Red River Resources is fast-tracking development of the Liontown project as its next mine at the Thalanga complex after ‘outstanding’ exploration results in 2019.
Speaking upon the release of December quarterly reports, managing director Mel Palancian said Liontown and Liontown East were proving to be a much bigger mineralised system than expected.
Red River last month reported high-grade gold and silver hits in the Liontown drilling campaign and it is working to update the mineral resource estimate for the New Queen Lens there to finalise preliminary mining studies.
The earliest Liontown would come online would be late this year, with timing depending on permitting, and Mr Palancian expects Red River to kick off gold production at its new Hillgrove asset in New South Wales first.
“The company’s focus is gold. We are super-keen to get gold into our production mix and to me Hillgrove is just a fantastic opportunity to quickly and cheaply get gold into the mix,” he said.
“…Liontown will be close second to Hillgrove, and it’s not that we’re not going to focus on Liontown – we’re going to push that as hard as we can as well, because that has huge flow-on benefits for Thalanga because we’ve got the excess mill capacity there.”
Red River has also revealed it is conducting a broad review of the gold potential of its tenements in the Charters Towers region, and Mr Palancian said preliminary work had shown great potential.
“The final report is not far away but there will be some news flow that comes out of that as well. There are some exciting things coming out of that,” he said.
The Thalanga operation, 65km south-west of Charterss Towers, is currently producing zinc, copper and lead from its Far West mine and West 45 mine.
West 45 is winding down, with production expected to come to a close within weeks.
Decline development is continuing for the new Far West underground mine, which is producing a combination of development and stope ore.
But poor ground conditions and productivity issues have delayed the ramp-up of operations at Far West, seeing the Thalanga site’s production rate drop to about 60,000 tonnes mined last quarter compared to 100,000 in the previous month.
Mr Palancian said mining contractor Pybar had addressed the productivity issues, and there was now a new leadership team in place.
“We’ve also changed our ground control standards during the quarter to address the ground conditions in the upper levels and, again, that’s made an impact and improved the stability of the ground,” he said.
Where they would normally bolt and mesh to the grade line, they had instead been bolting and meshing to the floor to protect the walls better as well as using straps in some areas.
The operation was encountering much better ground conditions as the Far West decline entered the lower levels, he said.