Restart date for underground work at Cadia unknown after earthquake

DATE UNKNOWN: Newcrest Limited has slashed production targets after an earthquake put underground work on hold.
DATE UNKNOWN: Newcrest Limited has slashed production targets after an earthquake put underground work on hold.

NEWCREST Mining has said it no longer expects Cadia Valley Operations to meet its production targets following Good Friday’s earthquake, with underground work to remain on hold.

At 2.30am on Friday, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake struck around four kilometres west of the Cadia mine. Around 60 staff were evacuated safely.

The NSW Mining Inspectorate has issued a prohibition notice which prevents Newcrest from mining at the site.

A date when underground work will recommence is still to be determined, but the production outage is not expected to continue past June 30.

Newcrest on Tuesday released a statement which cast severe doubt over the mine’s chances of reaching its production targets for the financial year.

Newcrest produced 1.23 million ounces of gold between July and December, 2017, putting it on track to meet its full-year production target of between 2.35 million and 2.6 million ounces.

The cessation of underground work following Friday’s earthquake appears to have put paid to that goal.

“Cadia is not expected to meet its production guidance for the 2017 financial year,” the statement read.

“Mine operations will only recommence when it has been assessed as safe to do so.”

Initial reports by engineering staff reveal there was “no major damage” to the mine, however crushing equipment, conveyor belts and some parts of the mine are still being assessed.

“Newcrest has been working with the New South Wales Mining Inspectorate who has approved access to the mine for the purpose of re-establishing critical services, conducting inspections and undertaking engineering assessments of existing ground support and other key infrastructure,” the statement read.

Newcrest said the earthquake hadn’t interrupted work on the surface and staff at the Cadia site had been processing stockpiled ore.

However it was expected the stockpile would be exhausted by Wednesday, at which point lower grade stockpiles would then be processed.

As spokeswoman for Newcrest on Sunday said the mine’s emergency procedures and protocols had stood up to Friday’s incident.

“As per procedure, all personnel working in the underground operations in the Cadia East Gold Mine were moved to refuge chambers or safe areas,” the spokeswoman said.

“Geotechnical engineers inspected the mine accesses and certified them as safe prior to the movement of personnel to the surface.”