Coloured gemstone miner and retailer Richland Resources has announced that pre-production mining has commenced at the Capricorn Sapphire mine in Queensland which consists of two new mining leases comprising about 490 hectares and associated assets.
The development of the Capricorn Sapphire project forms part of the Richland’s strategy to develop profitable gemstone operations and provides the company with a significant opportunity to develop a low cost, coloured gemstone operation selling fully certificated gemstones to the global market place.
The company said that mining operations are underway and all earth moving machinery required for production is on site, with current operations focused on the development of the first open pit which will host the initial phase of sapphire mining during 2015.
“Topsoil and overburden removal has commenced as part of the development of Pit 1, which is located within the pre-existing JORC defined sapphire resource. As part of the pit development work a drilling contractor is on site and is working with Richland?s geologists to define Pit 1?s final open pit design, layout and mining,” the company said in a press release.
“Following completion of the production design work confirmation and definition holes will also be drilled to enhance the Company’s understanding of the resource. The use of a small-scale processing facility has been secured near the mine and independent geologists and engineers are currently running samples through this pilot plant for assessment. Sapphires have been recovered.”
Richland said that earth moving work was underway to stabilise and rehabilitate areas disturbed by earlier operations as part of its commitment to the Queensland Government to help remediate the historic mine workings.
The company also advised that testing procedures at its purpose-built alluvial processing plant capable of treating up to 200 loose cubic metres (LCM) per hour continued successfully with the various circuits being configured for maximum efficiency.
“Mining has started and we are now readying Pit 1 for commercial production of sapphires in May 2015 and expect to start sales of sapphires in June. This is a significant milestone for Richland as we bring our experience in gemstone mining to Australia,” said Bernard Olivier, CEO of Richland Resources.
“Richland is approaching full mine start in a structured manner and following reports submitted by independent mining consultants we are undertaking infill drilling to help us finalise pit design. The Capricorn Sapphire mine is an exciting opportunity. We look forward to supplying gemstone buyers with consistent quantities of certificated blue and “fancy” stones.”