Empire Resources (ASX: ERL) has boosted its average gold grade more than 95% to 6.03 grams per tonne, with occasional grades exceeding 10g/t gold, in its latest toll treatment campaign of ore from its flagship Penny’s Find gold operations in Western Australia’s goldfields.
The average gold grade achieved in the December quarter was 3.09g/t gold with Empire recovering 7,837oz to be sold into the market.
During the third campaign at the Lakewood Mill, 26,057 tonnes of ore was treated, with some gold grades tipping 10g/t. The campaign also led to an increase of gold picked up in the gravity circuit from 40% in previous campaigns to 56%.
According to Empire, this confirms earlier test work, which indicated the free gold would rise as the ore becomes fresher.
The company claims this “strong performance” was despite issues with inclement weather which had impacted the amount of ore milled.
Gold from the campaign will be sold at A$1,690 per ounce or more, with ongoing mining resulting in fresh ore stockpiles in preparation for the upcoming April treatment campaign.
During the December quarter last year, 84,367t of ore was fed through Lakewood and Burbanks mills, with grade gradually increasing with each campaign as mined ore was extracted from deeper sections of the open pit.
Underground potential at Penny’s Find
A feasibility study is underway at the project into progressing the open pit operation into an underground mine with a minimum 10-year life.
In December last year, Empire reported an underground resource for Penny’s Find of 248,000t grading 7.04g/t gold for 56,000oz of the precious metal.
The underground resource is directly beneath the open pit and has been identified to a 250m depth, with mineralisation remaining open.
Empire holds a 60% interest in Penny’s Find with Brimstone Resources owning the other 40%.
The market reacted positively to today’s news with the company’s share price soaring more than 6% to reach A$0.017 in late morning trade.