John Williams, managing director of A1 Minerals Ltd (ASX: AAM) told the Mining 2009 Resources Convention in Brisbane that everything was on schedule for first gold to be poured at the Brightstar gold project near Laverton in Western Australia.

Williams said the company had been exploring in the historic Laverton mining camp since being formed in 2002 and in the past 11 months it had dramatically increased the resource to 1.7 million ounces and announced a proven reserve of 150,000 oz.

A1 had also established a plant construction contract and the 300,000 tonnes per annum plant was now virtually completed and mine stripping has begun on the first mining target – the Beta deposit.

Initially the operation will have a rated production rate of 30,000 oz per annum of gold and the head grade was expected to be better than 4 grams/tonne.

The company controls exploration permits covering 500 square kilometres in the Laverton region which has a mining history and current mining reserves of more than 30 million oz.

The Beta mine, where the gold plant is established, was expected to have a total mining length of 800 metres and to its known depth of 90 metres has a probable reserve of 350,000 tonnes grading 4 g/t.

Williams told a questioner that the gold plant had been set in place for deliberate expansion with some physical facilities and equipment already in place. The cost to complete expansion, including another ball mill, at up to 750,000 tonnes per annum of ore could cost as little as $A2 million ($US1.79 M).

QUALIFICATION: Mineweb correspondent Ross Louthean is a director of A1 Minerals.