Cue Gold Operations (CGO)
In the early period, whilst Big Bell builds to its expected annual output of 1 million tonnes per annum, the Comet Mine, Open Pits from the Day Dawn Group and existing low-grade stocks/tailings are plant feedstocks. The refurbishment of the Tuckabianna plant commenced in November 2017 and was completed and commissioned at the end of the March 2018.
The 10-year plan for the CGO has the plant fed at a conservative 1.45 million tonne per annum average over the 10 years (no production in 1HFY18). An average metallurgical recovery of 89.9% is calculated and gold output for the 10 years is 1.1 million ounces from the processing of 13.7 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.7 gt Au. Gold output ranges from 120,000-130,000 ounces during the period when the forecasted underground mines are in steady state production.
Additionally, known Resources of Little Bell and Big Bell South (located in the upper region of historical mining envelope) have been excluded from Development Plan underground inventory. It is expected as the refurbishment process develops, that these areas will be exposed and provide early stage ore feed when rehabilitating to the lower ‘insitu’ ground.
Supplement to this base load, the existing Comet underground (feeding CGO from June quarter 2018) will provide additional high grade feed.
Average Cash Costs (C2) for the CGO are A$1,060 per ounce generating A$625 million in free cash flow over the period. All In Sustaining Costs (AISC) average A$1,285 per ounce with EBIT of A$470 million over the period. Costs associated with refurbishment of the plant and associated infrastructure has been included in the CGO financials.
Underground Sub-Level Caving Recommences at Big Bell
The first mass cave blast was initiated on Monday 2 March, 2020 and paves the way for the planned ramp up in mine output that targets steady-state production rates by the end of CY 2020.
“This is a major milestone for Westgold and a terrific achievement by our CGO team. Big Bell has been idle and flooded since 2003 however before that it was one of the largest single mine gold producers in the Australian gold sector.
After nearly 3 years of substantial capital reinvestment and hard toil, we are on the cusp of returning Big Bell to its former glory. Big Bell will become our largest single mine in the Murchison region and restarts with a 10 year mine life with excellent resource extension potential.
Big Bell is key to Westgold’s plans as it represents the last critical piece in our Murchison strategy. Our dominant land position, three operating process plants, over 9 million oz resource base and our unique position as owner operator provides the strategic platform to underwrite more than 300,000 ounces of production per annum in the longer term.”