Gold revival a boost to hotel
The Menzies Hotel is one of a handful of watering holes along the 230km stretch of highway connecting the gold capital of KalgoorlieBoulder to Leonora in the heart of the northern Goldfields.
And the prospector who has owned it for the past decade says the revival of gold exploration in recent years has brought customers back to the pub, which has run continuously since 1902 and been the only operating tavern in the town of the same name for 95 years.
The Menzies Hotel has secured a tentative booking from the company mining the historic Comet Vale gold project nearby for the next two years, keeping the hotel’s top floor full and its kitchen busy.
Added to tourist traffic for Antony Gormley’s statues on Lake Ballard, 50km up the road, publican Dave McKenna said turnover had doubled since 2014, when the collapse of commodity prices caused the virtual desertion of the nearby Yilgarn iron ore industry and the flight of investment from the region.
“(The years) 2013, 14 and 15, the whole of the Goldfields was quiet and I think Australia in general was quiet,” he said. “I think the area is more stable. “There’s always been gold there and we’ve got a bit more aggressive players in and the gold mines are starting to open up again, so that’s been the turnaround.
“There’s been a small amount of drilling around Menzies itself but probably around the whole of the northern Goldfields the drilling has increased (and) there’s a lot of drill rigs out exploring for various metals, not only gold.”
Another explorer announced yesterday its intention to pivot to the Menzies district as WA School of Mines graduate Christian Price took the reins at minnow gold developer Resources and Energy Group as its acting chief executive.
Resources and Energy Group will raise $5 million and pay up to $2.1 million in cash and shares to a variety of parties, most of them associated with the company’s director Richard Poole, to grab hold of what it has dubbed the East Menzies gold project, pending shareholder approval.
East Menzies consists of a host of tenements covering 103sqkm and more than 400 historic workings within a few kilometres of the town, 130km north of KalgoorlieBoulder, with reported historic production from the leases of about 100,000 ounces of gold.
Mr McKenna said he was positive the revival of exploration, combined with civil projects and tourism, would keep business far steadier than it had been in recent years.
“I can see this holding for some time,” he said.
Menzies Hotel manager Laurice Gaitau takes a break in between serving customers.