Despite a gloomy start to the year for mining, the gold sector in WA has shone with MHM Metals announcing a milestone to develop the Brightstar Gold Project located in Laverton.
Under an $18 million deal, MHM will earn up to 80 per cent of the 740,000 ounce project from Hong Kong-backed joint venture partner Stone Resources.
MHM will manage the joint venture which will earn an initial 50 per cent interest through spending $7.5 million development capital on the project. MHM will have the option to increase its interest in the project up to 80 per cent through spending up to an additional $10.5 million.
The project covers an area in excess of about 300 square kilometres and includes the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Ben Hur, King of Creation and Cork Tree Well gold deposits.
The joint venture includes the 350ktpa Brightstar gold treatment plant – currently under care and maintenance – along with all associated infrastructure such as power gen-sets, laboratory, camp accommodation and assorted mining equipment. All deposits are easily accessible via graded road and close proximity to major sealed roads and all-weather airstrips.
In other developments in the sector, commissioning of Saracen Mineral Holdings’ $65m Thunderbox gold processing plant is underway and ahead of schedule.
First ore has been introduced to the grinding circuit and refurbishment of all key areas of the processing plant, crushing, grinding and classification, leaching and absorption have been completed.
Delivery of this new open pit operation will double group gold production to approximately 300,000 ounces a year, according to Saracen.
Commencement of commissioning of the Thunderbox processing plant was within 10 months of Board development approval.
The Thunderbox Operations are centred on the Thunderbox Open Pit and carbon in leach gold treatment plant 45km south of Leinster and immediately adjacent to the sealed Goldfields Highway.
The Thunderbox processing facility, which has been on care and maintenance since 2007, has an annual capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per annum and incorporates a single-stage crusher, a SAG mill and a ball mill as well as conventional CIL leaching and elution circuits.