Beaconsfield Gold Mine, Tasmania

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Steeped in history, the original gold reef was discovered in 1847, with mining commencing in 1877. Operations ran through to 1914, when a number of factors including flooding of the shafts and the impact of World War One on wage demands, labour availability and material shortages led to its closure. The mine recommenced operations in 1999 and ran through to its most recent decommissioning in 2012, when a decrease in gold prices, high ground support and operating costs were cited for the closure. Around 150 full-time jobs were lost when the mine ceased operations.

What caused the Beaconsfield mine collapse?

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The Beaconsfield Gold Mine has become a part of Australian folklore, following the 2006 mine collapse which trapped miners Brandt Webb and Todd Russell for two weeks. The incident occurred on Anzac Day (25th April) and was caused by an earth tremor. At the time of the collapse, there were 17 people in the mine, 14 of whom managed to escape immediately. Tragically, another miner, Larry Knight, lost his life during the initial rockfall.

Where is the Beaconsfield Gold Mine?

The mine is situated in the Tasmania town of Beaconsfield, approximately 40 kilometres north of Launceston.

Total gold production between 1887 and 2012 is estimated at just under two million ounces, occurring across the two main periods of production:

  • 1877 – 1914: 1.04M tonnes for 855,000 ounces of gold (averaging 25.6 grams per tonne of gold)
  • 1999 – 2012: 2.72M tonnes for 920,000 ounces of gold (averaging 10.5 grams per tonne of gold)

Is the Beaconsfield Mine still open?

Despite recent years of inactivity, NQ Minerals signed a $2 million deal in early 2020 to purchase the mine, with the staged acquisition due for completion in June 2020.

Who owns the Beaconsfield Mine?

NQ Minerals own the Beaconsfield mine. With operations centred in Hellyer, Tasmania, NQ are a base and precious metals production and exploration company. Development is underway on the nearby Barnes Hill nickel and cobalt project (Another NQ Minerals asset) which will enable the company to share capital and operating costs and improve implementation timelines across both locations.

The intention is for NQ to re-open mining activities by 2021. The company has expressed strong belief in the unexplored deposits at the mine and the acquisition includes the processing plant, associated infrastructure and permits. The gold processing plant alone has an estimated replacement value today of around $80 million and is the only gold processing plant in Northern Tasmania. The plant has a production capacity of 350,000 tonnes per annum.

The mine covers an area of 593 hectares mining lease, which includes the famous Tasmanian reef, open pit potential, new reef exploratory potential and site infrastructure. Prior to the 2012 close, the site was estimated to hold 1.01 million tonnes of resources at a gold grade of 10.35 grams per tonne. This equates to a total of 336,514 ounces. An integral component to the ongoing success of the mine will be the development of a new 3 kilometre long decline running from the surface to around 400 metres below ground, which will enable sustainable low-cost operations.

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