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Resolute Mining has launched the first stage of the Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP) at the Ravenswood gold mine, recommissioning a third grinding mill at the site.

Announcing approval for the upgrade, the company said Stage 1 would cost $6 million and would allow it to generate cash for subsequent development.

It involves processing beneficiated low-grade material stockpiled from previous open-pit mining at Ravenswood to produce about 80,000 ounces (oz) of gold in 2020.

Recommissioning of the third mill has commenced, and the mill is expected to be operational by the end of 2019, allowing the Nolans Processing Plant at Ravenswood to return to a processing rate of 5Mtpa.

It is the first step in the eventual upgrading of the plant to support the full Ravenswood Expansion Project, which remains under review.

Resolute says this work is demonstrating that the full REP has the potential for Ravenswood to deliver about 200,000oz of gold annually for 15 years from 2022.

Managing director and chief executive officer John Welborn highlighted the importance of the increase in processing capacity at Ravenswood and the implications of beneficiation on the potential for larger scale production over a long mine life in an upgraded REP:

“Increasing the plant capacity at Ravenswood to its historical rate of 5Mtpa and using this capacity to process available low-grade stockpiles, will deliver an immediately cashflow positive, profitable mining operation at Ravenswood,” he said.

“As a result, this solution allows Resolute to focus on the ultimate transformation of Ravenswood into a large-scale, low-cost tier one Australian gold mining operation with an exceptionally long mine life.

“The successful beneficiation trials conducted by Resolute, and the commissioning of a new beneficiation circuit at the Nolans Processing Plant, is consistent with a core strength of Resolute: mining smarter, using advanced technologies and innovative techniques to create sustainable value for all our stakeholders.

“Recently Resolute announced an increase of one million ounces of gold in Ore Reserves at Ravenswood. With almost three million ounces of gold in Ore Reserves the company is now directing its ongoing study work to focus on an optimised Expansion Project that can produce 200,000oz annually over a 15-year mine life.

“This outcome will deliver considerable economic benefits to the Ravenswood community, the Queensland Government and Resolute shareholders.”

Resolute kicks off upgrade at Ravenswood gold operation