PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Gold miner Newcrest Mining has been given approval to use the first 200 m of the old Cadia Hill openpit operation, in New South Wales, as a tailings storage facility.
The Cadia Hill openpit would be used in lieu of the Northern tailings facility, where a breakthrough of tailings material was reported in March, which resulted in Newcrest suspending operations at the Cadia project.
Mining operations were restarted at the end of March, with the Northern tailings facility remaining off limits.
The company told shareholders on Monday that it was now installing the pipeline infrastructure to enable the storage of tailings at Cadia Hill to occur, with the use of the openpit expected to start in the first week of May.
In conjunction with the current Southern tailings facility, the new permit will create sufficient storage capacity to enable Cadia to progressively return to full production rates for around 16 months, Newcrest said on Monday.
In this period, the company would look to define and start the optimal repair solution for the Northern tailings facility, while working on permitting the remaining 300 m of the Cadia Hill openpit mine for tailings storage.
As a result of the use of the Cadia Hill openpit as a tailings storage facility, it was likely that the existing ore reserve, containing some 1.5-million ounces of gold and 13 000 t of copper, and a mineral resource of some three-million ounces of gold and 27 000 t of copper, will be foregone.
Newcrest said that the miner was continuing to review and determine the cause of the Northern tailings embankment slump, with a prohibition notice remaining in place.