Red 5 joins producer ranks with first gold pour at King of the Hills north of Leonora

Red 5 has achieved its goal of joining the ranks of Australia’s gold producers, with first gold poured at its King of the Hills operation north of Leonora on Sunday (reports The West Australian).
9th June 2022

The company told the ASX on Monday the first smelt delivered two gold dore bars weighing 1588 ounces.

Red 5 managing director Mark Williams said the first gold pour marked a huge milestone for the company and its shareholders.

“It marks the beginning of a new era for Red 5, with the new 4.7Mtpa King of the Hills processing plant set to become a highly efficient production hub,” he said.

“There are promising signs regarding future throughput potential and with two months of feed stocks ready for processing and mining now well-established we have a strong platform to build upon.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted us in getting to first gold within the scheduled timeframe, amid the backdrop of a very challenging environment.”

Mr Williams in the company’s March quarterly report said Red 5’s ability to successfully deliver the major project, against the backdrop of unprecedented labour and supply market constraints and the recent widespread impact of COVID-19, was a great achievement.

It has been a almost five-year journey for Red 5 to establish its 100 per cent-owned, 2.4Moz King of the Hills mine about 30km north of Leonora, which is projected to have a mine life of 16 years.

Red 5 picked up King of the Hills from Saracen Mineral Holdings in 2017, along with the Darlot goldmine near Leinster from Gold Fields, for a combined $34.5 million in cash and scrip on October 2, 2017.

That came after the goldminer had worked out a plan to make both operations more efficient by trucking underground ore from King of the Hills to the mill at Darlot.

The miner operated on that model until it implemented a plan that turned the model on its head.

The new plan, unveiled in September last year, saw the company put its Darlot processing plant into care and maintenance and send its ore to the plant at King of the Hills.

The strategy was expected to slash all-in-sustaining costs of $2300/oz-$2400/oz for the 2021-22 financial year to $1700/oz-$1900/oz from FY23.

The cost efficiencies would come from processing ore through the economies of scale with operating a much bigger plant.

Mr Williams in September last year also revealed the company’s decision to break with convention was crucial to the success of the project.

As the ravages of COVID-19 began to spread across the globe in 2020, Mr Williams and his team were poring over data they had collated from the mine.

With a series of promising drill hits and a recent resource upgrade, the team decided conditions were ripe to tap the market.

Red 5 rattled the tin in March 2020 and was flooded with market support for a $125 million capital raising.

The company went on to lock in contracts and order long-lead items for the $226 million standalone processing plant at King of the Hills.

That was before a final feasibility study had even been completed.

But the bold move saw the goldminer beat the cost, workforce and industry pressures that were later laid bare by the pandemic.

Mr Williams in September last year said the landmark capital raising had seen the company get ahead of the curve.

“Early part of 2020 as COVID was bubbling its way through Asia I sat with the management team and also had a discussion with our chairman about how we can deliver shareholder value,” he said.

“We knew we were in a supercharged gold price at $2500-plus Aussie dollars, we had oodles of gold, we were just about to put out a resource announcement of 4.1 million ounces but we were only halfway through the feasibility study.

“Normal convention is you finish your feasibility study, you get your debt and then you do your equity raising. But we had the courage and the vision to be able to break normal convention and to do a large equity raising in March 2020.

“We had the courage and the agility to be able to make a bold decision to raise equity at a time of uncertainty just before COVID came to Australia and the markets tanked.”

Mr Williams said if the company had procrastinated, it would be looking at a much bigger capital outlay and first gold in 2023.

Subscribe to the RRS Weekly Wrap

© 2022 Resources Rising Stars All Rights Reserved