Beaconsfield gold mine owners ‘drain swamp’ for $ 30 million in gold


Suggestions from residents that the owners of the Beaconsfield gold mine in northern Tasmania are looking for a contaminated wetland nearby could result in a windfall of $ 30 million.

Mine owners have started removing 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil from nearby wetlands, hoping to extract millions of dollars in gold.

London-listed NQ Minerals had a pleasant surprise when they listened to a suggestion from locals to test the swamp east of the city for gold.

Since the 1870s, untreated mine water had been pumped into the wetlands between Beaconsfield and the Tamar Estuary.

The company’s executive director, Roger Jackson, said tests revealed an average gold grade of 3.2 grams per tonne, worth an estimated $ 30 million.

Todd Russell and Brant Webb made international headlines in 2006 after being trapped underground at the mine for 14 days.(

Ian Waldie / Pool: AAP

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“We are not 100% sure about the quantity or quality of the materials available, but we have a reasonable idea.”

Local knowledge wins again

The Beaconsfield gold mine closed in 2012 and was purchased by NQ Minerals last February for $ 2 million.

The mine gained worldwide attention in 2006 when Brant Webb and Todd Russell survived two weeks underground after a mine collapsed.

The wetland area had never been tested for gold before, but locals suggested they should.

“We’ve been around the country for a long time looking for various projects and one thing I’ve always learned is that the locals know the local area best,” Jackson said.

“There have been a lot of people working at the Beaconsfield mine, there is a lot of experience and a lot of skills,” he said.

“There is a lot of history in this area and it looks amazing so it was just interesting talking to the locals and that’s how I understood it.”

Aerial view of a large area of ​​land and water on the outskirts of a city
It will take several months to treat the contaminated soil.(

ABC News: Craig Heerey

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“ A rather expensive exercise ”

But the discovery comes with a catch: processing the gold could cost as much as $ 8 million.

“It’s a pretty expensive exercise to move this material around and clean it up,” Jackson said.

“It’s not our legacy, we came and bought the project and as part of that we offered to clean up this area.

Beaconsfield mine site opens 1
The mine has pumped untreated water to wetlands since the 1870s.(

ABC News: Damian McIntyre

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“While this is a bonus, there are a lot of costs that work against it.”

A fleet of six trucks and about 20 employees work to transport the material to NQ’s processing plant, the process expected to take several months.

The owners remain confident that the mine will reopen.

Construction of a 430 meter descent to access most of the gold subsoil could begin later this year.

They have already discovered a resource of half a million ounces of gold.

“It’s never easy and mining is not a straightforward process, there are a number of factors we want to be sure of before we start,” Jackson said.

They hope to start underground mining in two years.

“The amount of material or gold that will be mined from this particular cleanup is minor compared to the half a million ounces we’re talking about and have already found underground,” Jackson said.

A man in a black shirt is standing in front of a chalkboard
Andrew Heap, owner of the Beaconsfield hotel, is “very excited” about a discovery of gold.(

ABC News: Craigh Heerey

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Andrew Heap, a Beaconsfield resident and local pub owner, noticed that a lot of work was going on in the area.

“I thought it could have been some sort of rehabilitation process,” he says.

“I didn’t realize there would be gold in there, it’s really, really exciting.”

A middle aged woman in sunglasses
West Tamar Deputy Mayor Joy Allen says it will be “wonderful” to rehabilitate the wetlands.(

ABC News: Craig Heerey

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West Tamar deputy mayor Joy Allen said it would be “a great advantage” for the town if the mine were to restart.

“It’s great to know that all this gold has been there all this time and now someone is going to reap the benefits and the city will reap it as well,” she said.

“[Gold mining] has been going on for 100 years in Beaconsfield, it’s just that we took a break.

“But I think people are a little hesitant, some are, about things that have happened in the past, but when it comes to employment, it’s better for traders, more people in town. , in the long run will be a great advantage.

She had not yet spoken to the company about their plans, but said it would be “wonderful” to have the wetlands rehabilitated.

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