The nation’s golden centre

BRIGHT FUTURE: The Cadia Valley Operations processing plant at night. Newcrest has plans in place to make the mine the biggest in Australia, displacing the Boddington mine in Western Australia. Photo: FILE PHOTO

NEWCREST is finalising plans which will seeCadia become the biggest gold mine in Australia.

Less than three years after receiving approval and licensing for the Cadia East site –developed at a costof $2 billion – the mining giant is hoping to get a governmental green lighttoexceed existing production limits.

If that comes to fruition itcould boost Cadia Vallery Operations (CVO) output bymore than a quarter and propel thesite 20 kilometres south of Orange past the Boddington mine in Western Australia as the nation’s biggest gold producer.

CVO’s Ridgeway and Cadia East minesproduced670,000ounces of gold in the 2015-16 financial year,which will rise to between 730,000 and820,000 ounces in the next 12 months.

A 25 per cent boost to output could lift that to around one million ounces, putting it well ahead of Boddington, whichwillproducebetween 725,000 and 775,000 ounces of gold this year.

The news will be a lift to CVOmanagement and staff, who have endured an inauspicious 2016.

In January more than 120 CVOworkers were made redundant, with another 300 set to be handed the same fate at the end of the year as operations cease at the Ridgeway site.

The plans to liftoutput at Cadia come less than a yearafterNewcrest received approvalto raise processing capabilities at the mine to 32 million tonnes a year from the present 27 million tonne limit.

The mine is currently running processing around 22million tonnes in 12 months.

The total upgrade cost has not been finalised, although it is expected to run to the hundreds of millions of dollars, Newcrest officials said.

Cadiais the thirdlargest gold-copper deposit in the world, ranking behind Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoy and West Papua’s Grasberg.

Newcrest has approval to mine at the Cadia East for the next 21 years, though CVO general managerTony McPaulsaid the lifespan of the site was in the 30-to-50-years range.​

Along with the planned boost to output at Cadia,Newcrest is also working to lift production at the Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea as well asdevelopnew mines in countries such as PNG and Fiji.

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