Junior gold miner Hawthorn Resources reckons there’s potential for an underground gold mine at its “Trouser Legs” operation in Western Australia, after hitting grades of up to 50.3 grams per tonne (g/t) of gold underneath the existing open pit.

The Hawthorn (ASX:HAW) share price — which has ranged between 4c and 9c over the past 12 months — was steady at a near-low 4.1c.

The Trouser Legs joint venture (Hawthorn — 70 per cent and Gel Resources — 30 per cent) told investors that every hole drilled hit high-grade gold, including 1m grading 50.30g/t, 93m from surface.

A pre-feasibility study will kick off soon to assess the economic viability of an underground mine at Trouser Legs once the gold in the open pit is mined out.

“Any underground development of the Trouser Legs mine will not be without challenges, however the high gold grades returned from the current program advance the potential for such development to occur,” Hawthorn told investors.

Mining of the open pit, 130km east of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, started in late 2017.

The Trouser Legs open pit gold mine.
The Trouser Legs open pit gold mine.

Gold ore is batched into monthly 40,000t parcels and hauled to the nearby Carosue Dam Mill — operated by major producer Saracen Mineral Holdings — under an ore purchase agreement.

About 20,000 ounces of gold have been produced to date.

Hawthorn made revenues of $13.85m and a net profit of $2.5m in the September quarter.

At the end of September, the company had about $4.2m cash in the bank.