First discovered in October 2013, the Gruyere Gold Project lies ~25 kilometres north-east of Gold Road Resources’ original Yamarna belt discovery - Central Bore, and is predicted to be a low-cost, long-life project over the next 13 years – far exceeding the shelf life of most existing Australian mine sites.
Upon entering a 50-50 joint venture agreement with Gold Fields Australia, each company acquired 50% ownership of the project, with Gold Fields appointed as the manager of the Gruyere development and operation, while Gold Road continues to manage exploration.
When asked why Gold Fields took up the Gruyere joint venture, Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the opportunity came at just the right time, with the company already looking to consolidate its portfolio.
“Gold Fields have often been criticised for the life of our operations in Australia, even though all those mines have been around for a long time, they’ve only had short reserve life. Gruyere helps the story for Gold Fields – it could be a cornerstone for even greater things,” said Gold Fields Australia’s Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews.
“As soon as we came in [to Australia] we knew we had to invest in exploration. We take a long-term view in this region that we’re going to be here for some time,” said Stuart.
“We’re not going to drop off that investment level anytime soon. It’s [Australia] unleashing some real growth and potential for our company,” he said.
Creating the joint venture also allowed Gold Road to do that which they would have otherwise been unable to do, as said by Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ian Murray.
“It is very difficult for a junior company to develop a gold mine. We are able to do these deals now rather than building our own profile,” he said.
Combining strengths with Gold Fields took much of the risk out of the project and has permitted Gold Road to continue working on other avenues, chiefly embracing new exploration technologies and strengthening their own culture and workplace practices, rolling out a workplace safety behaviour program.
“The most exciting thing for us at Gold Road is exploration. The plan moving forward is to develop a second project on the belt now that we have the infrastructure in place. We hope to have a hub there that can host a million ounces in about a year or two,” said Ian.
In terms of the governance of the project, the two companies confirmed that an equal number of members from both sides formed the joint venture steering committee early on, to manage the project through construction. Once the project moves from a construction to operation phase, a technical joint venture committee will be established to continue to equally manage the project’s output.
“If anything does come up that needs to get resolved Stuart phones me or I phone Stuart and communicate immediately and get the issue resolved. And I think that is how it works so well, is that there’s very open communication and things get dealt with quickly,” said Ian.
“Ian’s right, we have a really healthy relationship,” confirmed Stuart.
Construction on the Gruyere Gold Project began in January 2018. Mining activities are expected to begin in December 2018, and with everything on track, the site is predicted to begin processing its first gold by the June 2019 quarter.