tasmania on map
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Northeast Tasmania is believed to have geological similarities to the Victorian goldfields, presenting vast exploration opportunities for early movers in the region.

Since its mid-19th century gold rush, Australia has maintained its position as one of the world's top gold producers.

Most of Australia’s mining and exploration activities have been focused on Western Australia and Victoria. But there's another region nearby with just as much potential — perhaps more. Situated 240 kilometres off Australia's southern coast, Tasmania remains largely unexplored.

Given that Tasmania's northeastern section is believed to be a geologic extension of the rich Victorian goldfields, early movers in the area could be sitting on a literal gold mine.

History of Australian gold mining

In 1851, a prospector discovered gold flecks near Bathurst, New South Wales. This discovery kicked off what would become one of the largest gold rushes in history, attracting over half a million people to Australia's goldfields. The strong sense of companionship and solidarity between these prospectors has since become a central part of Australia's cultural identity.

Australia's mining industry, meanwhile, has long been a major contributor to the nation's economy, accounting for roughly 15 percent of gross value added in 2022. Gold production is a significant revenue driver, with Australia ranking alongside Russia as the second largest global producer of gold in 2022. Gold was also one of Australia's largest commodities by value in 2022, according to data from Western Australia’s Department of Energy, Mines Industry Regulation and Safety.

Western Australia represents nearly 60 percent of the country's total gold output. Widely regarded as one of the best mining jurisdictions in the world, based on the Fraser Institute’s survey of mining companies, Western Australia hosts multiple goldfields. Some of its richest and most prolific can be found within the Pilbara Craton, a geologic formation that has been compared to South Africa's Witwatersrand Basin — currently home to the largest-known reserves of gold on the planet.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of Australia's gold-mining operations are situated in Western Australia. The five largest mines, according to Aurum Analytics’ Q4 2023 report, are listed below.

Boddington, Western Australia

Boddington is Australia's largest gold mine. Owned and operated by Newmont (TSX:NGT,NYSE:NEM), the open-pit mine also ranks as the fourth largest gold-producing mine in the world. In 2022, the mine produced 798,000 ounces of gold and 227,000 gold equivalent ounces of other metals.

Tanami, Northern Territory

Situated on Aboriginal freehold land, the Tanami mine and its adjoining processing plant are both managed by the Central Desert Aboriginal Lands Trust. Owned by Newmont, the project is among Australia's most remote, a fly-in and fly-out operation nearly 300 kilometres away from the nearest community. The Tanami mine produced 484,000 ounces of gold in 2022, with reported reserves of 5.7 million; an expansion project is currently underway that is expected to increase annual production by up to 200,000 ounces.

Cadia Valley, New South Wales

Also owned and operated by Newmont, Cadia is notable for its incredibly low production costs. Situated in New South Wales, Cadia consists of the Ridgeway underground mine and the Cadia East underground panel cave. In 2023, the project underwent a major two stage plant expansion. Though this expansion reduced Cadia's throughput in the short term, Newport expects to ramp production up to 35 million tons per annum.

Tropicana, Western Australia

Co-owned by AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG,NYSE:AU,OTC Pink:AULGF) and Regis Resources (ASX:RRL,OTC Pink:RGRNF), the Tropicana open-pit mine covers roughly four square kilometres. With a mineral resource of 4.4 million ounces, the mine produced 306,000 ounces of gold in 2022 and surpassed this output in the first three quarters of 2023. AngloGold Ashanti is currently constructing a 62 megawatt wind and solar facility for more sustainable operations.

Kalgoorlie Consolidated Mines, Western Australia

Owned by Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST,OTC Pink:NESRF), Kalgoorlie Consolidated Mines is situated in a region known as the Golden Mile, one of the richest gold deposits in the world. The project produced 486,001 ounces of gold in 2022. In June 2023, Northern Star launched an AU$1.5 billion expansion project for Kalgoorlie Consolidated Mines. As of March 2023, the project has a total mineral resource of 7.36 million ounces.

In addition to gold, Australia is one of the largest global producers of coal, iron ore, cobalt, copper, lead and nickel.

