Dargues Gold Mine at Majors Creek, near Braidwood, will soon have new owners with plans to ramp up work, while the community continues to have issues with noise and the state of Majors Creek Road.
On 13 November, Aurelia Metals Ltd announced to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) that it has agreed to acquire 100 per cent of Dargues Gold Mine and regional exploration tenements from Diversified Minerals Pty Ltd for $200 million.
Aurelia Metals is an Australian mining and exploration company that operates two wholly owned gold and base metal operations – Peak Mine and Hera Mine – and two major processing plants with a combined capacity of approximately 1.3 metric tonnes per annum.
Aurelia Metals’ statement to the ASX said: “The acquisition is consistent with Aurelia’s strategic objectives and is accretive of a net asset value per share basis. Post acquisition, Aurelia’s focus will be to continue the production ramp-up, implement its identified mine design and process circuit improvement and extend mine life and annual production rate (subject to permitted approvals). An extension and infill resource drilling program will be prioritised, with stage-one completion targeted by mid-2021.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Aurelia Metals managing director and chief executive officer Dan Clifford said: “The acquisition of Dargues is a landmark transaction for Aurelia. We have articulated a strategy for growing shareholder value and we believe this move is entirely aligned with that strategy. The acquisition diversifies our production base while also increasing Aurelia’s overall production, weighting further towards gold. Dargues’ NSW domicile also offers clear synergies to our business, which we plan to capitalise on rapidly. Critically, we believe the existing Dargues resource offers substantial potential upside with further extension target drilling.”
Mr Clifford added: “Accelerated drilling is a priority post-acquisition completion.”
Diversified Minerals said ownership of the mine is expected to transfer to Aurelia Metals in late 2020 or early 2021.
A statement from Diversified Minerals said: “Under Aurelia, Dargues will transition to an alliance mining contract with the mine’s mining contractor PYBAR Mining Services. PYBAR and Aurelia will be conducting a thorough consultation process with regards to the alliance mining contract during the coming weeks.”
Diversified Minerals director Paul Rouse said: “We believe this transaction is in the best interests of Dargues Gold Mine. We have been highly impressed by Aurelia’s vision of future investment to enhance the mine’s longevity and life.”
Diversified Minerals acquired Dargues Gold Mine in 2016 via its acquisition of Unity Mining Limited. Its development of the project saw it become the newest underground gold mine in NSW.
Dargues Gold Mine general manager Shannon Green said he will stay on in his role until the change of control, but was unable to comment beyond that.
The Dargues Reef Community Consultative Committee (DRCCC) only found out about the change of ownership after the announcement had been made.
Majors Creek resident Matt Darwon, who lives 2.4km from the mine said: “When PYBAR took control of operations a few years ago we were assured they were in it for the long haul, and I thought at the time this was a great step forward for the community being able to develop a proper transparent, engaged and long-term relationship with the company.
After all, the site is located in the Majors Creek township, and not in the outback somewhere, hundreds of kilometres from residents. We are actually neighbours.
“PYBAR was definitely a step in the right direction after what had gone on with Unity in the years previous. I feel that Unity had no regard for community concerns.”
Most of the complaints registered by the mine concern noise.
“A significant issue that is affecting many residents is the level of noise emanating from mine operations,” said Mr Darwon. “Noise at night has had a significant impact upon the sleeping patterns of many residents and I believe it is unacceptable.
“So the real question is should an industrial facility of this size be allowed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a small, previously quiet country town?
“Do I think profits should have a bearing on the company protecting the amenity of the local village residents and the impact the mine has on the broader community? Yes I do. I hope the directors and shareholders of Aurelia Metals feel that way, too.”