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Golden times

Tuesday, 20th April, 2010

* The first gold pour from the nearby White Dam mine in South Australia. * The first gold pour from the nearby White Dam mine in South Australia.

By Andrew Robertson

West Australian company Exco Resources has finally made the transition from explorer to miner after the first gold pour at its White Dam gold mine.

The company said the milestone followed a successful six month construction and commissioning program at the mine, 80km west of Broken Hill in South Australia.

Exco, which owns 75 per cent of the mine, said it was now looking forward to ramping up gold production to an annualised rate of about 50,000 ounces per year. Managing director Michael Anderson said yesterday that the first gold production was an important day for the company, which up until now has been involved only in exploration projects.

“It’s pretty significant making the transition from explorer to miner,” Mr Anderson told the BDT. While recent heavy rainfall in the area had “cost a few days”, he said the delay was “not a drama at all” considering the project’s overall timeframe. “I think we were more or less on target and very happy,” he said. “We’re basically very happy with the fact that we’ve reached that milestone.”

The mine, which employs about 60 mainly local staff, is expected to be at full production within a couple of months. Mr Anderson, who will be visiting the mine site today, said the project would not only provide some cash-flow for the company but also sent a message that it was more than just talk. “It’s demonstrated we are serious about taking our projects into production.”

He said the company’s focus now was to “stabilise and optimize” production, and at the same time try and add to the current three-and-half year mine life. The company holds “a few hundred square kilometres” of exploration leases either side of the Barrier Highway, and Mr Anderson said there were “known occurrences within that tenement package”. “In addition to increasing production, attention will now also turn to near-mine exploration and resource development activities with a view to extending the mine life at White Dam,” the company said in a statement.

Mr Anderson said that an exploration program had been budgeted and approved with Polymetals, which operates and has a 25 per cent share in White Dam.

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