History of the Super Pit
In 1988, Bond International Gold (BIG), a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and controlled by WA businessman Alan Bond, bought effective control of the Golden mile through a majority shareholding in Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie (GMK), BIG also had large mines in Canada, the USA and Chile.
The idea of creating one big pit was widely attacked, the concept was ridiculed, and reserves questioned, but despite the hostile environment, work commenced. With the exception of the Mt Charlotte mine, underground operations were phased out, the pre strip commenced for the new open cut and the Fimiston processing plant and Gidji roasters were constructed.
On the 15th April 1989 discussions were concluded with Homestake Gold of Australia (HGAL) to sell half Bond Gold Australia’s interest in GMK for A$90m to create a 50/50 joint venture. Coinciding with that agreement, HGAL and GMK made a tender offer for all the shares of North Kalgurlie Mines Ltd (NKM) to consolidate the assets.
The new partners recognized that the JV structure would lack flexibility and not have the ability to offer a single career path to staff. At a dinner following the 15th April signing, it was agreed that the venture should be named Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) with responsibility to manage the Super Pit, Mt Charlotte, the Aroya, Croesus, Mt Percy mine and mill, the new Fimiston mill and roasters.
On the 27th August 1989, Bond Gold Australia sold control of GMK to a subsidiary of Poseidon Ltd.
This information is based on a true recollection of Alan Birchmore, former CEO of Bond International Gold (BIG) and the years he worked there.
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.