Western Australia is home to some of the largest gold deposits in the world and so the region boasts a range of low-cost, long-life mine sites and operations. One of the most notable gold mine operations in western Australia is the 50:50 joint venture between Gold Road Resources and Gruyere Mining Company (Pty.) Ltd. Gruyere Mining Company is a wholly owned Australian subsidiary of the larger Gold Fields company. The Gruyere Gold Mine Project takes advantage of one of Australia’s largest underdeveloped Archaean orogenic gold deposits to bring continued economic prospects to both the country and the companies for the future.
The Gruyere Gold Mine Project is a Tier 1 low-cost and long-life asset, which has a current expected mine life of 10 years. The mine project has 4.05 million ounces of ore reserves, and 6.69 million mineral resources (both with 100% basis). The deposit was first discovered by Gold Road in 2013 on the southern Dorothy Hills Trend and first poured gold in July 2019. The mine is estimated to produce more than 300,000 ounces of gold per year. Under the joint venture agreement, Gold Fields has been appointed the manager to develop and operate the mine operations, whilst Gold Road has retained its responsibility for the exploration of the joint venture investments.
Just a few years after pouring its first gold, the project has now grown to have 153 million tonnes grading 1.33g per tonne for 6.69 million ounces of contained gold. This makes it one of the largest virgin discoveries in all of Australia. In 2022 the Gruyere Gold Mine Project delivered a record annual gold production of 314,647 ounces of gold, to a total of 918,479 total ounces of gold yielded from the venture as of 31st Dec 2022 (both at 100% basis). Consequently, the project is set to become one of the nation’s deepest open-cut gold mines and announced in April 2023 that the Gruyere Life-of-mine plan set out by Gold Road Resources reaffirms the sustainable production of gold at a rate of approximately 350,00 ounces per annum through to 2030 as further developments of the mine complex continue to be explored.
Operations at the Gruyere Gold Mine currently focus on one main open pit which has been developed in stages to an approximate depth of 500m below the surface. Activities at the mine site currently include loading, hauling, drilling, and blasting. All of this work is carried out by the project’s existing mining contractor, MACA and an expansive workforce of roughly 490 people using large-scale mining equipment. MACA carried out the bulk earthworks at the Gruyere mine, the first stage of the run-of-mine pad work and the construction of the tailings storage facility.
Furthermore, due to the remote nature of the mine site, a large majority of the workforce is required to commute to and from the mine every day. This commute includes a 90-minute flight bringing workers from Perth, or a regular bus service to bring those from more local communities. This bus takes roughly two hours and services local communities in Laverton and Cosmo Newberry.
In addition to mining activities, The Gruyere Gold Mine Project also includes a processing plant which has a capacity of 9.75 million tonnes per annum and treats oxide, transitional and fresh ores from the mine. The processing plant consists of a single storage gyratory crushing circuit, 14 MegaWatt (MW) semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) and a 15MW Ball Mill (SABC) grinding circuit, as well as gravity recovery. This processing also includes four 48” Knelson concentrators, a GEKKO In-Line reactor, a Pre-Leach thickener, one Leach and six Carbon-in-Leach (CIL) agitated tanks, split AARL elution circuit and a thickened downstream tailings storage facility.
Following Gold Road Resource’s announcement of the life of mine extension beyond 2030, the company is looking to further develop the mine operation to expand the existing operation into a 7-stage mine design. This development comes alongside the Gold Highway Project which is located roughly 25 kilometres west of the existing Gruyere mine site. The Gold Highway Project currently totals 14 million ounces of gold at 1.44g/t AU for 0.67 million ounces and includes an existing ore reserve of 7 million tonnes at 1.28g/t AU for 0.29 million ounces. The project is currently undergoing feasibility-level studies and is hoped to begin operations by early 2026.
Furthermore, in June 2023, The Gruyere Gold Mine Project announced that mining service provider, MACA, who is the existing mining contractor has secured a contract extension at the mine site. MACA currently provides load, haul, drill and blast, crushing, and screening services to the project, as well as light voltage and high voltage maintenance. The extension of the contract is expected by MACA to generate 850 million Australian dollars of revenue over the 5-year term. MACA are committed to working with the traditional landowners to ensure a collaborative approach to the mine operations which benefits everyone involved.
Overall, the Gruyere Gold Mine Project highlights the rich gold deposits that companies such as Gold Fields and Gold Road Resources are developing towards a future of sustained gold production. The project represents the vast community effort that projects such as these require. With an expansive workforce, pivotal mining contractors and local communities all working together; the mine project is already carving its way to being one of the most significant gold mining operations across western Australia. Furthermore, with developments across the Gold Highway project, we look forward to seeing how the companies continue to develop their joint venture in Australia to bring crucial economic benefits for many years to come.