Super Pit Tour

Western Australia Hits The Mining Jackpot

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Gold in Australian dollar hit an all-time high this year in June, as it soared past the $2000 an ounce mark for the very first time.

Despite a surge in gold price, an annual review provided by DMIRS found that capital expenditure by the world’s 40 largest mining companies is at 10-year lows, even with revenue surging 23 per cent and profit rising 126 per cent from 2017-2018.

Across the nation, mining investments have fallen for the 6th consecutive year and down almost $60 billion (63 per cent) in just six years, and even more so for WA with mining investment falling 65 per cent over the same period.

However, not all the news is negative news in the mining sector, with Australia’s biggest gold miner, Newcrest Mining, delivering a huge profit of $AUD350 million, up 142 per cent on the prior corresponding period. 

The DMIRS review also found that royalties in the gold sector had risen by more than four per cent to $AUD279 million in 2018.

Let’s take a look at WA’s biggest gold mines.

Boddington Gold Mine, Western AustraliaNewmont Mining

Boddington Gold Mine is the largest gold mine in all of Australia and is responsible for producing 739,000 ounces of gold per annum. In the first quarter for 2019, the mine yielded 155,000 ounces of Gold and was the second-largest producer of gold for the quarter. Newmont Goldcorp has a new project underway, advancing an autonomous haulage study that will potentially see 39 trucks converted using the CAT command system. This new project is expected to improve costs and mining productivity, with a full investment decision to be expected later this year.

Kalgoorlie Superpit Gold Mine, Western Australia — Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM)

What started off as 100 ounces of gold which led to a gold rush, is now one of the world’s largest gold deposits, Kalgoorlie Superpit Goldmine. Things didn’t really kick off until 1989, when Alan Bond managed to successfully combine the entire area to form Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM). Over the last 25 years, the mine has produced approximately 800,000 ounces of gold per annum and was the largest gold producer in all of Australia until Boddington took over in 2012. In just 3 years after being taken over by Newmont Mining, Boddington had yielded a total of 2 million ounces of gold from 2009 to 2012.

Get up close and personal with the Superpit

Telfer Gold Mine, Western Australia — Newcrest

Located in the Great Sandy Desert is the Telfer gold mine that is currently owned and operated by Newcrest Mining. From when it opened in 1975 to closure in 2000, the mine had produced 6 million ounces of gold. It was soon reopened in 2004 and went on to produce another 4 million ounces, and since then, producing 520,000 ounces in 2015 alone. The expected life of the mine is 2021 for underground operations but since 2018, open pit operations have ceased. There is plenty of exploration targets in the surrounding area, with Newcrest Mining striking up a $90 million exploration farm-in agreement with Greatland Gold in the Paterson Province in March this year. It is estimated to contain 20 million ounces of gold and 13 billion pounds of copper.

WA mining projects in the pipeline

Western Australia has an estimated $113 billion worth of resource projects in the pipeline, some notable announcements can include:

  • The North West Shelf Joint Venture signed a non-binding preliminary agreement with Browse Joint Venture and Chevron to process respective gas resources through an expansion in the North West Shelf facilities. A final investment decision is expected in 2020.
  • The development of Woodside’s Scarborough projected is estimated at $14.3 billion and expected to bring in 2400 jobs during construction, with 500 ongoing roles once the project reaches production around 2023.
  • Rio approved a $3.5 billion development of its Koodaideri iron ore project to incorporate a 43 mtpa mine, processing plant and infrastructure, and a 166-kilometre rail line. First production date is listed for late 2021.
  • Western Areas approved the development of the $299 million Odysseus underground nickel mine in Leinster. The first production is expected in 2022 and will produce 130,000 – 140,000 tpa contained nickel for 10 years.
  • A major project by Covalent Minerals (SQM and Kidman Resources joint venture) is underway with a US$601 million Mount Holland lithium mine and concentrator, and Kwinana refinery as of a settlement on December 10 2018.

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