In the late 19th century, gold fever was running high in certain southern parts of Western Australia. Among the prospectors were two brothers from the Shetland Isles, Lawrence and George Sinclair. They finally struck gold some 20 km north of Dundas, an already established find, and quickly realized the gold deposit was very prosperous. The Sinclair brothers founded a town on the site and named it Norseman – after their horse.
Today, that corner of Western Australia is known as the Goldfields region. The Central Norseman Gold Mine was founded there in 1935 and ran until 2014, making it Australia’s longest continuously-running gold mining operation. During that time, it produced over 5.5 million ounces, or more than 150 tonnes, of gold.
The gold reserves in the area were far from depleted, though. A few years later, Australian gold producer Pantoro Limited acquired 50% ownership of the Norseman Gold Project and, in 2022, brought back online three mines: the OK underground mine, the Scotia open pit and the Green Lantern open pit.
Underground operation at the Norseman OK mine is contracted by Westauz Mining, headquartered in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. At the proposal of Robit’s Sales Manager Steve Tedge, Westauz agreed to run a development bit trial at Norseman OK in December 2022. Since Robit’s bits outperformed the competition by far in terms of cost-per-meter, Westauz awarded the drilling consumables business to Robit in early 2023.
“Throughout 2023, volumes have only grown at the OK mine site as the decline has been rehabilitated and access gained to the gold ore. Westauz is now using our Top Hammer underground bits, rods, shanks, and couplings”, says Steve Landreth, Robit’s Vice President Australasia.
Westauz have expressed their satisfaction with Robit’s can-do attitude and willingness to work with their customer. “In the early stages of the agreement, Westauz requested Robit make a design change to the development bits. Our engineering team was happy to oblige, and the bit now provides productivity gains in the drilling process. We are receiving very positive feedback, ranging from the Managing Director, General Manager, Project Manager, Mine foreman and operators”, Steve Landreth says.
For Westauz, the Norseman project has marked a significant growth in business. Plenty of excavating remains to be done at the site for years to come: according to current estimates, the remaining mineral resource in the area is around 4.8 million ounces, or some 136 tonnes, of gold.
Picture: Westauz jumbo at work & Norseman the horse has a statue in the town that was named after him.