The top local executive of Gold Fields has mapped out a high-technology future for the South African company in WA as it embarks on its $532 million Gruyere construction project.
Executive Vice President Australasia Stuart Mathews confirmed the 50:50 Gruyere joint venture between Gold Fields and local partner Gold Road Resources had awarded all the major contracts after approving the project in February.
Amec Foster Wheeler Civmec JV was awarded a $298 million engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project and will discuss what opportunities will be available to potential subcontractors at a WA Works Sundowner on August 3.
Mathews told the WA Mining Club last week it already had advanced early earthworks and was on track for gold production in early 2019.
He said Gold Fields had been in Australia for 16 years, employed 1900 people directly in WA on its mine sites alongside more than 500 contractors, but had flown under the radar.
The company was also in tune with the new Labor Government’s job focus, pointing out that Gruyere would add 350 permanent jobs once operations began.
The McGowan Government had been very supportive of the company since winning office.
“We’re comfortable with the Labor Government coming in because I think the things they are saying about jobs and growth is exactly right – that’s what we’re about,” he said.
“And Gruyere is about growth in a region (east of Laverton) which has got nothing – that’s going to provide some long-term opportunities for 20 years.”
As WA’s second-biggest gold producer, Gold Fields was also spending about $100 million per annum on exploration across the Australian region.
“That represents approximately 30-35 per cent of the total gold exploration in Australia,” he said.
And the company was keen to adopt technology at its mine sites.
“There is a lot of technology out there that we haven’t even put into our mines yet,” he said.
Gold Fields was currently upgrading its IT and wireless capability to ensure the technology was robust enough to deal with more mine automation.
“If we keep doing the same things in our deeper underground mines, and they are getting deeper and hotter every day, as well as requiring big infrastructure, then at some point the costs will overrun,” Mathews said.
“We have to do something different for the next four or five years and I think it is time now to look at automation in underground mines – the technology is there already.”
Also, swapping diesel-powered mobile underground equipment for battery-powered vehicles would be a big focus.
“We hope to have something going at our operations in three to four years,” he said.
At Gruyere, the joint venture was just starting the open cut mining tender process.
“We’ll be asking something of the contractors who respond to the tender about their commitment to technology, that is going to be a bit part of the tender process.”
► Interested in subcontracting opportunities? Register for the next WA Works Sundowner featuring Amec Foster Wheeler Civmec JV to hear more about the $298 million Gruyere Gold EPC contract.