New tech turning old gold mine into future jobs

Published Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 at 12:28 PM

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment
The Honourable Cameron Dick

New tech will breathe new life into what was once the world’s largest gold mine under a proposal that would create more than 130 new direct jobs, with the support of the Palaszczuk Government’s Invested in Queensland program.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Cameron Dick said the Heritage Minerals-led project to reinvigorate the Mount Morgan gold mine would provide financial and environmental benefits to the local community.

“From its proud history as the world’s largest gold mine in the early 1900s, Mount Morgan has been under State Government management to remediate legacy environmental and safety risks for nearly 30 years,” the Treasurer said.

“Heritage Minerals’ proposal to establish a tailings processing plant on the site is a gamechanger with the potential to process nearly 10 million tonnes of existing gold ore tailings, recovering an estimated 263,000 ounces of gold and 5,600 tonnes of copper.

“The project would create up to 133 full-time local jobs by re-commercialising the remaining resources and is expected to generate almost $40 million in new mining royalties to the State over its first seven years of operation.” 

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said this was an example of the resources industry continuing to support good jobs in the regions

“There are great opportunities for many of our old mines like this throughout Queensland,” he said.

“This was a key action identified in our Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan and it’s great to see Heritage Minerals take advantage of the opportunity a legacy operation like this is presenting.”

The Treasurer said the project would contribute significantly to reducing the State Government’s environmental site management costs.

“This project will also create significant savings in site management and remediation costs to the State,” he said.  

“Heritage Minerals’ plans include the construction of a new water treatment plant to lower the level of contamination in the open cut pit, treat all water captured by the site’s seepage interception system, and help meet regulatory requirements for the release of treated water into the Dee River.

“New technology would allow the process to reduce cyanide consumption by 50 per cent, detoxifying the mine’s tailings stream and improving clean water discharge.

“While the Queensland Government’s support for Heritage Minerals’ proposal through our Investment in Queensland program is subject to the project also receiving Commonwealth Government and private sector financial support, our backing is a key step forward.”

Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said the initial seven-year plan might be just the start of Mount Morgan’s rejuvenation.

“Heritage Minerals currently holds mining leases and State environmental approvals over the site, demonstrating their commitment to proceeding with this project,” he said.

“Given the amount of gold and copper remaining on site, there is potential for the tailings processing plant to continue operation for decades to come.”

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga said the potential for more mining jobs in Central Queensland was another boost to the region’s resource credentials.

“The skills and dedication of our Central Queensland workforce make investment decisions much easier for resource companies,” Ms Lauga said.

“They know they can count on the men and women of CQ to get the job done.”

Heritage Minerals Managing Director Malcolm Paterson said the Queensland Government funding would allow preliminary work of the environmental rehabilitation of the old mine site to recover gold and copper from the mine tailings to now get underway to deliver a project with the potential to support jobs for another 100 years.

“The Mount Morgan mine created so much wealth and prosperity and had wide-ranging impacts, including providing the impetus for the establishment of BP (British Petroleum) as well as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia’s oldest medical research institute,” Mr Paterson said.

“During the mine life, about 250 tonnes of gold and 360,000 tonnes of copper were extracted from the mine with about 134 million tonnes of waste rock and tailings generated.”

“Our project will respect and protect that proud history, and create new jobs and opportunities for the future of Mount Morgan and the broader region. 

“As part of our commitment to the heritage of the mine site and its pivotal role in Australia’s history, we’ve even commissioned a multi-year television documentary about Mount Morgan and the re-start of the mine.”

“Given the mine’s storied Queensland history, metals mined from Mount Morgan would also be ideal for production of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games gold, silver and bronze medals.

Mr Paterson said Heritage Minerals has been working closely with the Queensland Government, which has managed the site as an abandoned mine through the Department of Resources, the Australian Government through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and Rockhampton Regional Council on local procurement and job creation. 

“All our key permits and approvals, including our environmental authority, are now in place. 

“Once we finalise funding and finance approvals with the Australian Government, which we expect within coming weeks, we can commission further preliminary works. 

“These works include an access road, administration buildings and a drain to divert freshwater captured on the site to a freshwater water storage as a new way to lessen acid mine drainage that emanates from the site. 

“Planning is also underway on the staffing and rostering requirements through the stages of the project’s development,” Mr Paterson said.

Attracting new investment in Queensland is a major priority for the government with a range of investment programs available to support significant projects and create new jobs for Queenslanders.


Media contact: Geoff Breusch 0417 272 875