Mil­len­nium Min­er­als

Mil­len­nium Min­er­als chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Cash speaks with The Aus­tralian Min­ing Re­view about reach­ing its 100,000 ounce per an­num run rate and what else lies on the hori­zon.

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - JES­SICA CUM­MINS

MIL­LEN­NIUM Min­er­als’ flag­ship Nul­lagine gold project in the heart of the Pilbara com­prises six min­ing cen­tres along a 40km cor­ri­dor.

Host­ing a to­tal re­source base of 1.1 mil­lion ounces of gold in the un­der­ex­plored Mos­quito Creek Belt, the project has pro­duced 400,000oz since oper­a­tions com­menced in 2012.

Gold pro­duc­tion has av­er­aged at be­tween 75,000 and 80,000 ounces per year within the 264km min­ing ten­e­ments.

Dur­ing the Septem­ber quar­ter the com­pany reached its 100,000ozpa run-rate tar­get at Nul­lagine three months ahead of sched­ule.

Mil­len­nium Min­er­als chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Cash said while the com­pany felt enor­mous pres­sure to de­mon­strate its growth ini­tia­tives would de­liver in the long run, reach­ing this goal was a mas­sive mile­stone for the com­pany.

“It has been a key el­e­ment of our growth strat­egy for the past 12 months,” Mr Cash said.

“Putting all the nec­es­sary foun­da­tions in place to achieve this goal – the ex­plo­ration pro­grams, the cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives, and the sul­phide ex­pan­sion study– meant that we had to nav­i­gate some pretty tough pe­ri­ods where our gold pro­duc­tion was rel­a­tively low and our op­er­at­ing costs were high.

“We re­mained re­ally fo­cussed – we were con­fi­dent that once we had the right foun­da­tions in place we would be much bet­ter po­si­tioned to de­liver stronger, more re­li­able and lower cost gold pro­duc­tion.

“And that work re­ally paid off – our growth ini­tia­tives com­bined to de­liver im­proved head grade, stronger min­ing rates and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased mill through­put dur­ing the Septem­ber quar­ter.

“There was an enor­mous sense of ex­cite­ment and re­lief amongst the team when we clicked over the 100,000ozpa run rate, and the ex­cite­ment con­tin­ued to build as we be­came more and more cer­tain that we were op­er­at­ing at a sus­tain­able level and we could main­tain 100,000ozpa well into the fu­ture.”

Ex­plo­ration & Growth

The com­pany’s ex­plo­ration strat­egy has re­mained fo­cussed on mul­ti­ple de­posits at Nul­lagine, in­clud­ing the Golden Gate and Five Mile min­ing cen­tres to progress the project’s mine life.

Mr Cash said its re­cent dis­cov­ery at Golden Ea­gle South was an ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment that could be a “gen­uine game-changer” for the com­pany.

“It was the re­sult of a ma­jor new re­view we’ve com­menced into all the his­tor­i­cal ex­plo­ration datasets that we’ve col­lected at Nul­lagine – in­clud­ing spec­tral, mag­netic, sur­face geo­chem­istry and ra­dio­met­ric sur­vey data – and specif­i­cally look­ing for ar­eas where two or more datasets con­verge to show po­ten­tial anoma­l­ism,” he said.

“When we com­menced this re­view, Golden Ea­gle South West was one of the first such ar­eas we iden­ti­fied – with 3D mag­netic in­ver­sion, struc­tural anal­y­sis and soil geo­chem­istry data all in­di­cat­ing com­pelling ex­plo­ration po­ten­tial.

“It was a green­fields tar­get with no pre­vi­ous ex­plo­ration con­ducted so it rep­re­sented our first real test to see whether our new ex­plo­ration tar­get­ing pro­gram had merit.”

Mr Cash said while the first drill hole re­turned a low grade of 12m at 0.87 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, there was proof gold min­er­al­i­sa­tion was in the area.

“We then drilled a se­cond hole 80m to the north-east that in­ter­sected two sig­nif­i­cant zones of high-grade gold min­er­al­i­sa­tion, the first re­turn­ing 1m at 34.00g/t gold and the se­cond re­turn­ing 5m at 17.86g/t gold, in­clud­ing 2m at 42.35g/t gold,” he said.

Once Mil­len­nium con­firmed the pres­ence of high-grade gold within the re­gion, Mr Cash said the com­pany pri­ori­tised the re­gion for fur­ther fol­low up work start­ing with grav­ity sur­veys.

“Now that we also have con­fir­ma­tion that our data re­view can suc­cess­fully de­liver new ex­plo­ration tar­gets, we’re ac­tively in­ter­ro­gat­ing this data for ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

The com­pany’s ex­ten­sive ex­plo­ration pro­gram also tar­geted the po­ten­tial for new dis­cov­er­ies at depth given the lim­ited drilling be­low the shal­low de­posits, in­clud­ing Bar­tons, Hope Town, All Na­tions, Junc­tion, Lit­tle Won­der, Cen­tral and Round Hill.

