Australian gold mining firm OceanaGold has secured the mining permit for the Wharekirauponga (WKP) project located on the North Island of New Zealand.

The move grants the company with the exclusive right to the WKP mineral resource located on Department of Conservation land, 10km north of the existing Waihi processing plant.

The permit enables OceanaGold to continue exploration activities as well as technical and environmental studies at the area.

OceanaGold president Michael Holmes said: “Receipt of the mining permit is an important step in the permitting phase for WKP. As part of the greater Waihi District Study, the WKP deposit is expected to deliver significant value for shareholders.

“WKP currently has reported Indicated resources of 421,000 gold ounces at 13.4 g/t and Inferred resources of 717,000 gold ounces at 12.0 g/t, and we expect to continue drilling there for several years to come as we advance the project through its life cycle.

“We are assessing the option of WKP as a state-of-the-art underground mining operation. The Waihi District has the potential to extend Waihi’s mine life to 2036 and beyond while providing meaningful socio-economic benefits for stakeholders.”

Underground mining envisaged at the WKP project

Based on the Waihi District Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), OceanaGold plans underground mining at the WKP project.

First production at the mine is scheduled in 2026, while processing is planned to be carried at the existing Waihi plant.

During its estimated operational life, WKP is expected to produce 190,000 to 230,000 ounces of gold annually.

OceanaGold said it will continue to drill the WKP prospect in the next few years while advancing the project through the permitting phase to commence development.

Last year, OceanaGold received resource consents to begin operations at the Martha underground project in the Waihi gold mine in the North Island of New Zealand.