Gold explorer Orminex (ASX: ONX) is now officially a gold miner after the company said it is commencing gold mining operations at its Comet Vale project in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
The Comet Vale gold project hosts a JORC-compliant indicated and inferred mineral resource of 750,000 tonnes at 8.4g/t for a contained 203,100 ounces of gold.
As a contrast comparison, Orminex reported that a parcel of 61,158 tonnes of ore from the Sand Prince West and Princess Grace open pit was “contract mined” and toll treated at a third-party mill since its mineral resource estimate was prepared, yielding 3,949 ounces of gold which works out to 2.17 g/t in reconciled head grade.
The parcel was mined from the open pit at Comet Vale but Orminex is confident that by mining from deeper underground can yield higher gold yields.
Since 2002, Comet Vale has been the subject of extensive exploration and development activity aimed at targeting the area’s gold potential. The vast majority of exploration activity has been focused on the definition of a mineable inventory at the Sand George deposit and an evaluation of various mining options for feasibility studies for the development of an underground mine.
All that work has now culminated in Orminex confirming that its underground mining contractor, GBF Mining, has commenced mining which marks the commencement of a 27-month mine plan.
Orminex says that the ongoing development will provide access for stope development of an open pit mine and descend down to the “6th level approximately 200m below surface” and adds that all mining activity will be conducted by “a small, efficient crew” for the duration of the entire 27 months currently forecast.
Orminex said that the move to commence production at Comet Vale is a “key aspect of the company’s mineral ventures model, aimed at sourcing, funding and mining high-grade gold projects”.
In preparation for underground mining operations, two open pits have been developed at Comet Vale. Orminex says that a portal will be cut into the north-west corner of the Sand Prince West pit to provide access to the underground levels via a decline.
The current plan focuses on dewatering the existing workings and developing the decline down to the 6th level to access what is anticipated to be higher-grade material.
Additionally, Orminex said it may take the step of expanding the resource inventory by conducting further exploration activity at Comet Vale. As a possible future move, the gold miner said that it is considering “acquiring Orminex West and forming a Comet Vale joint venture” although a firm decision has not been made just yet.
For the time being, Orminex’s mining activity will see ore excavated by GBF being toll-treated by Eastern Goldfields Milling Services and processed at the Burbanks mill located near Coolgardie approximately 150 kilometres from Comet Vale.