Thursday, 9th December, 2010
High prices mean Portia could pan out
By Andrew Robertson
The region's second gold mine could be in operation by next year after Havilah Resources announced plans to open cut its Portia Gold deposit.
The Adelaide company said it intended to proceed with the development of Portia, 120km northwest of Broken Hill, in South Australia, subject tofinal operating permits and finance.
Managing director Bob Johnson told the BDT yesterday the company would likely use a mix of debt and equity to finance the project which he described as "low cost" and "very simple".
While the estimated size of the Portia deposit was proven up some years ago, Dr Johnson said only now was it viable to mine due to the higher gold price and lower costs associated with the removal of 70 metres of clay overburden.
Portia's estimated resource of 720,000 tonnes at 2.9 grams/tonne was established some five years ago following an evaluation of the deposit.
Additional geotechnical work carried out has since reduced the overburden removal cost.
Dr Johnson said the gold deposit, which is in the Curnamona Province, was different to that being mined at nearby White Dam, which is also open cut but employed a more complex method of extraction.
"Our gold is free gold, so you just have to wash it and put it through a gravity separation plant," Mr Johnson said.
But with an estimated yield of 67,000 ounces, Portia is about half the size of White Dam on current exploration results.
Havilah said it planned to mine about 550,000 tonnes of ore with more than 50,000 ounces to be produced in the first full year of operation.
Dr Johnson said that equated to a 12 to 15 month operation but added "there's a fair chance we'll continue because there's more gold to prove up".
In a statement the company said talks were underway with mining contractors and potential financiers for the operation.
The company was also finalising the Mining and Rehabilitation Program (MARP) which would be lodged with the SA Government as soon as possible.
Dr Johnson said he hoped to obtain MARP approval within three to four months which could see work start in the first quarter of next year.
"We'll be pushing hard after Christmasm," he said. "I would like to start by the end of the first quarter of next year but certainly by the end of the second quarter."
He expected Broken Hill to provide much of the workforce for the mine which, he said, would employ about 30 people.
"Most of our field-type people already come out of Broken Hill."