Gwalia Gold Mine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sons of Gwalia mine, c1921.jpg
Gwalia Gold Mine c.1921
Gwalia Gold Mine is located in Australia
Gwalia Gold Mine
Gwalia Gold Mine
Location in Australia
StateWestern Australia
Coordinates28°55′14″S 121°20′04″E / 28.92056°S 121.33444°E / -28.92056; 121.33444Coordinates: 28°55′14″S 121°20′04″E / 28.92056°S 121.33444°E / -28.92056; 121.33444
Financial year2008-09
CompanySt Barbara Limited
WebsiteSt Barbara website
Year of acquisitionMarch 2005

The Gwalia Gold Mine is located at Gwalia, a few kilometres south of Leonora, Western Australia. It was originally established by Welsh miners in the late 19th century and Herbert Hoover, the later President of the United States, served as the mine manager in its early days from May to November 1898.[1][2]

It is operated by St Barbara Limited.[1] Apart from Gwalia, St Barbara also operates the Marvel Loch Gold Mine at Marvel Loch and owns the Tarmoola Gold Mine, which is placed in care and maintenance.[3][4]

All three mines were previously owned by the now defunct mining company Sons of Gwalia Limited.[5] Sons of Gwalia went into administration on 30 August 2004 and the company's gold mining operations were sold to St Barbara in March 2005 for A$38 Million, having been valued by the Sons of Gwalia directors at A$120 Million. While Marvel Loch was operational before and after the sale, the Gwalia mine was already placed in care and maintenance at the time of the transaction. A fourth mine, the Carosue Dam Gold Mine, ceased operation in June 2005 and has since been sold by St Barbara.[6][7][8]


It was established in 1896 as the Sons of Gwalia mine. It was referred to in the Welsh-language press as Aur-gloddfa Meibion Gwalia = (the) goldmine (of) (the) Sons (of) Gwalia.[9] Gwalia is a medieval Latin name for Wales which became popular in Welsh-language poetry in the nineteenth century.

The Sons of Gwalia reef was discovered by three prospectors who worked it for a brief time. After selling out to George Hall for £5,000 the latter recouped his investment after only one month. In search for additional capital, Hall began negotiations with a London firm, Bewick Moreing, who sent Herbert Hoover, a 23-year-old mining engineer, to the site. Hoover recommended Bewick Moreing purchase the mine, which they did with a cash commitment of £100,000 on 17 November 1897.[10] He suggested himself as manager of the project and successfully reduced costs at the mine by hiring Italian labour.[2]

A fierce rivalry between Gwalia and neighbouring Leonora developed and a tram service was established between the two towns in 1903. From the 1920s, the town started to decline when external factors like the falling gold price started to affect the mine. On 21 December 1963, the gold mine at Gwalia closed and the town was reduced in population from 1,500 to 40.[2] The Sons of Gwalia mining company was delisted for the first time on 4 February 1964.[6] In 65 years of operation, the mine had produced 2,500,000 ounces of gold.[11]

Gold mines in the Kalgoorlie - Leonora region

In the 1980s, a new Sons of Gwalia company, formed by the brothers Peter and Chris Lalor, descendants of Peter Lalor,[12] started retreating old tailings before mining the old workings. In 1999, having concluded mining the Gwalia open pit, it started to develop an underground operation, passing through old workings by 2001.[11]

On 4 September 2000, a flight to the Gwalia mine with seven SGW employees failed to land, instead continuing on to Burketown, where it eventually crashed, having run out of fuel. The pilot and the planes seven passengers were killed.[13]

From 2001 onwards, the mine was part of the company's Leonora operations, after it acquired the Tarmoola Gold Mine through a merger with Pacmin Mining. Tarmoola is located 40 km north of the Gwalia mine.[14]

In December 2003, the mine was placed in care and maintenance after known gold resources were exhausted.[15]

After a rapid rise of the company, unauthorised gold and foreign exchange trading activities by chief financial officer Eardley Ross-Adjie in the year to June 2000, ended up costing Sons of Gwalia more than A$190 million.[12] Sons of Gwalia went into administration on 30 August 2004, following a financial collapse, with debts exceeding $800 million after suffering from falling gold reserves and hedging losses.[16] Sons of Gwalia was Australia's third-largest gold producer and also controlled more than half the world's production of tantalum.[17]

