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Ravenswood Gold’s ramp-up is advancing at a fast pace under the expansion project that will see it reach a mining rate of 12Mtpa of ore.

“Early last year we were averaging approximately 39,000 person hours per month,” Ravenswood Gold general manager operations Dave Mackay said. 

“That has more than tripled to around 130,000 hours on site per month due to both the increased employee numbers to support the mining operations and the additional personnel doing the expansion work.” 

The EMR/GEAR joint venture committed to the Ravenswood Development Plan (RDP) when they took over the Ravenswood gold operations from Resolute Mining last year.

When the RDP is complete, the Ravenswood Gold mine is expected to be the largest gold mine in Queensland, producing more than 200,000 ounces per year.

The North Queensland gold operation has built its permanent workforce up by 160 new roles to a total of 320 employees and is in the process of recruiting and onboarding an additional 70 roles by end of 2021.

The Buck Reef West mining pit at Ravenswood is operating 24/7, subject to noise constraints, and a new tailings storage facility is expected to be operational later this year.

This will allow the operation to stop putting tailings in the old Sarsfield pit – paving the way for dredging and a return to production there.

That Sarsfield/Nolans area is due to come online in 2022/23 – and once in full swing will see the site mining about 12Mtpa of ore with beneficiation to create about 7.2-7.5Mtpa of mill feed.

Mr Mackay said Pensar Project Infrastructure was acting as lead contractor on the tailings storage facility.

“They have engaged a number of subcontractors, the key one being Geotest Pty Ltd – who are installing the bituminous geomembrane liner,” he said.

Work is also underway to step up processing capacity, with three out of six new leach tanks commissioned and construction of the remaining three well advanced.

Mr Mackay said a new crushing circuit was under construction, with commissioning planned later this year, and works for the new mill had commenced. 

The mining fleet is growing as well, with the site due to receive its 10th Hitachi EH3500 truck this month, followed by two more in October and another three next year.

Throughout August and September Ravenswood Gold is also due to receive a Cat 775 service truck, two Cat 777 water trucks, two Cat D10T track dozers and a Cat 854K wheel dozer.

These are in addition to two Cat 18M graders and three Hitachi excavators purchased since the new owners began the RDP roll-out.

“To date we have received extensive support from Emeco with hired ancillary equipment,” Mr Mackay said. 

“This will be off-hired as the purchased units are commissioned.”

Construction of a noise bund has allowed the Buck Reef West pit – the first mining stage in the RDP – to shift to around-the-clock operations.

Hydro mulching and seeding of the bund area will be completed over the coming months.

Ravenswood Gold revs up with expansion works