Speaking at the Diggers & Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Agnico Eagle vice president of corporate affairs (Australia), John Landmark, said the company spent $80 million on exploration at Fosterville in 2021, with another $60 million being invested in 2022.
As part of this, the Canadian gold miner is aiming to achieve 200,000m of diamond drilling.
“Last month we completed the twin decline drives across to Robbins Hill,” Landmark said. “In putting this drive across – it’s a twin drive which is nearly 5km long – we did that 10km of driving in just over two-and-a-half years.
“We’re now in a position to put seven drill rigs underground to define Robbins Hill. So we’ll be doing that over the next couple of years.”
Located 4km north of the existing Fosterville mine, the Robbins Hill deposit has the potential to become the project’s second mining operation. Landmark said Robbins Hill has 3km of down-plunge mineralisation.
Robbins Hill progress will also be expedited by previous work completed by Fosterville’s previous owner Kirkland Lake Gold, where 15 years of mining and drilling was completed at the Phoenix underground ore zone.
“With this exploration drive, we now have the potential to define that full 3km strike well before we even start mining,” Landmark said.
“And when we do start mining, we’ve got the potential to go both up and down because we’ve already got a decline access position a good 500–600m below surface.”
Fosterville produced approximately 212,000 ounces of gold in the first half of 2022, which Agnico Eagle said was well positioned to deliver on guidance.
The gold miner flagged reduced production from the Victorian operation in the third quarter of 2022 but expected the mine to bounce back in the fourth quarter due to the expected timing of high grade stopes.
Fosterville continues to be a low-cost operation for Agnico Eagle, with gold produced at total cash costs of $351 per ounce in the second quarter of 2022. This coincided with gold grades of more than 22 grams per tonne.