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Resource upgrade as Westgold Resources looks to restart iconic mine

Updated: May 2

Westgold Resources is increasing the gold resource at its Great Fingall deposit. Credit: File

Westgold has upped the mineral resource at its Great Fingall gold deposit in Western Australia’s Murchison region by 49 per cent, paving the way to potentially restart mining at the iconic historical mine – with a final investment decision now expected next quarter.

The initial resource estimate for Great Fingall was that it contained 304,000 ounces of gold. However, after some handy work with the drillbit, Westgold has now upgraded its estimate to 4.3 million tonnes grading 4.3 grams per tonne for 588,000 ounces of gold.

The upgrade comes as the precious yellow metal is tipped by some critics to surpass all-time highs in the months ahead.

The Great Fingall project ­– one of just three multi-million-ounce historic producing mines within Westgold’s portfolio – has seen significant production over the years. Since the late 1800s, a massive 1.55 million ounces of gold has been mined across the project’s Golden Crown and Great Fingall underground mines.

The company started its Fingall Deeps drilling program in October last year, testing a 200m-by-200m panel of mineralisation beneath the existing mineral resource. The deep drilling successfully returned high-grade intercepts and defined twin parallel reefs. The twin reefs suggested the then-current geological model, which was largely informed by 1980s-era drilling, required revision.

The revised geological model now shows the Fingall Reef splitting into two parallel reefs – Upper Fingall and Lower Fingall – resulting in an enhanced ounce-per-vertical-metre profile and more flexibility in mine design and scheduling.

The updated resource comes on the back of Westgold’s latest drilling results, as announced last week, along with the revised geological modelling of the deposit. While a 49 per cent mineral resource estimate uplift is quite the result, management reckons there is even more upside to come at Great Fingall.

Specifically, Westgold points to the potential of the largely-untested flat structures that were exploited in the historic Great Fingall open pit and the high-grade Golden Crown system, separated by about 700m along the Great Fingall Dolerite.

Westgold is confident there is more upside at Great Fingall, as to date we have only focused on the better defined and therefore lower execution risk extensions to the known Great Fingall Reef. Drilling success across all our asset suite is beginning to change external perceptions about our Murchison land holdings as being a mature, well-understood gold belt with limited potential to surprise. From Westgold’s internal lens, we see a highly endowed gold province that is under-explored and has been unloved for more than twenty years. Westgold Resources managing director Wayne Bramwell

With its updated mineral resource estimate in hand, Westgold is now evaluating whether it will restart mining operations at Great Fingall. The company plans to mobilise two drill rigs in the coming weeks to undertake a final program, with clearly-defined geological triggers that will allow for a final investment decision (FID) on restarting the mine.

If all goes to plan, Westgold remains on track to make that decision in the next financial quarter. It will provide a much clearer view of what the future holds for this iconic historical high-grade gold mine.

The company notes that it has surplus underground fleet ready to rapidly deploy, so pending a positive FID, it could start development at Great Fingall, kicking off with decline development, in a big hurry.

It is often said that grade is king and with 1.2m ounces mined from the historic Great Fingall deposit at the start of the century – at an eye-watering 19.5g/t gold – this is one deposit that does not appear to be struggling for quality.

And it seems some of that lucrative grade might still be kicking around at the site, with Westgold recently tabling a 3.5m intersection going 45.15g/t gold, some 200m below the base of the current mine plan.

A bit more of that would be nice.

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