Fountain Head gold and Hayes Creek gold/silver/zinc projects, Australia – update

Image of Australia flag and periodic table symbols for gold, silver and zinc

24th February 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Fountain Head gold and Hayes Creek gold/silver/zinc projects.

Pine Creek region of the Northern Territory, in Australia.

Project Owner/s
PNX Metals.

Project Description
The results of a prefeasibility study (PFS) have supported the sequential development of PNX’s Fountain Head gold and Hayes Creek gold/silver/zinc projects over a ten-year mine life.

The PFS has confirmed the technical and economic viability of a staged development approach to build a low capital- and operating-cost gold plant and infrastructure capable of treating 750 000 t/y, with potential capacity of 900 000 t/y.

In Stage 1, near-surface oxide and free-milling gold and silver ore from three openpit mines at Fountain Head, Mt Bonnie and Glencoe will be processed over an initial five-year period.

In Stage 2, subsequent to the treatment of the currently defined oxide gold and silver resources in Stage 1, the carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant will be upgraded to incorporate a sulphide flotation circuit capable of processing the Hayes Creek high-grade gold/silver/zinc massive sulphide ores into two valuable product streams – a zinc concentrate and a precious metals concentrate. The concentrates will be trucked to the Port of Darwin and then shipped to international markets for sale, and smelting and refining.

The PFS envisages initial gold mining and processing at Fountain Head (years 1 to 5) to be followed by gold/silver/zinc development at Hayes Creek (from Year 4).

The development will use the mined-out Fountain Head pit for tailings storage.

Life-of-mine production estimates with metals recovered to doré and concentrates are estimated at 250 500 oz of gold, 11.4-million ounces of silver and 116 300 t of zinc.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a pretax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of A$171-million and an internal rate of return of 63% at a gold equivalent price of $1119/oz, with a payback of 18 months.

Capital Expenditure
Total upfront capital costs for Stage 1 are estimated at A$46-million for mine development, gold plant and infrastructure engineering, procurement and construction management costs, first fill, critical spares and working capital.

Stage 2 is estimated at A$58-million. The timing and quantum of Stage 2 capital is being assessed as there are several items, such as maintenance, administration, telecommunications, power, crushing and tailings, which will be used across both process streams. Considerable capital cost savings are expected to be realised upon completion of this work.

Planned Start/End Date
First gold production is expected from mid-2022, with opportunities to accelerate the timetable being assessed with stakeholders.

Latest Developments
Northern Territory government has granted environmental approval for the development of the Fountain Head project, allowing the company to submit a mining management plan to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade for assessment.

The submission is expected during March this year.

The project team is now focused on completing and submitting mine management plans, and progressing approvals for the Hayes Creek zinc/gold/silver project. Near-mine and regional exploration will restart shortly with a focus on two newly identified highly prospective ‘gold’ corridors containing multiple high-priority drill targets on its northern leases.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Como Engineers (design and construct proposal for the CIL gold plant) and Metso Outotec (additional design information, thickening and filtration testwork).

Contact Details for Project Information
PNX Metals, tel +6 8 8364 3188 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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