• VTX plans to process three gold stockpiles around the Hill End plant before mining underground at Reward
  • The project lies just 60kms from Cadia, Australia’s biggest gold mine
  • Plant commissioning under way and gold refining agreement secured
  • Company plans to start undergrounding mining at Reward Q1 2024


Emerging producer Vertex is aiming for early cashflow at the historic 225,200oz Hill End gold project in NSW, where 1.6Moz has already been mined but exploration upside remains high.

Vertex Minerals (ASX:VTX) owns 24km of contiguous tenements along the Hill End gold system in the famous Lachlan Fold Belt, just 60km across from Australia’s largest gold mine, Cadia.

This is a historical mining hub. High resolution lidar studies show there are shallow historical mines over the full length of the 24km with over 3,500 workings recognised.

The main game is the Reward gold mine, which has a resource of 419,000t grading 16.72 g/t, or 225,200oz of contained gold, with a higher confidence Indicated Resource of 141,000t at 15.54 g/t, or 70,500oz of contained gold.

That’s extremely high-grade.

Notably, Reward lies beneath the the famous Hawkins Hill mine which produced 435,000oz at 309 g/t.

It was here the largest piece of reef gold ever, the 286kg Holteman Beyer nugget, was found.

Vertex Minerals (ASX:VTX)

VTX believes Reward is well placed for a simple start-up, with the existing gravity processing plant located adjacent to the underground mine access point.

But first – for early cashflow – the company plans to process three stockpiles around the plant which were created in ~2009 when the price of gold was just A$1,156/oz. Today’s gold price sits close to $3,000/oz.

At the time the breakeven grade was ~12 g/t.  Material below this grade would have likely been directed to the mine stockpile by production geologists at the time.

Sampling to date has shown the Process Plant stockpile averages 1.26 g/t across 24 samples with a max gold value of 5.50 g/t.

Tails Dam Road stockpile averages 2.10 g/t across 15 samples with a max gold value of 12.20 g/t, while and Consolidated Pad averages 0.89 g/t across 20 samples with a max gold value of 6.74 g/t.


Hill End gold plant commissioning underway

Commissioning is well underway at the Hill End plant, VTX executive chairman Roger Jackson said.

“Vertex has been modifying the plant over the last few quarters with the ultimate aim of having a high recovering gravity plant capable of 120,000 to 150,000 tonnes per annum throughput, in line with planned underground production in 2024,” he said.

“During 2009, the plant improved its gold recovery from, 80% up to 95%. The plant was voted a finalist in the 2009 Australian Mining Prospects Awards – Mineral Processing Plant of the Year.

“During the year, 5,871oz gold were produced from 12,591t at an average grade of 15.9 g/t – which provides assurance around the head grade recoveries and consistency for the future Vertex underground operation.”

Since the ore only needs coarse grinding to release the gold particles, the plant recovers gold by gravity processing only without the use of cyanide.

A nice potential cost saving, as well as a boost for the company’s ESG credentials.

Vertex Minerals (ASX:VTX)
Hill End located in the Lachlan Fold Belt. Source: VTX.


Downstream refining agreement secured

As part of the commissioning process, gold concentrate has been produced ready for on site refining and smelting to a doré with the company securing a gold refining agreement with ABC Bullion Sydney.

“The agreement with ABC Refinery provides the company with an effective downstream processing opportunity in close proximity to its mine operations at Hill End and marks a key step forward in Vertex’s long-term development strategy,” Jackson says.

Further throughput ramp up at the plant will occur this month, as personnel and equipment are positioned.


Reward study and exploration upside

Reward is currently the focus of a prefeasibility study – a detailed look at the economics of developing the project.

Vertex Minerals (ASX:VTX)
A Cross section through the Reward Gold Mine. Vertex plans to mine the known resource, drill out the exploration target and maintain a drilling exercise to build a significant high-grade gold inventory. Source: VTX.

Meanwhile, the company has estimated an additional high-grade exploration target for Fosters – an area 400m south of Reward – of between 211-321,000oz at an ore grade between 12.5 g/t and 19 g/t.

The Fosters area, covered by VTX’s mining leases, is accessed by an existing adit and development drive and remains open at depth and along strike. Like Reward, it is very close to the Hill End processing plant.

“Fosters is a significant and exciting addition to Vertex’s gold project and underpins a healthy resource development future,” Vertex technical director Tully Richards said in August.

“Personally, it’s been ‘rewarding’ to work on Fosters, with HGS, while others in the company remain focused on the Reward underground PFS and completing the wet commissioning of the company’s gravity gold plant and commencing production.”


Aiming to mine Reward in Q1 2024

“The Reward gold mine is well-placed for a simple start-up, with the existing gravity processing plant being located adjacent to the underground mine access point,” Jackson said.

“The mine access point extends into the resource, so little development is likely to be required.”

Vertex is aiming to start the drive underground next year, with Stage 1 production to use adjacent stockpiles to feed the plant while Stage 2 will use high-grade ore from Reward.




This article was developed in collaboration with Vertex Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.