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Westgold records mammoth gold hit at Starlight deposit

Updated: May 2

A grab sample from Westgold Resources’ Nightfall orebody showing visible gold. Credit: File

An operational reset at Westgold Resources’ Starlight deposit in WA’s Mid West region has paid big dividends with more gold ounces than expected and grade control drilling recording an extraordinary 10.1m hit at a whopping 443.74 grams per tonne.

The company says the update from its Bryah operation shows a 4 per cent increase in reconciled gold ounces and a 127 per cent jump for its mine cashflow. The headline gold hit from its Nightfall orebody also includes a 0.27m intercept registering an astounding 16,031g/t gold.

In January, Westgold revealed that its planned reset at the Starlight mine, which is part of Bryah, would involve enhancing the site operations team, the implementation of a new mine plan and a commitment to additional resource definition drilling. The operation, located in WA’s Bryah Basin, is about 140km north of Meekatharra and includes the Fortnum, Horseshoe and Peak Hill mining areas.

The centre includes the 900,000-tonne-per-annum Fortnum processing facility, where Starlight currently provides about 90 per cent of all processed tonnes, with the remaining 10 per cent from surface stockpiles.

Management says the mine plan at Starlight now extends 320m below the current decline face, representing a four-year vertical advance at typical mining rates. The Nightfall lode continues to outperform management’s expectations and highlights the value drilling can unlock, with the first northern stope averaging more than 12g/t gold in production sampling – well above the planned grade of 3.4g/t gold.

The company believes Nightfall presents as a significant opportunity to leverage the existing capital, with more than 200 vertical metres of the orebody already capitally developed. Nightfall, as an extension to existing Starlight levels, is expected to provide an incremental increase to current mine production levels.

Westgold’s commitment to drilling our assets continues to extend mine lives and enhance value for our shareholders. This systematic and focussed approach to Mineral Resource definition and ongoing optimisation of our mining practises sets Starlight up to take maximum advantage of an Australian dollar gold price unseen by any of its previous owners. Westgold Resources managing director Wayne Bramwell

The Starlight orebody has produced more than 750,000 gold ounces during its early history, with about 525,000 ounces produced by open-pit and shallow underground operators at about 3.1g/t gold to a total depth of 260m before mining ceased in 1993. Between 1994 and 1998, Perilya Gold Mines mined the Trev’s and Starlight open pits, followed by the Starlight-Twilight underground mine from 1999 to 2001. From 2017, Westgold has mined more than 240,000 ounces from the Starlight underground.

Last week, Westgold extended the life of its Big Bell underground gold mine near the WA town of Cue to 16 years after the board approved an expanded new model for the operation. Management says the expanded mine will provide baseload feed for the Tuckabianna and Bluebird processing hubs, while its ore will be supplemented with high-grade product from the Bluebird and Great Fingall mines.

The company expects to extract 15.7 million tonnes of ore from the upgraded mine for 1.5 million gold ounces, while grades are predicted to lift from 2.5g/t gold to 3g/t. First ore is set for the first half of the 2025 financial year.

Westgold is currently working on a $25 million exploration program on the back of increasing its combined mineral resource by 311,000 ounces earlier this year. Drilling will continue across the entire Bryah package, with the first target in Starlight approved for initial drill testing in January next year.

It means the company’s hunt is still on in earnest to try and find more of the type of blazing gold drill hits others dream about.

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