The vast Victoria Goldfields

Today, most of Australia's highest-profile gold projects are found in and around Western Australia. Yet this region was not the site of Australia's largest gold rush — that honour goes to Victoria, whose goldfields ultimately made Melbourne one of the most prosperous cities in the country. Even today, the state is home to some of Australia's oldest gold mines.

It also bears mentioning that Victoria itself remains largely underexplored, with the Geological Survey of Victoria estimating in 2019 that the region's high-grade goldfields could potentially contain several undiscovered multimillion ounce deposits. There is also evidence to suggest that the goldfields extend far beyond mainland Australia's shores — all the way to the island state of Tasmania.

The underlying geology of the goldfields, known as the Lachlan Fold Belt, covers a total area of roughly 200,000 square kilometres. In addition to dominating both Victoria and New South Wales, it also extends into both Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The belt's established history of mineral production includes gold, copper, silver, lead, zinc and tin.

In more recent years, the region has become a hotbed of exploration owing to its considerable resource potential and rich mineralisation. Yet for all that mining companies are pursuing opportunities on the mainland, relatively few have considered looking southward. Few, but not all.

Geologists have long known Northeastern Tasmania as part of the Western Lachlan Orogen. The region displays similar geology to other areas of the Victorian goldfields, with significant historic high-grade gold production, dominated by the Beaconsfield mine, which produced approximately 2 million ounces between 1877 and 1914 and 1998 and 2012. Mining companies operating in Tasmania also benefit from access to a skilled labour force, a favourable regulatory climate and well-maintained, established infrastructure.

Why, then, has there been so little mining activity within Tasmania compared to other regions?

According to the Australian Journal of Mining History, it's largely a matter of technological restrictions. Most mining activity within the region was limited to shallow depths by the water table, requiring the installation of expensive pumping equipment, as was the case with the Beaconsfield mine.

Northeastern Tasmania consequently gained a reputation as a poor target for sustainable and cost-effective production. From 1920 onward, it was largely ignored in favour of more easily developed areas. Armed with modern mining technology and new techniques, however, several mining companies have turned their attention toward the region once more.

Major players in Tasmanian gold mining

According to a spokesperson from Mineral Resources Tasmania, the renewed wave of exploration in Northeast Tasmania has largely been fuelled by the discovery of high-grade gold in Victoria at Agnico Eagle Mines' (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM) Fosterville mine, notable for its geologic similarities to the area. Although there is currently no active gold mine in the region, there are several promising exploration projects with the potential to progress to mining operations.

The Tasmanian government is also actively encouraging exploration. At present, there are only two companies of note with capital interest in the region.

Flynn Gold (ASX:FG1) is among the earliest movers, immediately pursuing multiple assets in Tasmania after listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2021. It has been very active in drilling at its Golden Ridge and Portland projects and has acquired multiple projects in both Northeast and Northwest Tasmania, including Firetower and Warrentinna — which were previously held by Greatland Gold (LSE:GGP,OTC Pink:GRLGF).

The company is also one of the most significant contributors to Tasmanian gold exploration, responsible for roughly half of the AU$8 million in spending from 2022 to 2023. This expenditure seems to have been well spent, with drilling at Golden Ridge yielding encouraging high-grade gold results for the company.

Stellar Resources (ASX:SRZ) is also a major contributor to mineral exploration in the region. Its fully owned subsidiary Tarcoola Iron currently holds 12 exploration licences covering a combined area of 2,212 square kilometres. Eleven of these licences are prospective for Victoria-style orogenic gold and intrusive-related gold systems.

Investor takeaway

Mining and exploration companies have long overlooked the mineral potential of Northeast Tasmania. With similar mineralisation to Australia's Victoria Goldfield and a strong mining sector, it could well be the site of the country's next major gold rush. Flynn Gold and Stellar Resources may be some of the first companies to establish themselves in the area, but they won't be the last.

This INNSpired article is sponsored by Flynn Gold (ASX:FG1). This INNSpired article provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by Flynn Goldin order to help investors learn more about the company. Flynn Gold is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this INNSpired article.

This INNSpired article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with Flynn Goldand seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

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