Gold in Victoria

Though it represents a fraction of Australian output, Victoria is notable for a re-emerging gold development community.

The Australian state of Victoria has a long history with gold, with the precious metal having been discovered mere months after the colony was created in the mid-1800s.

Since then, gold has been a foundation of Victorian identity. Many of the grand buildings in the capital city of Melbourne, along with the former boomtowns of the central goldfields, were funded by the vast wealth that was mined in the small Australian state.

That wealth made Melbourne one of the richest cities in the British Empire in the 1800s, while the lure of prosperity made it the second largest at the time, behind only London itself.

Today, gold continues to be mined in Victoria. Though it represents a fraction of Australian output, the state is notable for a re-emerging gold development community, with many explorers sniffing around the area from Australia and beyond.

In 2018, 13 of the 315 tonnes of gold mined in Australia came from Victoria from seven active mines — most of which are located within regions known for vast historical output of the yellow metal near the cities of Ballarat and Bendigo, and in the Great Dividing Range.

While gold reserves in Victoria are low in comparison to other Australian states, output continues to rise, and gold has been a staple since the first major waves of settlement in the 19th century. Today, the state has a vastly diversified economy, but it all began with gold.

There are not so many producers in the state today, but Melbourne is home to some of the largest mining companies in the world, with BHP (ASX:BHP,LSE:BHP,NYSE:BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,NYSE:RIO,LSE:RIO) hosted in the city, pointing to a healthy industry for capital raising.

The largest gold-producing mine is Fosterville, which is owned by none other than Canadian company Kirkland Lake Gold, famed for its profitable operations in Ontario.

Read on to learn about some of the top gold-focused companies currently operating in Victoria.

1. Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA)

Market cap: AU$16.12 billion

As mentioned, Canadian company Kirkland Lake Gold is the operator of the prolific Fosterville gold mine, located in Central Victoria near the city of Bendigo, a former gold rush boomtown.

Fosterville produced some 619,366 ounces of gold in 2019 — representing a rapid ramp up of mining activity since 2016, when it produced 150,000 ounces. The mine has been producing gold since 2005, and is the premier mine in the state, accounting for a majority of gold produced annually.

Kirkland Lake continues to carry out promising exploration around the mine, with intent to expand known mineralized zones.

2. Mandalay Resources (TSX:MND)

Market cap: C$143.26 million

Despite being listed in Canada, Mandalay Resources’ two producing assets are in Australia and Sweden. Its Australian operation is the gold-producing Costerfield mine in Central Victoria, where 15,258 ounces were produced in 2019. Guidance from the company puts 2020 production between 44,000 and 48,000 ounces, representing a massive ramp up in gold output.

Costerfield has been in Mandalay’s hands since 2009, with the company pouring millions of dollars into expanding processing capacity and exploration. The mine is situated near the city of Bendigo, which is as mentioned a historic gold-mining settlement.

3. Navarre Minerals (ASX:NML)

Market cap: AU$130.18 million

Navarre Minerals is an explorer and developer with projects in early to late-stage development in Western Victoria. It currently holds tenements across gold zones in the state, with some near the Fosterville mine and another near the historic Stawell gold mine. The company’s objective is to to drill around known gold sources.

Navarre is exploring what it calls “Fosterville-like” gold potential around its St. Arnaud gold project, located to the west of Bendigo.

4. AusStar Gold (ASX:AUL)

Market cap: AU$16.13 million

AuStar Gold is a small company with lofty goals, aiming to be one of the next mid-tier gold producers in Australia. Its tactic is the restarting of mining in historically prolific regions.

The company has interests in two historic mines, including Morning Star in the Great Dividing Range, near the historic mining town (and now ghost town) of Walhalla.

The gold field Morning Star is located in has historically produced some 6 million ounces of gold, while the Morning Star mine itself produced 800,000 ounces over its lifetime, once counting as one of the largest underground gold mines in the country.

The second project of interest owned by AuStar is the Rose of Denmark mine, located near Morning Star. A smaller prospect, this mine produced 36,000 ounces of gold in its former life, and according to AuStar is a promising source of more gold for future Morning Star processing operations.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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