Metals X’s Central Murchison Project Pours First Gold
The Central Murchison project is mining several historically mined properties, with ore trucked to and processed at the existing, 2-million-mt/y Bluebird plant. Metals X acquired the plant in 2014 and has made it the centerpiece of its Central Murchison development strategy. The plant has been fully recommissioned, is currently being optimized, and is operating at an average throughput rate of more than 200 mt/h.
The Central Murchison project’s mine properties are located near and between the towns of Meekatharra and Cue. The Bluebird plant is 10 km south of Meekatharra. The Central Murchison district as a whole is about 500 km northeast of the port of Geraldton.
In terms of past production, the Murchison Province is Western Australia’s second most important gold-mining region after the Eastern Goldfields. Metals X’s project includes six of the Province’s most prolific gold mines, with aggregated past production of more than 10 million oz since mining began in the region in the 1890s.
Metals X announced the completion of the feasibility study for its current project in January 2015. The study revealed robust economics for a project producing approximately 200,000 oz/y of gold at allin sustaining costs of A$1,180/oz and an initial mine life of 13 years.
Metals X began open-pit mining at the project in June 2015 and began underground mining in August. Due to the lead time required to re-enter and build sustainable production from the underground mines, open-pit mining is contributing a major share of production in the early stages of operations; however, underground mining will supply the bulk of production over the life of the project.
Ore reserves currently total 21.3 million mt, grading 3 g/mt gold and containing 2.05 million oz of gold. Mineral resources total 128 million mt, grading 2.1 g/mt gold and containing 8.5 million oz of gold.
The feasibility study assumes that contactors will be employed for all open-pit mining, underground mining, and haulage of ore to the Bluebird plant.