Gold miner Empire Resources explores underground as production nears

Gold miner Empire Resources ERL ASX underground production

Burgeoning gold mining group Empire Resources (ASX: ERL) has scored an unusual double, simultaneously ramping up early production and underground exploration at its Penny’s Find mine 50 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie.

High grade ore from the bottom of the open pit is now being trucked and processed at two separate mills and Empire Managing Director, Mr David Sargeant today announced that diamond core drills will soon begin probing the deeper reaches of the mine’s known underground resource as part of a feasibility study for the mine to go underground.

“We believe there is substantial upside at Penny’s Find once a feasibility study into development of the underground resource has been completed,’’ said Mr Sargeant.

“This along with exploration potential at depth bodes well for the long term future of the project.”

It is already known that gold mineralisation beneath the open pit extends to at least 250m but the deposit remains open at depth with an underground inferred and Indicated resource inventory of 170,000 tonnes @ 5.40g/t Au.

Empire Resources ERL grade control drilling Penny's Find gold second round
Grade control drilling 30 to 60 metres at Penny’s Find.

The new drilling will make use of six diamond pre-collars prepared during some previous shallower drilling performed to enable good grade control.

Empire said the aim of the diamond drilling was three-fold:

  • To convert some inferred resources to indicated.
  • To find out more geotechnical data for underground mining studies.
  • To add additional resources from the deeper drill holes.

Empire is well placed to take advantage of any positive exploration results with the high Australian dollar gold price coinciding with the rapid ramp up of processing higher grade ore from the open pit mine.

Ore is now being trucked to the Lakewood toll milling facility, on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie, and under an earlier agreement to Maximus Resources’ Burbanks toll milling facility at Coolgardie.

The Lakewood mill has the capacity to treat up to 15,000 tonnes of Penny’s Find ore during September alone, dramatically ramping up maiden revenue from the mine.

So far more than 20,000 tonnes of ore have been produced from the Penny’s Find open pit and up to 150,000 tonnes of ore will be supplied for processing at Burbanks.

Empire has certainly grabbed the attention of gold investors, offering a rare combination of imminent production cash flow and the ability to greatly extend mine life courtesy of the underground feasibility study.

John is a highly experienced business journalist and formerly chief business writer for the Herald Sun. He has covered Federal politics in Canberra, was Los Angeles Bureau chief for News Limited and was also chief of staff for the Herald Sun. He has covered a wide range of small and large cap ASX stocks and has a special interest in mining and technology.