Bar­tons has paved the way for the first un­der­ground mine at Nul­lagine with first ore ex­pected to be de­liv­ered to the pro­cess­ing plant in De­cem­ber.

The com­pany has now repli­cated the same process at Bar­tons to Shear­ers and Golden Gate with the po­ten­tial of fu­ture un­der­ground min­ing.

Room For Po­ten­tial

Within the far north-east­ern cor­ner of the min­ers land­hold­ing at Nul­lagine was Mil­len­nium’s Golden Gate min­ing cen­tre, which was be­ing as­sessed as its se­cond po­ten­tial un­der­ground de­vel­op­ment after Bar­tons.

Mr Cash said it con­tained three sep­a­rate gold de­posits – ABC Reef, D Reef, and Har­rier.

“To com­plete this as­sess­ment we’re cur­rently un­der­tak­ing min­ing stud­ies and cal­cu­lat­ing a maiden ore re­serve to de­ter­mine the eco­nomic and tech­ni­cal mer­its of the pro­posed mine de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

“We ex­pect these as­sess­ments will be com­pleted to­wards the end of 2018, which will en­able us to make a de­ci­sion on whether to pro­ceed with the mine de­vel­op­ment in early 2019.”

To date, the com­pany has con­ducted deep drilling be­low four of Nul­lagine’s 30 known gold de­posits with pos­i­tive re­sults.

“We be­lieve there is re­ally strong po­ten­tial for deeper gold min­er­al­i­sa­tion to be dis­cov­ered at Nul­lagine, we just need to get the drilling done,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s hard to tell ex­actly where the ‘next big thing’ will be found, but deep drilling is cer­tainly a core com­po­nent of our ex­plo­ration strat­egy go­ing for­ward and we be­lieve it will be an im­por­tant source of new dis­cov­er­ies in the re­gion.”

Sul­phide Re­sources Ex­pan­sion Plan

In April, the com­pany an­nounced its plan to ex­pand the Nul­lagine gold project to process the sul­phide min­eral re­source at a cost of $15 mil­lion.

Pre­vi­ously, the com­pany had never had the abil­ity to ex­tract gold from the ore through its ex­ist­ing car­bon-in-Leach pro­cess­ing plant.

“As part of our ef­forts to in­crease our pro­duc­tion pro­file and ex­tend the mine life at Nul­lagine, we com­menced stud­ies on how we could cap­i­talise on this large sul­phide min­eral re­source in­ven­tory,” Mr Cash said.

“Our ini­tial stud­ies were based on a plant con­fig­u­ra­tion com­pris­ing an in­te­grated car­bon-in-leach and flota­tion cir­cuit.

“How­ever in Fe­bru­ary this year we de­liv­ered a ma­jor break­through, with stud­ies in­di­cat­ing we could de­liver a much more cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion by sim­ply adding a small mod­u­lar con­cen­trat­ing cir­cuit to the tail-end of the ex­ist­ing CIL plant.”

He said pre­lim­i­nary fi­nan­cial es­ti­mates in­di­cated the new pro­cess­ing op­tion had the po­ten­tial to sub­stan­tially re­duce the $40-$46 mil­lion pro­jected cap­i­tal cost of the orig­i­nal flota­tion cir­cuit path­way to now be in the or­der of $15 mil­lion.

“We’ve now com­menced or­der­ing key items to com­plete the pro­cess­ing plant up­grade with the planned com­mence­ment of con­struc­tion in De­cem­ber 2018 and com­mis­sion­ing tar­geted to com­mence late Q1 2019.

“The abil­ity to process sul­phide ore also opens up new ex­plo­ration op­por­tu­ni­ties for Mil­len­nium, with a num­ber of very com­pelling his­tor­i­cal sul­phide in­ter­cepts never pre­vi­ously fol­lowed-up due to the lack of a pro­cess­ing op­tion.”

Mov­ing For­ward

Now that Mil­len­nium has achieved its 100,000ozpa run rate, Mr Cash said the next com­po­nent of its growth strat­egy was aimed at ex­pand­ing its mine life to more than five years.

“Based on our ex­ist­ing ore re­serves we have a cur­rent mine life of around three years, so over the com­ing 12 months we will be fo­cussed on com­plet­ing the sul­phide plant ex­pan­sion and con­tin­u­ing our ex­plo­ration pro­gram to de­liver new dis­cov­er­ies,” he said.

“I am very hope­ful that by the end of next year we will be well on the way to achiev­ing our five year mine life.”

Al­lim­ages:Mil­len­ni­umMin­er­als.

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