The Bronzewing gold mine made a big mark in Western Australia’s gold mining history. It was the 1990s discovery that not only created a pegging rush but contributed to Mark Creasy getting into the Guiness Book of Records as the prospector receiving the richest payout. The mine has gone through thick and thin since and current owner View Resources is finally getting its mining revival on track.
View Resources (ASX: VRE) this week disclosed it was now ramping up the Bronzewing gold project in the north eastern goldfields of Western Australia to a target of producing 10,000 ounces of gold per month.
While this ranks Bronzewing in its second life as a mid tier producer, it is a far better image than the problem for a mine that was transformed about six years ago from the silk purse that opened up the Yandal Greenstone Belt to a sow’s ear. Bronzweing had to close early after someone had got the ore reserve figures very wrong.
View purchased the mine from Newmont Mining Corporation which acquired the Yandal assets with the takeover of Normandy Mining Ltd. Normandy in turn had acquired Bronzewing and the Jundee mines in the takeover of Great Central Mines, and while Jundee excelled Normandy had found Bronzewing to be short at least three years of production ore.
Great Central had acquired the Yandal belt leases from mining engineer turned prospector Mark Creasy and took out his stake for a record amount, with various figures cited but known to have been at least $A115 million ($US 100 M), enough for the active explorer to continue pegging and becoming a major investor in many Australian juniors.
After Newmont closed the mine many observers thought View was foolhardy in taking it on, and the first major publicity about three years ago was that View had to stall development because it could not find adequate labour – a blameless situation, for it was one of the first signals of the chronic professional and skilled labour shortage in WA that has only worsened.
View’s managing director, Tim Gooch said Bronzewing’s substantial mill now has ore presenting from five sources — the two underground declines Discovery and Calista, and three pits, Venus, Success and Central.
He said operationally, both underground contractors on site are performing well and capital development is now back on schedule delivering more consistent higher grade ore as both declines begin their stoping programmes.
“With the current supply of ore the treatment plant now has the ability to blend the feed grade and material type to achieve optimum efficiency levels and targeted recoveries. The operational position is better than at any stage over the past 3-4 months, where lack of consistent ore supply has been a key limiting factor,” he said.
The operation produced 17,600 oz in the September quarter when the ramp up began. The mill will still be under-used and Mineweb understands that at least one company with gold deposits in the region – Korab Resources – has been in discussions on having its higher grade ore treated there.
Views’ other asset, the Carnilya Hill nickel project near Kambalda is also being revived in a joint venture with regional nickel producer Mincor Resources which is advancing deeper development to generate a cash flow by early next year.