New South Wales – not just coal mining
26 April 2017
Coal is the single-most important mineral in New South Wales.
But New South Wales has a long history of metal mining, mainly in the central and western part of the state. Gold was first produced in the state in the early 1850s. For several decades from the 1880s, Broken Hill – which produced silver, lead and zinc – dominated mining in Australia and was a globally important supplier of these three metals.
Following the downturn of the past few years, metal mining in New South Wales is recovering.
For example, at the Cowal gold mine, near West Wyalong, construction is to commence in coming months on deepening of the existing open pit, increasing the tailings-storage area and upgrading the leach circuit within the processing plant. These developments will result in an extension of the mine life by eight years, to 2032.
Annual gold production at Cowal is around 250,000 ounces. With the current gold price at around A$1,600 ounce and the all-in sustaining cost at Cowal less than A$1,200 per ounce, the operation generates good margins for the operator, Evolution Mining.
At Hera (between Cobar and Parkes), construction is likely to commence by late 2017 on development of a new underground mining area, known as North Pod.
Hera produces gold (around 50,000 ounces per year), as well as lead, zinc and a small amount of silver.
In addition, the operator (Aurelia Metals) is undertaking a scoping study on the development of the Nymagee copper-lead-zinc project deposit, a few kilometres north of Hera.
Newcrest Mining is currently undertaking a pre-feasibility study for the expansion of its gold-copper processing plant at Cadia Valley, near Orange. If confirmed, construction in relation to the expansion will commence by 2019.
Gold production at Cadia Valley this year is expected to be 750,000-800,000 ounces. It is the largest gold mine in New South Wales and one of the largest in Australia. It is also low cost.
At Broken Hill, the Chinese-controlled company, Perilya, plans to open the Broken Hill North underground mine, a $40-million project. Subject to government approvals, construction will start next year.
The mine has been on care-and-maintenance since 2008. With Perilya’s resources dwindling at its other Broken Hill sites, the reopening is seen as critical for the company’s future operations at Broken Hill.
In a smaller ($3 million) project, the other Broken Hill mining company, CBH Resources, plans to extend its tailings-storage facility and develop a concrete-batching plant at its Rasp mine.
In addition to expansions of existing mines, there are several major projects entailing new or redeveloped mines. These include Dubbo Zirconia by Alkane Resources (zirconium and rare earths); Bowdens by Silver Mines (silver); Kempfield by Argent Minerals (silver and other metals); Woodlawn by Heron Resources (copper and zinc); and Syerston by Clean TeQ (nickel, cobalt and scandium).
The financial environment has improved in the past year for for developments such as those discussed here. For many gold operations (such as Cowal and Cadia Valley), current prices are favourable in relation to costs. In addition, most base-metal prices have improved over the past year, e.g. zinc by over 35%, lead by over 20% and copper by over 10%.
Our mining database gives details of key people in mining companies in Australia (such as Evolution Mining, Aurelia Minerals, Newcrest Mining, Perilya and CBH Resources).
The Western Australia and Queensland sections of the database are already available.
The section covering the other states (including NSW) will be released in May.
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