St Barbara purchased the mine from insolvent Sons of Gwalia in March 2005 with a three-year plan to reopen it.[7]

After a three-year redevelopment, production resumed at the mine in September 2008, with the first gold pour being carried out in October 2008.[18] The Hoover decline, named after the late President, was at 1,191 metres below surface as of 30 June 2009. The plant currently continues to operate on a campaign basis, one week on, one week off.[19]


Production of the mine:

Year Production Grade Cost per ounce
1997-98[20] 113,767 ounces
2000[11] 169,025 ounces 3.28 g/t A$301
2001[11] 164,895 ounces 3.13 g/t A$324
2002[11] 79,353 ounces 1 1.99 g/t A$457
2002-03 2[14] 237,036 ounces A$470
2003-04 2[21] 165,802 ounces A$476
2005-06[22] inactive
2006-07[23] inactive
2007-08[24] inactive
2008-09[19] 82,795 ounces 3.3 g/t A$719
2011 3[25] 131,133 ounces A$765
2012 3[25] 184,534 ounces A$646
  • 1 2002 results for January to September only.
  • 2 Combined result for the Leonora operations, consisting of Gwalia and Tarmoola. The Gwalia mine however closed in December 2003.
  • 3 Only the Gwalia mine, excludes King of the Hill extension.



  1. ^ a b St Barbara website - Leonora accessed: 3 September 2009
  2. ^ a b c Gwalia Historic Site - History Archived 2010-01-10 at the Wayback Machine. accessed: 4 September 2009
  3. ^ St Barbara website - Southern Cross accessed: 3 September 2009
  4. ^ St Barbara website - Operations overview accessed: 3 September 2009
  5. ^ The Australian Mines Handbook: 2003-2004 Edition, page 520
  6. ^ a b Sons of Gwalia Limited at accessed: 3 September 2009
  7. ^ a b St Barbara Mines Limited - Lodgement of Open Briefing Archived 2009-09-15 at the Wayback Machine. published: 28 June 2005, accessed: 3 September 2009
  8. ^ The West Australian, published 16 March 2005, accessed: 3 September 2009
  9. ^ "Aur-gloddfa Meibion Gwalia". Tarian y Gweithiwr. 26 May 1898. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  10. ^ William J. Coughlin. "How the Young Herbert Hoover Made His Name -- and Fortune -- in Australia". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  11. ^ a b c d e The Australian Mines Handbook: 2003-2004 Edition, page 105
  12. ^ a b How sons of Lalor built, then sank, Sons of Gwalia The Sydney Morning Herald, accessed: 4 September 2009
  13. ^ Media Release re: Aircraft Accident SGW ASX announcement, published: 5 September 2000, accessed: 8 February 2010
  14. ^ a b Sons of Gwalia annual report 2003 accessed: 12 January 2010
  15. ^ Second Quarter Activities Report SGW quarterly report December 2003, published: 20 January 2004, accessed: 7 February 2010
  16. ^ Ernst &Young agrees to $125m Sons of Gwalia settlement The West Australian, published: 4 September 2009, accessed: 4 September 2009
  17. ^ Sons of Gwalia's gold hedging had big holes The Sydney Morning Herald, published: 4 September 2004, accessed: 4 September 2009
  18. ^ First Gold Pour at Leonora Operations St Barbara website, published: 23 October 2008, accessed: 4 September 2009
  19. ^ a b June 2009 quarterly report accessed: 3 September 2009
  20. ^ Media Release: Highlights from Quarterly Report 30-6-98 SGW ASX announcement, published: 17 July 1998, accessed: 8 February 2010
  21. ^ Sons of Gwalia fourth quarter report 2004 accessed: 12 January 2010
  22. ^ 2006 Annual report accessed: 3 September 2009
  23. ^ 2007 Annual report accessed: 3 September 2009
  24. ^ 2008 Annual report accessed: 3 September 2009
  25. ^ a b 2012 Annual report accessed: 26 April 2014

External links[edit]