Heavy rainfall halts gold mines in parts of WA

14th March 2024 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Heavy rainfall halts gold mines in parts of WA

Wet feed has contributed to crusher failures at Westgold's Fortnum and Tuckabianna. Repairs at both plants have been completed.

Recent heavy rainfall in parts of Western Australia has presented challenges for gold mines in the region, with some suspending operations owing to adverse weather conditions, impacting on their production.

The Gruyere gold mine, which is a joint venture between Gold Fields and Gold Road, has suspended operations and hopes to resume openpit access next week.

In March, a prolonged regional rainfall event drenched the area where the mine is located. Gruyere has been inundated with about 140 mm of rain, while Laverton has recorded 110 mm in the last two weeks, This is about 50% of the area’s average yearly precipitation.

The rain has prompted the closure of the Laverton Shire road, cutting off access to Gruyere.

As a result of the temporary suspension of mining operations and some disruption during the ongoing deluge, the processing plant has been processing stockpiles for much of the month to date.

March quarterly gold production is forecast to be 68 000 oz to 73 000 oz. Gruyere’s full-year guidance is unchanged at between 300 000 oz and 335 000 oz at an all-in sustaining cost of between A$1 900/oz and A$2 050/oz.

Meanwhile, in the Murchison and Bryah regions, Westgold has also suffered lost time owing to intermittent, yet heavy rainfall. Flooding has impacted some operations and impacted both surface and underground haulage.

In addition, processing wet and sticky ore has constrained mill throughput and increased the reliance on low-grade surface stocks. Wet feed has contributed to crusher failures at Fortnum and Tuckabianna. Repairs at both operations have been completed.

Westgold said that halted mining at the Paddy’s Flat underground mine this quarter would impact its full-year guidance by 15 000 oz to 20 000 oz. Despite this, the company is on track to deliver its production guidance of 245 000 oz to 265 000 oz at a cost of A$1 800/oz to A$2 000/oz, although production will be at the bottom-end and cost at the top-end of the guidance range.

“It has been a challenging period for our teams in the Murchison and Bryah Operations, who have responded quickly to weather and operational challenges and safely got our processing plants back up and running.

“Westgold’s key drivers are free cash generation and profitability. As such, and in managing our shareholder’s capital, we are unremorseful in pausing our smallest mine as Paddy’s Flat was loss-making at the reduced scale,” said MD and CEO Wayne Bramwell.