The Australian gold mining industry is rich with industry players, old and new. We speak to Dr Mark Qiu, Managing Director at Hanking Australia, about the company’s relatively new entrance into the traditional sector.
Gold mining is an historic industry in Australia. Amid the many companies operating across the sector, Hanking Australia is one that is a relatively recent addition to the country’s industry.
Hanking Australia was initially registered in Perth in 2012. It is majority-owned by China Hanking Holdings Limited (CHH), a diversified mining company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with more than 25 years in mining operation experience.
CHH has iron ore mining operations and pure iron production factories in China, being the largest supplier of pure iron for the nation’s windmill manufacturing industry with a market share of more than 50 percent and has gold projects in Australia through its division Hanking Australia.
“The Australia resource industry is very active, especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The COVID-19 pandemic also highlights the issues surrounding supply chain. Australia is fortunate in that it is not only rich in mineral resources (oil, gas, iron ore, gold, rare earth, lithium, copper, nickel and other metals), but also the legal framework and the technical knowledge for resource development and critically, exploration,” begins Dr Mark Qiu, Managing Director of Hanking Australia.
“Of course, it also has challenges. A key one at the moment is the shortage of skilled workers. Hopefully, the border opens, and immigration programmes will help to resolve the labourer shortage matter.”
GENERATING JOBS AND REVENUE
Hanking has a proven track record in creating value for all stakeholders in Australia. It acquired the Southern Cross gold operations when it was in the care and maintenance of St Barbara Limited in 2013, and revitalised the rundown assets through extensive exploration, feasibility studies, open-pit and underground mine developments and processing plant refurbishment and brought it into production in February 2015.
“The site was producing 130,000 ounces of gold annually by 2016, and we increased the JORC (Australasian Code of Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves 2012 Edition) reserve from zero to approximately one million ounces (Moz) of gold, and JORC resource from 2.4 Moz to 5.2 Moz gold, by 2017, a time when it was sold for AUD $330 million,” Dr Qiu informs us. “Hanking Australia helped create over 400 jobs, paid more than $100 million in tax and royalties in Western Australia (WA) and created significant value for all stakeholders.
“Hanking also made a friendly take-over offer for ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) listed Primary Gold Limited in 2018, and successfully privatised Primary Gold later in the year, when gold price was AUD $1,630. Primary Gold assets include the Coolgardie Gold Project in WA, and the Mt Bundy Gold Project in the Northern Territory. Since the acquisition, we made major investment in exploration in both projects.”
For the Coolgardie Gold Project, Hanking increased the resource from 200 Koz gold to 347 Koz gold through extensive exploration in the area.
According to Dr Qiu, the Coolgardie project was not large enough on its own to build a standalone gold mine, so the company opted to divest it to an ASX-listed local company that needs the ores to sustain its mine life, while Hanking focuses on the flagship Mt Bundy Gold Project.
Every ounce of new gold resource increase has the potential to generate additional revenue to the local government through royalty, employment and taxes in the future.
GOLD FROM MT BUNDY
The Mt Bundy Gold Project was the key asset of Primary Gold, covering the Rustlers Roost, Quest 29 and Tom’s Gully gold deposits. As a result of friendly negotiations, Hanking acquired the remaining 20 percent interest from the JV partners of the Rustlers Roost deposit in 2020.
“Through extensive investment in exploration and various studies, Hanking has increased the total JORC resources of the Mt Bundy Gold Project from 1.79 Moz to three Moz gold and ore reserve from 175 Koz to 1.56 Moz gold, estimated by independent experts in accordance with JORC 2012 Code,” Dr Qiu elaborates.
“Mt Bundy is one of the largest gold reserves to be mined in Australia. With a stripping ratio of 1.6 to one and 1.2 Moz gold ore reserve in the Rustlers Roost open pit, optimised at a gold price of AUD $2,200 per ounce (US$1518/Oz), it is among the lowest stripping ratio and largest open pit gold reserve ready for mine development. Since the completion of pre-feasibility (PFS) study in late 2021, gold recovery has increased from 85 percent to 91 percent and grinding size improved from 75 microns to 106 microns in the definitive feasibility study to be completed in the third quarter of 2022.
“The Mt Bundy Gold Project is on existing long-life mining lease with no native title issues. Environmental approval for Tom’s Gully underground mine has been received, the open pit mining environmental impact statement (EIS) was submitted and completed three rounds of public consultation periods. Supplementary statement is scheduled to submit for final approval in June 2022.”
For Hanking, preparation for the mine’s development is well in advance. De-watering of the Rustlers Roost pit is 50 percent completed and a new bridge for ore haulage has been constructed. The company’s haul road is connected to Aherns Highway.
The project is just over one hour’s drive along this highway to Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory.
The mine has an initial life of 13 years, LOM average production of 122 Koz gold, with first five years average gold production of 161 Koz gold, first 10 years AISC A$1395/oz and LOM average EBIDA of A$115 million. The project will create 300 jobs and significant royalty and taxes for North Territory Government.
“Our current exploration has only been focused on areas of less than 10 square kilometres (km2), our 1,500 km2 has largely not been drill tested,” Dr Qiu says. “We have identified many drill-ready targets. The Mt Bundy Gold Project is located at the core part of the emerging new gold province in the Pine Creek region where 15 Moz gold resource has been delineated.”
CSR AT THE FORE
Hanking Australia moves forward with the community and environment in mind in all aspects of its operations. On top of this, Hanking has a proven track record in creating values for its shareholders and all stakeholders in Australia.
“We constantly assess investment opportunities. While our parent company is listed at the HKSX, we continue assessing options to become an ASX listed gold producer,” Dr Qiu tells us. “We are also a socially responsible corporate citizen. 100 percent of our staff are local Australian residents – I am an Australian citizen myself!
“Health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) is part of Hanking Australia culture. In fact, I am the chairman of the HSEC committee of the CHH board. We are proud that we are among the first HKSX listed companies that compile and publish HSEC reports annually. In the proposed mine development at Mt Bundy, we choose our energy supplier partners that use environmentally-friendly gas generators rather than coal or diesel generators, and we encourage incorporation of environmentally beneficial alternatives across the company.”