Article by: Hari Yellina
Underground workers at the Fosterville Gold Mine in Central Victoria were evacuated this morning after a 2.5 magnitude earthquake. At 8:25 a.m., about 80 workers heard pebbles falling and loud bangs. Buildings were rattling and a loud blast could be heard on the ground. Nonetheless, no one was injured. Fosterville, which is owned by Agnico Eagle Mines and is located 20 kilometres north-east of Bendigo, is Victoria’s greatest gold producer. Mine workers were advised to contact their families to let them know they were safe, according to general manager Lance Faulkner. “We were able to determine that the event occurred nearly a kilometre below the surface and hundreds of metres away from our subterranean workings in this case,” he said.
It was the biggest seismic event since a surveillance system was built in 2019, according to Mr Faulkner. “The next highest was in the middle of last year at magnitude two,” he said. “Mine-induced seismic events are rather common, and they occur when tension is redistributed as the mine progresses. “Workers are aware of the happenings, as well as what we expect of them and what they must accomplish. The operation has been resumed.
Fosterville, a gold mine in Kirkland Lake, is Victoria’s greatest gold producer. In 2019, the mine is expected to produce over 400,000 oz, 500,000 oz in 2020, and over 575,000 oz in 2021. Reserves of 2.72 million oz at 31 grammes per tonne (g/t) underpin this output increase. It is one of the world’s most profitable and high-grade gold mines. This is the 35-year journey that led to it.
In 1894, gold was discovered in the Fosterville suburb of Bendigo. It was mined for near-surface oxide gold until 1903, yielding 28,000 ounces during that time. During the 1930s, there was a modest amount of tailings re-treatment in the area, and some small-scale operations were carried out by people until 1952. Lone Star Exploration NL, Noranda Australia Ltd, Pennzoil of Australia Ltd, Newmont Pty Ltd, and Apollo International Minerals NL all investigated the area between 1973 and 1983.
The town was formerly known as Ellesmere, and it was here that gold was discovered in 1852. More than 40 years later, in 1894, extensive mine workings commenced, and the area was renamed Fosterville after a visit by the Minister for Mines, Henry Foster MLA (1889-1902). In 1895, a water supply channel was built for the treatment of mine crushings, and township lots were established. Mines were run by a number of corporations and individuals, and by the end of 1896, there were 800 mine workers. Currently, the mine is owned by an organisation named Kirkland Lake Gold.