its ore is already sitting and waiting on the facility’s run-of-mine (ROM) pad as it eyes ramping up production of up to 100,000 tonnes per annum, with the ability to expand as required.

With the construction of the project’s tailings storage facility (TSF) and its processing facility nearing final sign-off, it represents a major milestone for the company, which is aiming to become WA’s next gold producer.

Classic’s wholly-owned Kat Gap has a resource of 975,722 tonnes at 2.96 grams per tonne gold for 92,856 ounces of gold. The company’s 80 per cent-owned Forrestania gold project is 50km north of Kat Gap and has additional resources of 311,050 ounces of gold at a head grade of between 1.3 and 1.4g/t gold.

Commercial gold production at the site, which sits 120km south of Southern Cross in WA’s Central Wheatbelt, is expected to be well underway next month. Classic is using a gravity circuit and cyanide processing is expected to give a gold recovery of up to 98 per cent.

Management is installing a Gecko gravity processing plant at Kat Gap in a move that is expected to recover more than 73 per cent of the metal from ore. The Gekko Inline Pressure Jig and Gekko Spinner will deliver more than 95 per cent of the liberated gold through a simple gravity process at a crush size of less than 2mm. The plant has a capacity of 100 tonnes per hour.

The remaining 27 per cent of the gold will report to the tailings for reprocessing through a standard cyanide carbon-in-leach plant at a later point in the project development. Kat Gap has been shown to have ore with high levels of gravity-extractable gold at low processing and establishment costs.

Classic holds 578 square kilometres of tenements across two mineral-rich regions in WA. The company has identified high-grade gold and base metal targets, although its recent focus has been getting the Kat Gap gold mine into production. The mine has high-grade gold in a shallow, unmined gold deposit that was first uncovered in the 1990s when the now defunct Sons of Gwalia completed a resource estimate and scoping study at the site.

In January this year, Classic released RC drilling assays from Kat Gap with high-grade gold intercepts beneath existing shallower gold mineralisation. Best results included 10m at 9.26g/t gold from 57m, including 3m going 28.3g/t gold and 6m grading 12.12g/t gold from 70m. The results extend below known resources at depth, showing the project has plenty of potential to grow.

This week, Macquarie Group analysts argued there was a “near enough perfect backdrop” for the gold price to forge a record high above the previous benchmark of US$2075 (AU$3103) that was reached in the peak of the COVID pandemic in August 2020.

The investment bank cited falling bond yields, fear over the US debt ceiling and an end to the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate tightening cycle as three key reasons why the price of the yellow metal was set to go north.

Not a bad time for Classic to start pulling more of it out of the ground.

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