History of the Super Pit

In June 1893, Paddy Hannan, Thomas Flanagan and Dan Shea found nearly 100 ounces of gold in the dry red soil of what is now Kalgoorlie-Boulder. This sparked a gold rush and the discovery of the area known as the Golden Mile, which is one of the richest gold deposits in the world. In 1903 there were 49 operating mines, 100 headframes and more than 3,000 kilometres of underground workings on the Golden Mile.

Where small operations had once controlled the famous Golden Mile, WA businessman Alan Bond started buying up the individual leases in the 1980’s to create one big company and one big pit, from which gold could be extracted at lower cost. Bond’s company failed to complete the takeover but, in 1989, the entire area was combined. Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM) was formed to manage the assets and operations of joint venture partners, Normandy Australia and Homestake Gold of Australia Limited.

Work began to amalgamate existing smaller pits into the Fimiston Open Pit, initially nicknamed the Big Pit and now known world-wide as the Super Pit. All underground operations were phased out except for the Mt Charlotte mine, and the Fimiston Processing Plant and the Gidji Processing Plant were constructed.

Barrick and Newmont era

In December 2001 Canadian company Barrick Gold Corporation merged with Homestake and a few months later, in February 2002, Normandy merged with Newmont Mining Corporation. Barrick and Newmont are today the equal joint owners of the Golden Mile leases and the company which manages them, KCGM.

In March 2014, just in time for the 25th anniversary of its formation, KCGM poured its 16 millionth ounce of gold. In the past 25 years KCGM has produced around 800,000 ounces of gold per year from a gold reserve of 8.8 million ounces, yielding an average of 2 grams per tonne. KCGM, which accounts for about eight per cent of Australia’s gold output, only relinquished its long-held status as Australia’s biggest gold producer to Newmont’s Boddington Gold Mine in the final quarter of 2012.

Since its discovery, the Golden Mile has produced approximately 58 million ounces and in 2014 held its position as the fifth largest gold producing region in the world. Today KCGM’s operations contribute to Australia’s position as the second biggest gold producer in the world, second only to China.

The Fimiston Open Pit, at 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and more than 600 metres deep, draws thousands of tourists to the Goldfields each year. By the time its projected mine life ends in 2019, the Pit will reach a depth of around 700 metres. After Open Pit mining ends, current plans see stockpiles of low grade ore processed until 2029. However mine plans always depend on economic viability based on costs and the price of gold.

Download KCGM Closure and Reclamation Plan

In 2014 KCGM commemorated its 25th Anniversary of operating on the Golden Mile with publication of a hard cover book. KCGM: A Celebration of 25 Years tells the story from the early days of the Golden Mile, through KCGM’s formation to the present day.

The book is available for sale from at Hannans North Tourist Mine, Fossick Handmade, Kalgoorlie Tours and Charters, Pure Gold Visitors Centre, The Eastern Goldfields Historical Society, Loopline Museum and The WA Museum Kalgoorlie.

Download KCGM Timeline, an extract from KCGM: A Celebration of 25 Years.