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Ravenswood Gold has reached a milestone in the return to open-pit mining at Ravenswood in North Queensland, with the first loads of rock extracted from the Buck Reef West pit.

Operations manager Dave Mackay said he was extremely happy to see mining operations commence as part of the Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP).

“This is a significant step and it marks the beginning of a new era for the Ravenswood Gold mine – this will secure the future of the operation and ensure continued employment for all our staff,” he said.

“When the REP is complete, the Ravenswood Gold mine will be the largest gold mine in Queensland, producing over 200,000 ounces per year. 

“At today’s prices, that will generate over $25 million per annum in royalties for the state government.”

The material being shifted at Buck Reef West pit will initially be waste, and the team is expected to reach ore next week.

Staffing levels at Ravenswood Gold have increased significantly since the EMR GEAR consortium purchased the Ravenswood operation from Resolute Mining in April 2020.

The company said 104 new positions had been filled in that time and another 21 to be filled in the coming weeks.

Mr Mackay said that all bar one of the company’s 263 staff resided in Queensland and 90 per cent of staff were from the Ravenswood, Charters Towers, Burdekin, and Townsville areas.

“Our hiring policy is to concentrate on people who live locally as this brings the most benefit to the area. We have also increased female participation in recent months from 14 per cent to 17 per cent as about 80 per cent of our new haulage operators are female,” he said.

“There will be over 150 contractors engaged to complete construction work over the next two years, by which time there will be over 400 permanent employees and 70 long term contractors employed here at Ravenswood Gold.”  

The Ravenswood gold operation has not been actively mining since the cessation of mining activities at the Mount Wright underground in October 2019.

It has been processing low-grade stockpiles while preparing to return to open-pit operations.

The Buck Reef West Pit is the first stage mining in the Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP), the project also includes a return to mining in the Sarsfield-Nolans Pit – last mined in 2009.