IM June includes information on Tanami Gold’s newly operating Coyote gold mine in the Tanami-Arunta Province of Central Australia. The official opening is to be May 24 and will be conducted by the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery. The ceremony will also be attended by the Chairman of the Tjurabalan Native Title Land Aboriginal Corporation, Tomato Gordon, the Executive Director of the Kimberley Land Council (KLC), Wayne Bergmann, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Resources, Tony McRae MLA, the Hon Tom Stephens MLA, Member for Central Kimberley-Pilbara, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, His Honour Mr Ted Egan, representatives of the Tjurabalan People, Tanami Gold employees and guests. Over 300 people including employees, guests and a strong representation by the Tjurabalan People are expected on site. The official opening of the mine represents a major milestone for Tanami Gold and the Tjurabalan People, whose partnership – forged over the past decade – has been instrumental in underpinning the development of the new mine and will continue to deliver new opportunities for this part of central Australia over the coming years.Tanami Gold signed a landmark Mining agreement with the Tjurabalan people, with the support of the KLC, in April 2005 covering mining and exploration in the almost 26,000 km2 of Tjurabalan lands lying to the south and east of Halls Creek in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. This historic agreement, which the KLC describes as one of the best in Australia, is based on a long-term commitment to the region by both parties and includes a strong commitment to employment, training and business development opportunities for the Tjurabalan People. The agreement followed years of negotiations between Tanami and the Tjurabalan People during which a strong bond of trust and understanding was forged which demonstrates that workable and mutually beneficial agreements can be entered into with indigenous communities.Coyote gold mine will provide long-term employment for in excess of 100 people, some 40% of which are employed by CDE Capital, which holds the contract for mining and civil works. Approximately 50% of CDE Capital’s workforce is Aboriginal.For Tanami, the official opening signals the most important turning point in its 12-year journey as a junior exploration company, marking its transition to producer status. Since its establishment in 1994, Tanami has assembled one of the largest exploration portfolios in Central Australia, invested in excess of A$75 million in exploration and development in the region and has secured the support and participation of the region’s indigenous communities.Tanami Gold’s Executive Chairman, Denis Waddell, said the opening of the Coyote mine represents the culmination of 12 years of challenging work as a junior exploration company working in a remote and isolated region with poorly developed infrastructure and difficult access.“This is a major achievement and very positive step forward for central Australia, and also represents one of the few new gold mine developments in Australia in the past decade,” Mr Waddell said. “We are honoured that the Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, has agreed to join us to officiate on this special occasion, to mark the official launch of Australia’s newest gold mine. We are also very pleased that the event will be attended by a large number of the Tjurabalan People – including their Chairman, Tomato Gordon – to celebrate the community partnership that we expect will continue to deliver tangible benefits to this region for many years to come.”Open pit mining commenced at Coyote earlier in May, with construction of the on-site gold processing facility, accommodation village and associated infrastructure now well advanced and scheduled for completion in early June 2006. Plant commissioning is expected to commence in mid-June, leading to a first gold pour towards the end of the month.Stage 1 production will ramp up to 60,000 oz/y, with ore sourced from an open pit during the first 10 months of mining and subsequently transitioning to an underground operation. Tanami plans to expand the operation significantly during Stage 2, increasing production levels to over 100,000 oz/y. Importantly, cash flow from the operations will fund intensive ongoing exploration programs to be undertaken on the Company’s large and highly prospective ground holdings aimed at discovering the next major deposit in the Tanami-Arunta Province.
BRC DiamondCore (which features in International Mining’s July issue) has signed a Letter of Intent with Rio Tinto Mining and Exploration, whereby Rio Tinto can earn a 60% interest in the company’s five diamond exploration projects (the Northern Projects) in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under a staged earn-in arrangement. These five Northern Projects relate to a total of 106 exploration permits covering approximately 27,000 km2 in the Equateur and Oriental Provinces. It is believed that the region’s geology, which represents an extension of the Mboumou Craton from the Central African Republic, is prospective for the hosting of kimberlite pipes. Alluvial diamonds are currently being recovered in this region. Under the proposed arrangement, Rio Tinto would fund an exploration program with the objective of finding and defining kimberlite deposits capable of economic development. The Letter of Intent contemplates the following three phases:Reconnaissance Phase. Rio Tinto contributes $550,000 towards the initial reconnaissance sampling phase to be completed by BRC by year-end 2009.Phase 1 Exploration. Upon completion of the reconnaissance phase and receipt and interpretation by Rio Tinto of all reconnaissance sample results, Rio Tinto has the exclusive option to earn an initial 35% interest in whichever Northern Project Rio Tinto selects by spending $3 million in exploration expenditure on each of the projects it selects by no later than December 31, 2012. Rio Tinto may elect to earn this 35% interest in multiple Northern Projects by spending the said $3 million on each Northern Project selected by Rio Tinto by no later than December 31, 2012. This Phase 1 exploration program will be as agreed upon by the parties and will be operated by BRC.Phase 2 Exploration. Upon completion of Phase 1 exploration on a Northern Project, Rio Tinto would then have the right to earn an additional 25% interest in the applicable Northern Project by spending an additional $10 million in exploration expenditure on each project by no later than December 31, 2014. At the point during Phase 2 exploration where a kimberlite requires the first bulk sample, BRC would hand over operation of the bulk sampling program to Rio Tinto.Following Phase 2 exploration, a joint venture company would be formed with Rio Tinto holding a 60% interest and BRC holding a 40% interest.The above proposed earn-in arrangement is subject to various conditions, including completion of due diligence and negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement between the parties.This proposed earn-in arrangement applies solely to BRC’s northern DRC projects and does not impact the company’s major DRC projects of Tshikapa, Kwango River and Lubao. Company President, Dr. Mike de Wit, said: “We are very pleased to be joint-venturing with such a highly respected mining company as Rio Tinto on the exploration of these promising diamond projects. Both companies are of the view that these properties are highly prospective for the hosting of diamondiferous kimberlites.”