Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) has had the prescribed project status of its Ravenswood Expansion Project extended until November 30, 2020, by the Queensland State Government.
The company has undertaken a streamlined approval process to ensure it receives the regulatory approvals required for Ravenswood and to provide opportunities for further project enhancements.
All major approvals for the updated Ravenswood expansion have been received, including environmental and heritage approvals for mining at the Sarsfield and Buck Reef West open pits.
Resolute managing director & CEO John Welbon said: “The Queensland Government shares our view that the economic and social benefits of continuing gold mining in Ravenswood are significant for the region and for Queensland.
“The prolonged life of Mt Wright, and the collaborative and proactive approach to receiving regulatory approvals for our extension plans, is allowing further enhancement opportunities to be identified and progressed.”
Under Queensland legislation, a prescribed project declaration is designed to facilitate the approval process for projects deemed to be of economic or social significance to Queensland or a region within the state.
This is achieved by empowering the state’s Coordinator-General to actively assist in the planning, delivery and coordination of all required regulatory approvals as well ensuring environmental impacts are properly managed.
Average annual gold production under the expansion is anticipated to be 115,000 ounces per year and life-of-mine all-in sustaining costs reduced to $1,097 per ounce.
The updated expansion plan for Ravenswood follows a staged development pathway, completing mining at the Mt Wright underground and Nolans East open cut mines.
Mining then will shift to the Buck Reef West and Sarsfield open pits from July 2019 and financial year 2025, respectively.
Resolute plans to upgrade the 2.8-million-tonne per annum Nolans processing plant to 3.2 million tonnes by the start of 2020 and to 5 million tonnes in financial year 2024.
Since July this year, potential enhancements have been identified include: the probable extension of mining at Mt Wright; and the potential for a single-stage processing plant expansion directly to 5-million-tonnes per annum.
Initial assessments of this single-stage processing expansion indicate materially better financial outcomes would be generated from the resulting increase in average gold production to about 130,000 ounces per year.
Should the fast-track plan be adopted, mining and processing of ore from Buck Reef West through the expanded processing plant would be deferred by 3-6 months.
Remaining approvals to be requested include:
Approval of submitted applications for additional mining leases to cover the Buck Reef West open pit’s operational footprint;
An application for a mining lease extension to accommodate the expansion of the Noloans tailings storage facility (NTSF); and
An application for an environmental authority amendment to permit the NTSF extension and allow for in-pit tailings storage at Buck Reef West.
All applications will be submitted by January 2019 and are expected to be approved by June.