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In February 2011 the Company acquired its second major project, the 1Moz Ashburton Project, increasing the Company’s mineral inventory to approximately 1.3Moz. The purchase was for nil cash consideration and a 1.75% royalty after the first 250Koz of production.
This project is located approximately 200km south-east of the Paulsens Mine and within trucking distance of the Paulsens processing facility.
The Ashburton Mine operated between 1998 and 2004 producing approximately 340,000 ounces of gold at a 3.3g/t head grade. The project closed when the gold price was less than $500/oz. The project contains five open pits: Mt Olympus, West Olympus, Zeus, Peake and Waugh.
Northern Star has commenced exploration at Ashburton and initial drilling results have confirmed the continuation of mineralisation in the high-grade Peake and Mt Olympus open pits.
The Company will continue to explore at Ashburton with the aim of establishing a 100,000ozpa stand-alone operation.
The Mount Olympus Deposit (pre-mining Resource of 1.94 million tonnes grading 3.2g/t Au), which was mined from two pits, Mount Olympus itself, and the much smaller West Olympus pit, is mainly hosted by sandstone and pebbly sandstone of the Mt McGrath Formation, with lesser mineralisation in an underlying mudstone unit.
The West Olympus mineralisation is partly within the underlying Cheela Springs Basalt. The southern bounding structure – the Zoe Fault -, against which the clastic sedimentary rocks were dragged into a southeasterly plunging syncline on the northern and footwall side, is mineralised and was likely the ‘feeder structure’. It is the Zoe Fault that also localises Zeus. Mineralisation is mainly within disseminated goldbearing arsenical pyrite, with minor gold-bearing quartz and goldbearing graphite and bitumen associated with the Zoe Fault.
Mount Olympus produced 242,000 ounces from 2.5 million tonnes at an average grade of 3 g/t with a recovery of 92% and a strip ratio of 3:1