Oceana Gold lodges bond for Blackwater

Oceana Gold has lodged a $260,000 bond for its proposed Blackwater mine near Reefton on the West Coast, raising hopes the $500million project is gaining some momentum.

Private Australian mining company Tasman Mining has an agreement with Oceana Gold to redevelop the mine, but there are several exploration phases to be completed before a final decision to mine is made.

Tasman was issued a 20-year mining permit last December.

The West Coast Regional Council has received the $260,000 mining bond.

''That's a move in the right direction,'' Cr Allan Birchfield said at the council meeting on Tuesday.

''Things are potentially moving there,'' consents and compliance manager Heather McKay said.

Blackwater, which in recent years has had $18million spent on exploration, is 37km south of Reefton, beneath the abandoned township of Waiuta, in the foothills of the Victoria Range.

From 1908-51, until the shaft collapsed, about 750,000oz of gold was recovered, from depths of about 1000m. Recent estimates are there may be 580,000-700,000 oz still there.

Oceana Gold still owns the mine, but should Tasman go ahead it has an option to buy.

Tasman Mining's managing director Mark Le Messurier will be in Dunedin in a fortnight to make a presentation at NZ Minerals Forum 2019, outlining the project and investment opportunities.

In March Mr Le Messurier said he had spoken to a range of potential investors, mainly private equity firms, seeking an initial $US35million ($NZ45.6million) investment for the decline (tunnel) and drilling.

While that had not been successful so far, there was plenty of interest and the company was pursuing other opportunities, he said.

A project manager was appointed in October, and tendering for the tunnel development was finished in December.

The company has lodged a work plan for the year ahead, with the Snowy River Road site being prepared to make way for tunnel excavation to begin about November, with the intention to begin tunnelling in early January.

The initial tunnelling would establish the first ventilation circuit and install the main mine fan, and a 22m bridge would be constructed over the Snowy River.

A substation will go in, as will water treatment plants. The junction of Snowy River Road and State Highway 7 will also be improved.

Tasman Mining said it does not intend to drain the water from the old Blackwater workings until such time as a decision to mine has been made.

In 2014, Oceana was granted consent to reopen the mine, with access by twin 3.3km-long tunnels driven in from Snowy River, rather than vertically from the top, as had been done historically. - Additional reporting Greymouth Star

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

-Additionally reported by Laura Mills

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