How the $226m King of the Hills development will make Red 5 a mid-tier gold miner in 2022
Back in 2017, when Red 5 bought the historic King of the Hills mine in WA from Saracen Mineral Holdings, it was supposed to be a high grade add-on to the mill it bought from Gold Fields around 100km north at Darlot (reports Stockhead).
9th September 2021
While Darlot was a grand old operation that had continuously produced almost 3Moz of gold over three decades, King of the Hills had largely been a high grade satellite underground operation for St Barbara and Saracen since its life as the 1.65Moz Tarmoola open pit ended in 2004.
At that point it had the misfortune to be in the portfolio of Sons of Gwalia, which also owned the Gwalia gold mine 30km to the south, on the doorstep of the northern Goldfields town of Leonora.
SoG infamously collapsed under heavy debts and the weight of a poorly conceived hedging regime.
A large rockfall also forced Tarmoola into care and maintenance. A portal was blasted years later by new owners St Barbara, and companies since, including Red 5, have extracted gold from narrow quartz veins a few hundred metres below surface.
For Red 5’s geologists it was a case of seeing only the trees. Red 5 managing director Mark Williams says a new geological approach means they can now see – and mine – the forest at King of the Hills.
Now, the ageing and constrained Darlot mill will be shut in April next year and the ore trucked instead to King of the Hills, which is being redeveloped at a cost of $226 million and will deliver first gold by mid-2022.
Construction is well under way by contractors MACA-Interquip (ASX:MLD) on a new 4.7Mtpa processing plant, one of the largest in Australia, reimagining King of the Hills as the Goldfields’ next large-scale bulk open pit and underground gold mine.
A mine once thought of as spent, King of the Hills now boasts a resource base of 4.1Moz, Australia’s ninth largest gold ore reserve of 2.4Moz and a 16-year mine life, an operation which Williams says our children will be mining.
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