$150m gold mine expansion key to town’s future
A $150 MILLION gold mining expansion looks set to secure the future of one of Queensland's most historic towns as Australian miner Resolute considers its Ravenswood Expansion Project.
It is a plan the residents of Ravenswood say must proceed if the town, where gold was discovered in the 1860s, is to survive.
Resolute Mining has considered the project for four years as it develops a strategic review into reopening and redeveloping some of the town's open cut mining pits and closes a nearby exhausted underground mine.
But it has also been focused on its gold mining operations in Africa where it has been making repairs to its Syama gold mine in Mali as well as acquiring another West African gold mining operation for almost $400 million last year.
Ravenswood's Imperial Hotel manager John Schluter said the project would revitalise the community and help businesses like the hotel.
"We are really looking forward to it. They have been talking about it for a while," Mr Schluter said.
"We are used to things taking their time out this way.
"It's a bit like the hydro-electric project at the Burdekin Falls Dam - it's been talked about for years."
But Mr Schluter said he and other residents were confident the project will happen.
The company had spent millions of dollars relocating and building a school away from an area that would be mined, he said.
"That's all a good signal," Mr Schluter said.
Resolute Mining managing director John Welborn said he hoped a decision would be made over the next three months to proceed with the project.
He said the issue was how the firm would raise the finance to complete the project in light of unscheduled repairs for its Syama mine and a need to refinance some of the lending for its Toro Gold West African acquisition.
"I am confident in our ability to progress the Ravens-wood Expansion Project.
"I think that work can start in 2020," Mr Welborn said.
"We have been pouring gold at Ravenswood for 15 years … We don't have any plan to change our Australian work."
If it proceeds, Ravenswood is set for a big lift in production, as well as securing 380 jobs - about 280 jobs in operations and another 100 jobs during construction.
Over the past 15 years gold production from Ravenswood has averaged 115,000 ounces, while the expansion project targets 200,000 ounces with a mine life out to 2032, making it one of the nation's largest producers.
Overall, the town has yielded three million ounces of gold.