Australia-based Westgold Resources has secured the approval of its board for the expansion of the Big Bell gold project located in Cue, Western Australia.

The expansion of the Big Bell gold mine will involve the implementation of a new long hole open stoping (LHOS) operation beneath the existing sub level cave.

Located 25km west of Cue and 50km from Westgold Resources’ Tuckabianna processing hub, the gold mine has produced approximately three million ounces (oz) of gold at a rate exceeding 4,000oz per vertical metre.

According to Westgold Resources, the Big Bell LHOS will prolong the base load feed for an initial period of 16 years. This extension will be achieved by tapping into the deeper extensions of the Big Bell orebody without affecting the productivity from the existing sub level cave operation.

The first ore production from the LHOS is anticipated in the first half of FY 2025 after an immediate start of the development phase.

The expanded Big Bell gold mine is projected to have an average annual gold production of 93,000oz (93koz) over its mine life, with a peak annual production rate of 134koz in 2030.

Westgold Resources managing director Wayne Bramwell said: “This expansion underwrites the future of our Murchison operations and provides Westgold with further optionality to leverage our existing processing capital. The economics of making our biggest mine bigger is compelling.

“Big Bell will provide baseload feed for our Tuckabianna and Bluebird processing hubs across its planned 16-year mine life and its ore will be supplemented with high-grade, high margin ores from the Bluebird mine at Meekatharra, and the recently announced Great Fingall mine near Cue.”

The Big Bell mine, which is an integral part of Westgold Resources’ Murchison operations, provides most of the ore tonnage needed to feed the Tuckabianna mill. The surplus feed is processed at the Bluebird mill.