New golden frontier in Western Australian desert as precious metal shines near record highs - ABC News
Australia's biggest new gold mine is officially open, bringing with it a new golden frontier in the West Australian outback.
The $621 million Gruyere mine in the Great Victoria Desert is 650 kilometres north-east of the historic gold rush town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Until the deposit was discovered beneath the desert sands in October 2013, the remote region had seen very little mineral exploration and only a handful of geologists believed there was significant potential for the precious metal.
But as the open-pit mine at Gruyere has grown out of the dusty bush landscape over the past two years, so too has the hope that rich new discoveries will be made now there is the infrastructure available.
The construction phase of the Gruyere project involved building a sealed airstrip to fly in the 350-strong workforce, a new mining camp and a 200-kilometre-long gas pipeline to bring natural gas inland from WA's north-west shelf to power the gigantic processing plant.
The mine is co-owned by Australian company Gold Road Resources, which found the deposit, and South African mining giant Gold Fields.
- The Gruyere mine, 200 kilometres east of Laverton in WA's Goldfields, poured its first gold in June
- The deposit was discovered in 2013 and contains an estimated 3.9 million ounces in reserves
- Western Australia's Mines Minister Bill Johnston officially opened the Gruyere mine on Tuesday
Hunt is on for next big discovery
Gold Road's managing director, Duncan Gibbs, said the company has been spending about $25 million on exploration this year to look for the next big find.
"We've made some small discoveries along the way," he said.
"We're certainly out there, really out there looking for the next multi-million-ounce deposit."
The first gold bar was poured at Gruyere in June and the ramp-up in production has been continuing.
Once it hits full production, Gruyere is expected to produce about 300,000 ounces of gold a year for the next 12 years.
Aboriginal landowners to share in wealth
The traditional landowners hope to be among the biggest beneficiaries of one of Australia's biggest virgin discoveries.
The Yilka native title claim takes in about 100 people living at the Cosmos Newberry Aboriginal community, 70km west of Gruyere.
There are 23 employed at the mine and Yilka elder, Harvey Murray, said he hoped Gruyere would deliver even more employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.
"We have a saying in our language … it means 'we give to you then you give to us'," he said
"That's how Aboriginal culture works.
"When we have food, we share food, they share food back.
"The same goes for this mine. We share with you our land and our culture, and you must share with us some of your profits and your employment and your training.
"I hope this relationship can build-up stronger and we can go the three of us and have a great future together."
'Modern-day gold rush': Mines Minister
The ceremony at Gruyere came just days after Australian miner, Saracen Mineral Holdings, completed its purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Kalgoorlie's Super Pit gold mine for $1.1 billion.
WA's Mines Minister, Bill Johnston, said the state has been reaping the rewards of near-record prices for the precious metal, saying the Gruyere development was an example of the "entrepreneurial spirit" in the mining industry.
Gruyere was the second gold mine he has officially opened in the past week after doing the honours at the Jaurdi project, which will support about 40 jobs for the next five years.
"I think it's fair to say there's a modern day gold boom going on in Western Australia at the moment," Mr Johnston said.
"We're seeing all these new gold mines opening up and there's more exploration going into the ground as well.
"We all know that to find a new mine you have to look and we're really pleased at the amount of exploration, especially greenfields exploration as well as continuing development of existing mines."
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