Empire Resources (ASX: ERL) has topped up its cash reserves after its gold head grade exceeded the company’s initial estimate during the latest toll treatment campaign for its Penny’s Find ore in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
During this latest troll treatment campaign at the Lakewood Mill, an average head grade of 6.55 grams per tonne gold was achieved – up from the previously expected 6.03g/t gold.
This was a whopping 111% rise on the average head grade of 3.09g/t achieved during the December quarter last year.
Total gold sales attributable to the Penny’s Find joint venture exceeded A$8.5 million after 4,906 ounces of the precious metal was produced and sold for around A$1,690 per ounce and higher.
In this third campaign, 26,057 tonnes of ore was treated with some gold grades hitting 10g/t. Additionally about 56% of gold was picked up in the gravity circuit.
The next toll treatment campaign is due to begin next month.
Penny’s Find to go underground
Empire has a feasibility study underway to investigate the potential of moving the Penny’s Find operation underground.
Late last year, the company announced an updated underground resource for the project of 248,000t grading 7.04g/t gold for 56,000oz of contained gold.
The resource sits directly under the open pit and extends 250m below ground with mineralisation remaining open at depth.
As part of the feasibility study, Empire is hoping to firm up a 10-year mine life.
In mid-November last year, Empire appointed Stephen Rodgers to manage the study. According to Empire, Mr Rodgers has extensive experience in open pit and underground mining operations after managing similar developments across Australia. He is also familiar with Penny’s Find after supervising the open pit commissioning and early production phases.
“We believe there is substantial upside at Penny’s Find once a feasibility study into development of the underground resource has been completed,” Empire managing director David Sargeant said.
“This, along with the exploration potential at depth, bodes well for the long-term future of the project,” he added.
Penny’s Find is operated under a joint venture, with Empire holding a 60% interest and Brimstone Resources possessing the remaining 40%.