|Year of acquisition||2007|
The Thunderbox Gold Mine is a gold mine 41 km south-east of Leinster, Western Australia. It is currently owned by Norilsk Nickel and has been in care and maintenance since 2007.
Leinster is a town in the northern goldfields area of Western Australia. It is 4 km east of the Goldfields Highway, in the Shire of Leonora local government area, 968 kilometres (601 mi) northeast of the state capital, Perth. At the 2006 census, Leinster had a population of 732.
Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres, and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia's Sakha Republic. The state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.
Care and maintenance is a term used in the mining industry to describe processes and conditions on a closed minesite where there is potential to recommence operations at a later date. During a care and maintenance phase, production is stopped but the site is managed to ensure it remains in a safe and stable condition.
Norilsk acquired the mine in June 2007, when it took over Lionore Mining.
The Thunderbox gold deposit is a relatively recent discovery by Western Australian gold mining standards, having been located through drilling in mid-1999. The deposit was jointly owned by Lionore (60%) and Dalrymple Resources (40%).
The owners conducted a feasibility study in 2001 and predicted a mine life of five years and a gold resource of 850,000 ounces, to be mined in an open-pit operation. The company moved the processing plant from Mount Todd to the mine and first gold production was achieved at the end of 2002.
In mid-2003, Lionore and Dalrymple announced a merger of the two companies, with the new entity continuing to be called Lionore.
After good results in the mine's first two years of operation,Thunderbox suffered a difficult 2005, with lower-than-expected production in the second half of the year. Water shortages and equipment reliability issues were two of the main reasons for the decline in production, but write-downs because of its short remaining mine life led to large financial losses for the Thunderbox operation. Lionore at this stage was contemplating selling the mine.
In April 2007, it was once more reported that the mine was for sale.
Lionore Mining was taken over by Russian company Norilsk in June 2007,after a bidding war between Norilsk and Xstrata saw the former succeeding with the higher offer. Xstrata had originally offered C$18.50 for every Lionore share, countered by a Norilsk offer of C$21.50 per share. Xstrata raised their offer to C$25, which forced Norilsk to present a final offer of C$27.50.
Shortly after the takeover, Norilsk announced that it would not continue mining at Thunderbox, instead preferring to concentrate on the company's nickel projects.The mine eventually closed in November 2007.
After the closure of the mine, Norilsk used the camp at Thunderbox for accommodation for its workers at the nearby Waterloo Nickel Mine, until the later was placed into care and maintenance, too.
The board of Saracen Mineral Holdings approved a project to develop the Thunderbox deposit in Q3 FY2015, with prestrip mining commencing in 2015.First gold was poured in February 2016.
Production figures of the mine:
|Grade||Cost per ounce|
|2002||17,790 ounces||2.38 g/t||US$ 95|
|2003||212,459 ounces||US$ 138|
|2004||156,916 ounces||US$ 265|
|2005||145,413 ounces||US$ 339|
|2006||155,203 ounces||US$ 352|
|2007||39,345 ounces 1||US$ 518|
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