STAWELL Gold Mine has returned to production.
Resources Minister Tim Pallas celebrated the announcement and launched the state government’s new Mineral Resources Strategy: State of Discovery as the mine’s owner Arete Capital Partners confirmed the news on Tuesday.
Stawell Gold Mine was put into care and maintenance in December 2016 and has exceeded underground exploration expectations.
Arete Capital Partners plans to invest in mining operations at Stawell across the next two years. The investment would include both above and below ground upgrades worth about $80 million.
Arete Capital Partners executive director and chief executive Campbell Olsen said it was an exciting time for the company.
“We have made a number of major new goldfield discoveries underground, which has got us very excited,” he said.
He said while people suspected gold was in certain areas for years, it had only recently been discovered along the eastern flank of the mine.
“We believe we have only scratched the surface,” Mr Olsen said.
Three drill rigs have been working on the new discovery, 24 hours a day. During the exploration period, three or four major new fields have been found.
“We can’t see the end of the gold. The company are planning to do more exploration and we hope that continues for a very long time,” Mr Olsen said.
Mr Olsen said the next 12 to 18 months would be an exciting time for the mine as it increased its workforce from 65 employees to between 150 and 200 people.
“This includes well-paid, quality jobs which will be great for the local community, who have been terrific supporters of us,” he said.
He said the challenge for the short-term period was to secure production for the next 20 years.
He said the company had currently secured exploration for the next 10 years.
“This time next year, I would love to announce we have 20 years plus and continue to grow from there,” Mr Olsen said.
Mr Pallas announced that Arete Capital Partners had advised it would not progress its open cut Big Hill project.
“The Stawell Gold Mine is in discussions with the Earth Resources Regulation to remove this area from the mining license area,” he said.
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Tony Driscoll said the announcement took courage and a leap of faith from Arete Capital Partners.
“This is going to be a sensational outcome,” Cr Driscoll said.
Cr Driscoll said the commitment would create opportunities for the community, including spin-offs involving contractors.
He said this would benefit the community and region for many years to come.
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