Tough Gig: Reopening Abandoned Mount Todd Mine Site
Against a background of hope for job creation and concern for the environment, a proposal to turn the abandoned Mount Todd mine site into one of Australia’s largest gold operations is up in the air.
The site, near Katherine in the Northern Territory, stopped operating at the turn of the century after it went into voluntary administration.
In 2006, Canadian company Vista Gold purchased the site, which is estimated at holding about $15 billion worth of gold, and made it operational, spending $90 million on it, but the company is yet to win environmental approval.
After a toxic water leak in 2013, Vista Gold was criticised by the NT Environment Protection Authority for poor water management.
Challenges that the company face in order to their goal achieved are not limited to obtaining permits – they also have to pump gigalitres of water from the abandoned mining pit, which can only be done during the wet season, which can be temperamental.
Vista Gold general manager Brent Murdoch told the ABC that 2015 is the first year they’ve been able to reduce water inventory on the site.
“We’ve had a number of controlled releases this year,” he said.
“We’ve been able to release 1.3GL. The wet season hasn’t quite delivered for us.”
Mr Murdoch said the company also needed the gold price to rise before the company would go into production.
“Getting the water out of the Batman mine is one of the tasks but really we need the gold market to change and be a bit higher before we go into production,” he said.