Pit road may be open in fortnight

Oceana Gold is estimating its pit road at its Macraes mine in East Otago may reopen within a fortnight, following its closure on April 19 after a slump caused by heavy rain.

As with last year's similar slump on the same road and temporary pit closure, there were no injuries and processing continued, using stockpiled ore.

From a price of $2.37 at the beginning of April, Oceana shares have steadily gained value.

After a strong first-quarter report and record revenues released on Tuesday, they spiked further to end April almost 24% up at $2.93.

In January 2013, a slump on the same access road into the pit at Macraes temporarily suspended work for 16 days.

Investor relations manager Sam Pazuki, contacted yesterday, said the latest event ''was not dissimilar'' to that in January last year. Both had occurred during periods ''of heavy rainfall'' and neither resulted in injuries.

''We expect the open pit to resume in a couple of weeks pending the mine plan,'' Mr Pazuki said.

While the road slump closed access to the main pit, it also blocked access to the portal of the Frasers underground operations.

Underground staff were helicoptered out of the main pit area following the slump last month, but underground production resumed on April 24.

Rain, snow or accumulated water during winter have at various times disrupted operations during the mine's 23 years of operation.

Mr Pazuki was asked whether the ground had simply become waterlogged then given way, or whether it was a geological issue.

''We're working on a new mine plan for the open pit and working on the geotechs [of the ground] as well,'' he said.

Oceana management was confident the mine would still meet full-year operational guidance, in spite of the slump.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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