Minjar Gold is investigating a potential new open-cut operation at the Pajingo mine site in north Queensland as it looks to boost throughput at the on-site processing plant.
The new owners are keen to develop the gold mine into a long-term operation, according to general manager – Pajingo operations Kerry Payne.
“Currently the Pajingo process plant is an underutilised asset, so the main objective is to see the plant operate on a full-time basis,” Mr Payne said.
“There is an abundance of opportunities in the area and the key is to prioritise and resource appropriately so that we can convert ‘potential’ to ‘deliverable’ in the shortest timeframe possible.”
Minjar Gold acquired the Pajingo gold mine and surrounding exploration tenements from Evolution Mining in September last year for up to $52 million in cash and royalties.
Pajingo, 50km south of Charters Towers, produces 60,000-70,000oz of gold per annum and has a workforce of about 240 Minjar employees and contractors.
Mr Payne said Minjar Gold had recently expanded the mine and exploration geological teams to support the regional growth strategy.
The site’s overall numbers were expected to increase again in the next 12-18 months if the open-cut mining opportunities were proven and approved, he said.
The operation is also targeting other near-mine epithermal deposits, or ‘transformational’ targets over the next 12-18 months.
“This is in addition to the areas we have identified that could be mined from the current underground infrastructure that will extend the current life of mine,” Mr Payne said.
“We believe a long-term presence in the region shouldn’t just rely on the one traditional ore source and our growth plans reflect this.”
Aside from growth, the site has focused on the underground’s operational efficiency, introducing mining techniques not traditionally used at the Pajingo mine.
These include in-cycle Fibrecrete for development, larger diameter production blast holes, emulsion explosives and mechanical rising via a small modified raise bore.
Pajingo has been operating since 1986 under owners including Battle Mountain Gold and Normandy Mining, Newmont Mining Corporation, North Queensland Metals and Heemskirk Consolidated, Conquest Mining, and Evolution Mining.
“Pajingo has a production history over more than 30 years, but due to the nature of its mined orebodies it has rarely ever had a life-of-mine beyond three years,” Mr Payne said.
“The current Vera Underground at Pajingo remains around this three-year mark but we certainly have five to 10-plus-year plans based around our current exploration activity.”
Regarding the local community, Mr Payne said the operation had always taken a ‘local first’ approach to recruitment and procurement and would continue to do so.
“We have recently awarded a very significant earthmoving contract to a locally based company and, amongst others, continue to engage local drilling contractors and Charters Towers-based engineering firms,” he said.
“In respect to individual job seekers, we always maintain a preference for local talent or those willing to relocate to Charters Towers.”
More about Minjar Gold
Minjar Gold has its sights set on further growth opportunities in Queensland as it works to realise the ‘excellent potential’ of its Pajingo asset.
Operating since 2009, the company is focused on becoming a mid-tier player in the Australian market, according to chief executive officer Michael Ji.
Minjar Gold already has a significant presence in Western Australia, where it owns the Golden Dragon mine as well as the Kirkalocka and Fields Find gold projects.
Minjar Gold entered into a management agreement in April with parent company Shandong Tianye Group Bid Co for the operation of the Southern Cross Mine
Mr Ji said Minjar had been attracted to Pajingo due to the size of the operation, the exploration potential and the management structure and business operation in place.
“Minjar is investing heavily in exploration within the local region, with Pajingo as its major focus in 2017,” he said.
“There is an expectation that both production and mine life can be improved over the next 12-18 months and new targets identified.
“As for further Queensland growth, Minjar is on record about its ambitions to be a mid-tier Australian gold producer and sees Queensland as an area for future growth opportunities.”