Australian junior miner White Rock Minerals has re-commissioned the gold processing plant at its Morning Star underground gold mine in Victoria and is once again recovering gold concentrate.
The company said it has completed three campaigns treating existing low-grade gold stockpiles and has since achieved nameplate throughputs at the operation between 7 and 9 tonnes per hour, treating approximately 1,700 t of material.
Its production of dore bars, it added, has added producer to its name as the bars, considered a milestone for the group, are now for sale. It was also able to record initial gold production on time in the third quarter and will now focus on more higher-grade gold reefs for mining and processing through the newly reopened plant.
“Existing infrastructure (shaft, headframe and winder, dewatering system and offshaft development), and a functional gold processing plant, has provided White Rock a rapid pathway to gold production,” the company said. “This allows the company to leapfrog many of the issues associated with a company going from explorer to producer - the time to achieve the necessary approvals and permits, supply chain challenges, ordering and delivering long lead times, and cost inflation and construction risks.”
The mine will now send high-grade gold material through the gold processing plant since it has recommenced work at the mine’s underground mining area, focusing on the McNally Reef on 7 and 8 Level, and on the Dickenson Reef on 4 Level. Pre-production development underground is also seeing activities to access other potential high-grade gold-bearing reefs, specifically the Exhibition Reef and Stacpoole Reef above 4 Level.
On a related note, White Rock has ordered new equipment to improve productivity underground, given that multiple reefs are now available for mining across numerous levels, including two new rocker shovels from South Africa. Two electric locomotives to haul ore wagons, one to operate on 4 Level and one on 9 Level will soon be on order to help haulage cycle times, reduce manual labour and contribute to minimising the site’s carbon footprint.
“Our team on-site has done a fantastic job to get to this point in the mine’s restart of gold production, safely and on time. Our recent aggressive drilling campaign identified an initial five reefs for mining above 9 Level, despite some 500,000 ounces of gold having already been produced from this area and many claiming that the old-timers mined it all,” White Rock MD and CEO Matt Gill said.
“The team has done a tremendous job to manage the drill program, identify the complex gold reef structures that exist, guide the mining to access these reefs and now deliver high-grade tonnes to the surface for gold extraction processing. This is the first step in the re-opening of the Morning Star gold mine [and] we look forward to now ramping up production as we recruit more personnel, develop more reefs and increase the team on site to process this increasing volume of material.”