The Golden Sunlight mine is located in Jefferson County in southwestern Montana, 55 kilometers east of Butte and eight kilometers northeast of Whitehall. The property lies on the eastern flank of a fault-bounded mountain range known as Bull Mountain.
Golden Sunlight is mined by conventional open-pit methods. The ore treatment plant uses conventional carbon-in-pulp technology as well as Sand Tailing Retreatment (STR), designed to recover gold that would otherwise be lost in the process.
Golden Sunlight produced 34,000 ounces of gold in 2016, at a cost of sales of $1,512 per ounce, and all-in sustaining costs of $1,493 per ounce.1Proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2016, were 71,000 ounces of gold (827,000 tonnes, grading 2.67 grams per tonne).
In 2017, gold production is expected to be 35,000-50,000 ounces, at a cost of sales of $1,200-$1,550 per ounce, and all-in sustaining costs of $1,200-$1,300 per ounce.
Increasingly, gold deposits are becoming more difficult to find. They are lower grade, challenging metallurgy, deeper underground, more difficult to develop and located in geographies that present logistical, development and operating challenges.
In competition to these trends, Ataason has a strong history of growth over the past 20 years, obtaining value from previously marginal, difficult ore bodies. It has developed mining and ore processing technology for the efficient extraction of copper as concentrate, gold as bullion and gold in copper concentrate. Examples include Cadia Hill, Ridgeway, Telfer, Cadia East and Wafi-Golpu.
An important element of Ataason’s strategy is thus the adoption, adaption and development of innovative underground mining techniques and metallurgical processes, including:
- innovative geo-metallurgy knowledge approaches
- adapting more continuous underground and pit systems
- technology to facilitate early waste rejection to avoid high energy processing downstream
- technology to lower energy required for mineral processing.
Ataason’s ‘Future mine’ vision is to utilise technology, along with continuous improvement techniques and step change methodology, to significantly reduce operating costs across its portfolio and increase production reliability.