‘Pajingo 2.0’ on the horizon
A key element of the transition is a plan to sink the site’s first decline in 20 years, providing access to a host of known gold deposits beyond the Vera-Nancy system that has been the mainstay of Pajingo production.
“It is a stepping stone to developing a brand new mining region,” general manager – Pajingo operations Kerry Payne said.
“We’re looking at targeting not just the Lynne deposit but least five other ore bodies from that single decline.
“It enables us to establish a brand new mine almost separate to the old Pajingo – that’s why we’re calling it Pajingo 2.0.”
The ‘old Pajingo’ has a mighty history, operating for more than 30 years and producing as much as 320,000 ounces a year at its peak.
It currently employs more than 355 people, including contractors, compared to about 245 people two years ago.
Recent numbers have been swelled by a new focus on a string of surface mining opportunities to make the most of mill capacity at the site, 50km south of Charters Towers.
“We have spent a lot of time and resources developing open-cut opportunities and we’re having some reasonable success,” Mr Payne said.
“We know they are not going to be as big as the underground operations. They are intended to be part of the transition – so as the old underground winds down and the new one winds up we have a buffer there to smooth out production.”
As well as drawing on these small pits to boost mill operations, Pajingo has been lining up third-party ore agreements to process material from other gold projects in the region.
Mr Payne said that for much of its recent history Pajingo had only had a short horizon in terms of mine life, with various owners failing to invest in a longer-term vision.
But that has changed.
“It’s a very exciting time,” he said.
“It is really good to see that Minjar Gold has backed us on our growth strategy and that the operation is finally getting strong support in developing that longer-term potential.”
The impression people may have held of Pajingo as
an operation on its way out was a challenge in terms of attracting people to Charters Towers and giving the local community, including suppliers, confidence, he said.
“One of the key things is for us to demonstrate, not just to Minjar and the industry but to the community, that we are here long term,” Mr Payne said.
“We are at a very interesting point in the life of the operation. Strategically we are thinking beyond the 2-3- year window and if our key objectives are delivered upon then the full potential of Pajingo 2.0 should be realised. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10-plus years’ time there is still a mining operation here given the opportunities we see in front of us.”
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