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Gold Road Resources is weighing up an expansion of the Gruyere open pit gold mine in Western Australia as its joint venture with Gold Fields increases production at the site in 2021.
Gold Road managing director and chief executive officer Duncan Gibbs flagged the potential for underground mining below the Gruyere pit.
"Through 2020 we have been considering an expansion of the open pit to exploit some of the 1.2 million ounce indicated mineral resource located below the current open pit design," he said.
"Looking at longer term opportunities, we are in the early stages of considering the potential for underground mining below the Gruyere pit.
"A $5 million deep drilling program has been committed for 2021 with the objective of establishing the potential scale of the Gruyere orebody at depth."
Gibbs said reporting of an increased ore reserve will also be completed in the second half of 2021.
Gold Road co-owns the Gruyere gold mine with Gold Fields under a joint venture.
Company chairman Tim Netscher said the Tier 1 mine has a 10-year lifespan and the company was looking to build on its first successful year of production.
"Despite the unprecedented global events of the past 12 months that supported a strong gold price, 2020 was a successful year for Gold Road," he said.
"Annual production [at Gruyere] is expected to lift from 258,173 ounces produced in 2020 to a sustainable 350,000 ounces by 2023."
Netscher said he was grateful to be part of Western Australia's world-leading performance in warding off the COVID-19 virus, commending his company's vigilance.
"2020 saw the company build and strengthen its business which has enabled Gold Road to launch into 2021 off a strong foundation with positive momentum," he said.
Such momentum can be seen in the company's commitment to more sustainable operations, as Gibbs outlined how Gold Road has improved their standing in the area.
"Gold Road is committed to becoming an ESG (environmental, social and governance) leader in our sector… At our Yamarna exploration facility we installed a solar farm and battery storage solution that now provides 70 percent of the daily power requirement, with reduced greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
"In late 2020, the Gruyere (joint venture) signed contracts with APA Group to deliver a renewable energy hybrid microgrid as an expansion of the electricity supply agreement.
"The increased installed power generation capacity will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 16,000 tonnes (of carbon emission equivalents) per annum, with an approximate five per cent reduction in power cost, compared to gas-fired engines."
Gold Road will continue to explore Yamarna tenements in Western Australia this year, and will attribute $26 million of its $27 million exploration budget to the area.