Productive junior gold explorer Empire Resources (ASX: ERL) has embarked on its third treatment campaign at Lakewood Mill, the designated treatment facility to process Empire’s gold production from its flagship Penny’s Find gold mine close to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia (WA).
Empire’s third campaign at Lakewood is expected to add a further 10,000 tonnes of high-grade ore to its processing capability and to bring its total capacity to 30,000 tonnes.
So far, Empire has processed its gold ore at an average head grade of 3.09g/t (grams per tonne) of gold (Au), after recovering a total of 7,837 ounces to date.
From the geological results received so far, Empire has confirmed that its “grade is increasing with depth” and hopes to estimate new underground resources in the region of 248,000 tonnes at 7.04g/t Au for 56,000 ounces.
Today’s announcement raises Empire’s average calculated head grade to 5.01g/t of gold with 55% of its gold being recovered through gravity.
Over the course of its three treatment campaigns, Empire has managed to raise the calculated head grade from around 1.8g/t to over 5g/t and expects to continue seeing improvements in processing efficiency as it explores for gold at greater depths.
Empire reports that when compared to the previous treatment campaign, it has generated a 40% improvement in its recovery rate which “confirms test work showing an increasing percentage of free gold in the ore as it becomes fresher,” according to Empire.
With the treatment campaign now in full swing, Empire will publish a final processing summary sometime in early March once mill reconciliations have been finalised.
Empire’s Penny’s Find open pit has now reached a depth of 65 metres with fresh high-grade ore being stockpiled in preparation for the next treatment campaign due in April 2018.
As well progressing its treatment capacity, Empire has also taken the step of pausing further debt repayments courtesy of a Repayment Deed with Blue Cap Mining, who has agreed to reschedule the timing of Empire’s debt repayments.
The move alleviates Empire’s ongoing debt burden and ensures that further payments will not be required “until proceeds of the current treatment campaign are received.”