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Westgold eyes expansion at Mid West underground gold mine

Updated: May 2

Westgold Resources has recorded impressive hits from drilling at its Bluebird underground gold mine. Credit: File

Westgold Resources says the latest exploration results at its Bluebird underground gold mine near Meekatharra in WA’s Mid West region warrant the expansion of the operation including a third decline.

Management believes developing an additional decline could potentially increase steady-state underground production at Bluebird and South Junction up to about 750,000 tonnes per annum at between 4g/t and 5g/t gold.

The company delivered some impressive numbers in its latest drill campaign including 35.31m at 5.71 grams per tonne gold from 282m, 42m going 4.55g/t gold from 334m and 23.68m grading an impressive 12.63g/t gold. It currently has one surface and three underground drill rigs operating at the site, with a second surface rig mobilising to site to add to the ongoing expansion program.

In 2019, Westgold recommenced development at Bluebird, designing a shallow underground mine that targeted production of about 250,000 tonnes per year at 3g/t gold.

Since 2022, infill and exploration drilling has expanded the original Bluebird underground mine footprint with current production rates almost double the 2019 figures after reaching around 500,000 tonnes per annum at a grade of about 4.5g/t gold.

That figure has the potential to lift to about 750,000 tonnes per annum at between 4g/t and 5g/t gold with the addition of a third decline at Bluebird and South Junction.

The underground mine has been developed 200m below the Bluebird open pit along a strike of 600m. Notably, management says the full extent of the mineralisation has not yet been closed off along strike or at depth.

Westgold has already kicked off drilling to the south and below the current Bluebird mine to infill drill the known extent of the South Junction orebody.

The company is aiming to grow the operation’s ore reserves and finale the location for a new portal into the South Junction orebody. The latest drill campaign is also designed to define the optimum location for a third decline to access the South Junction orebody with design work already underway.

Shallow drilling to date has doubled Bluebird underground’s output to ≈500,000 tpa @ 4-5g/t Au and increased mine life to +3 years. The broader Bluebird trend is ≈7km long and has seen little deep drilling from any of its owners. The planned programmes will explore potential extensions, increase Bluebird’s Reserves and ultimately further expand mine output by enabling the development of a third decline into South Junction during this calendar year. Westgold Resources managing director Wayne Bramwell

Bluebird and the smaller Paddy’s Flat underground mine at Meekatharra are the two primary ore sources feeding Westgold’s 1.6 to 1.8 million tonne per annum Bluebird processing plant. Historically, the two mines have produced more than a million gold ounces from shallow open pits and small-scale underground workings.

Open pit surface stockpiles and supplementary ore from the company’s Cue operations are also trucked to Bluebird to maintain processing throughputs.

Earlier this month the company recorded its fourth consecutive quarter of positive cash build, lifting its cash, bullion and liquid assets by $21 million to close the first half of the financial year with $238 million in the bank.

The company produced 59,238 gold ounces from its operations during the December quarter and sold its gold at a remarkable average price of $3041 per ounce. The company remains debt free, unhedged and on track to deliver its financial year production guidance of between 245,000 and 265,000 ounces, according to management.

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