Gold has played a significant role in the history of Australia starting in 1851 with the Bathurst gold rush.
More than 150 years later, the Cowal gold mine near West Wyalong announced a modern day “gold rush” last month with its board approving an investment of approximately $270 million to increase production and extend the life of mine by eight years to 2032. Rated among the top five biggest gold mines in Australia, total production is set to increase to 1.2 million ounces.
Just as all the discoveries of gold all over Australia has boosted the economy, an immediate benefit of the Cowal mine expansion is an increase in employees with 48 new operators in the open pit and the plant.
Community Relations Officer at the mine, Tony Glasgow said interviews for the new positions had already started this week.
The mine currently employs about 400 staff and contractors from the Forbes, Bland and Lachlan Shires, with 64 residents catching the bus from Forbes.
The new investment will deliver two major projects over the next four years: the E42 stage H cutback and the dual leach pro- ject. The E42 stage H cutback will widen and deepen the existing open pit by at least 80m. The pit is currently 340m deep. This has been made possible by a 145% or 2.28 million gold ounces increase in Cowal’s ore reserves since Evolution acquired the op- eration in 2015.
The Dual Leach project will add an additional leaching circuit to the processing plant to target a four to six per cent increase in gold recoveries.
Situated on the banks of the largest inland lake in NSW, Lake Cowal, the mine site has natural beauty not easily found at mines. Hundreds of emus, locally known as bush chooks, roam freely, as well as wallabies, kangaroos, 277 bird species and the dealy tiger and brown snakes.
The environmental sensitivity of the mine site has not been without controversy, but according to Tony the mine operates to very high environmental standards to ensure the least possible impact. Cowal has received ISO14001 certification for mining and ore processing operations and support services for gold and silver production.
Evolution Mining bought the Cowal gold mine from Barrick Gold in 2015 and described it as one of the most attractive gold assets in Australia. Cowal is the biggest of the six mines in the group.