New gold resurrects Beta Hunt - Western Australian
The discovery of a third major gold zone has given the historic Beta Hunt mine near Kambalda a new lease of life, nearly 50 years since it opened as a nickel mine.
Private Australian company Salt Lake Mining resurrected Beta Hunt two years ago and it is now in the hands of Canada’s Royal Nickel Corporation after they completed a $C11.2 million cash-and-scrip takeover last month.
The key was Salt Lake negotiating gold rights with South Africa’s Gold Fields, via an undisclosed royalty, which is looking like a master stroke amid this year’s gold price rally.
Salt Lake’s business development manager Steve Devlin, a former St Ives geologist, said diamond drilling had intersected two distinct gold lodes containing more than 24m of mineralisation in excess of 2g/t.
The Fletcher shear zone, as it has been named, was discovered within 300m of existing workings with the help of the State Government’s co-funded drilling campaign, which bankrolled an 858m hole to the tune of $116,000.
Mr Devlin said the results “matched our theory perfectly”, proving the Fletcher zone is a repeat structure of the high-grade Western Flanks and A zone at Beta Hunt.
“This is potentially a 40-year mine ... it mirrors (the same area as) Beta Hunt,” he said. “It’s going to take time and money to explore but we’ve already pieced together the geology. Our hope is we’ve found a whole new Beta Hunt mine.”
The optimism is being driven by a review of historical data, mostly drilling completed by Western Mining Corporation’s nickel division, which found more than 200 drill holes with gold hits of 1m at 15g/t or better.
Beta Hunt opened as a nickel mine in 1973, barely 1km from the Silver Lake shaft that was Australia’s first nickel sulphide mine and launched the Kambalda nickel boom after its discovery in 1966.
Even closer to Beta Hunt is Red Hill, only 500m away, the historic gold mine on which the original town was founded and produced 40,000oz at 20g/t between 1897 and 1907.
Beta Hunt is also along strike from Gold Fields’ 1Moz Invincible discovery, considered one of the best finds in WA in years.
The underground decline at Beta Hunt stretches 8km to the bottom of the mine, 900m vertical below the surface.
To replicate the underground development would cost $300 million to $500 million.
Beta Hunt general manager Chris Otto said production in the Western Flanks gold zone was due to begin in September.
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