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Westgold Resources kicks off decline development at Great Fingall

Updated: May 2

Westgold Resources has restarted operations at its Mt Fingall underground gold mine. Credit: File

Westgold Resources has restarted one of Western Australia’s most historic gold mines, with the company taking the first cut out of the Great Fingall decline near the town of Cue in the State’s Mid West region.

Earlier this year, the board approved the return to operations at the site after management presented a conservative base case to produce 2.5 million tonnes of ore at about five grams per tonne gold for 383,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of $1801 per ounce. It is expected to deliver more than 45,000 gold ounces per year once it reaches a steady state of operation, with an initial mine life of eight years and first ore scheduled for the first half of the 2025 financial year.

The company’s financial investment decision study estimates an 18-month development period to first scheduled ore and developing about 4000m of decline to a depth of about 700m below surface. Management says its high-speed development team completed the first cut into the existing decline access last week, in line with the plan outlined in the Great Fingall study.

Importantly, significant upside exists from known shallow high-grade, flat and linking structures that we will develop through as we push the decline past the shallow remnant mining areas to the virgin extensions of this high-grade orebody. These opportunities, which could deliver additional ounces during FY24, have not yet been included in the current business case or design. Westgold Resources managing director Wayne Bramwell

Mr Bramwell says Great Fingall is one of four historic producing mines in Westgold’s portfolio that exceed one million gold ounces.

Between 1891 and 1929, Great Fingall yielded 1.2 million ounces of gold from 1.9 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 19.5g/t. Mining started again in 1995 using open-pit methods up until March in 1999, yielding 82,000 gold ounces from 1.8 million tonnes of ore.

Remarkably, no mining has been conducted on the underground extensions to the orebody for nearly a century.

Both the Golden Crown and Great Fingall mines, which are separated by about 700m along the Great Fingall dolerite, have hosted significant historic production, with more than 1.55 million ounces of gold mined since the late 1800s.

Two subsequent open-pit campaigns at Great Fingall since 1999, the last by Westgold in 2020, have produced a further 54,000 ounces of gold, leaving the pit floor 170m below surface, with underground decline access established.

Management says it de-risked the project last financial year with a major drill campaign targeting the area below the historic workings. In May, the company unveiled an all-encompassing upgraded mineral resource for Great Fingall of 4.3 million tonnes grading 4.3g/t for 588,000 ounces of gold – a 49 per cent increase to its previous estimate of 304,000 gold ounces.

Combined with the nearby Golden Crown mineral resource of 194,000 gold ounces, the Great Fingall development plan is based on a total resource of 782,000 ounces of contained gold.

And with the gold price booming on the back of the renewed Israeli conflict, it seems a prime time to be pulling the precious yellow metal out of the ground and selling it.

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