Telfer Mine

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Telfer Mine
Telfer Mine is located in Australia
Telfer Mine
Telfer Mine
Location in Australia
StateWestern Australia
Coordinates21°42′30″S 122°13′40″E / 21.70833°S 122.22778°E / -21.70833; 122.22778Coordinates: 21°42′30″S 122°13′40″E / 21.70833°S 122.22778°E / -21.70833; 122.22778
ProductionCopper: 34,815 tonnes
Gold: 688,909 ounces
Financial year2009-10
Opened1977, 2005 (reopened)
CompanyNewcrest Mining
WebsiteNewcrest website
Year of acquisition1990

The Telfer Mine is a copper and gold mine located at Telfer, in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. It is owned by Newcrest Mining, Australia's largest gold producer.[1]

The mine was discovered by Newmont Mining in 1972, however, French prospector Jean-Paul Turcaud disputes this claim to this day.[2][3]

The mine is located on the land of the Martu indigenous people.[4]

In the 2008-09 financial year, the mine produced 32,905 tonnes of copper and 629,108 ounces of gold, within Newcrest's overall production of 90,000 tonnes of copper and 1.6 million ounces of gold.[5] Telfer is one of two gold mines Newcrest currently operates in Australia – the other being Cadia in New South Wales – after selling its shares in the Cracow and Mt Rawdon mines to Evolution Mining Ltd in 2011.[6] A third gold mine owned by the company is the Gosowong Mine in Indonesia.[7]



Newmont Mining first made a claim to the deposit in 1972.[8] However this claim is disputed by Jean-Paul Turcaud to this date. Turcaud claims he found the Telfer deposit two years before Newcrest did. In the early 1980s, Turcaud reached a settlement, accepting $25,000 from Newmont's head office in New York City but continued his claim, demanding a Royal Commission.[2][9] Turcaud continues to sign posts on Global warming to newspapers as the Discoverer of the Telfer and Nifty Mine.[10][11]

The official story of the discovery states that the deposit was found by Day Dawn Minerals, a small exploration company, who did not stake a claim either. One of the company's geologists, a man called Ronnie Thomson, then moved on to work for Newmont, in which position he informed David Tyrwhitt, then exploration manager for the company in Western Australia, about the promising gold samples that had been found. Newmont paid Day Dawn $15,000 for the maps of the deposit and Tyrwhitt staked out the claim in May 1972.[2]

First mining period 1977 to 2000[edit]

The mine opened in 1977 as a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Newmont Mining. In 1990, a merger between Newmont Australia Limited and BHP Gold Limited resulted in the creation of Newcrest Mining, with ownership of the Telfer Mine now lying with Newcrest.[12][13] The Telfer gold mine was expanded in 1991,[14] and in June 1995, the mine reserves were 3.8 million troy ounces, with resources at 7.3 million troy ounces. The annual production was 370,000 to 380,000 troy ounces of ore.[15] In 1997, the mine reached the milestone of having produced 5 million ounces of gold.[8] Open cut mining was suspended in August 2000 due to high operating costs. The closure of the mine came one year ahead of schedule as production of underground ore was well below mill capacity and therefore not viable.[8] High production costs were primarily caused by the presence of cyanide soluble copper in the open pit ore.[13] Newcrest then focused on exploratory drilling for new minerals.[12]

Second mining period from 2002[edit]

In 2002, Newcrest Mining announced a new redevelopment project worth $1 billion,[16] after discovering new mineral areas and a reserve base of some 19 million troy ounces of gold and 640,000 tonnes (710,000 short tons) of copper.[17] The redevelopment expanded underground mining areas, deepened open pits, constructed a processing plant and power station, and built a new gas supply line from Port Hedland.[12][18] The Telfer mine is not connected to the Western Australian power grid but instead produces its own power from natural gas via a 450 km purpose built pipeline. The power station on site is able to produce 138 MW of power.[19] The focus changed from open pit mining to underground mining, and Telfer became one of Australia's largest gold mines,[12] second only to Kalgoorlie's Super Pit.[20]

The mine reopened in November 2004, after commissioning of the processing plant and, initially as an open cut mine, from March 2006 also with an underground operation.[13][19]

In January 2008, Newcrest Mining lowered the mine's annual gold output targets. Newcrest said, "At Telfer, mechanical availability of the open pit mining fleet and the processing of harder ores are impacting the expected production profile for the full year. Telfer site cash costs are expected to [rise] over guidance by 8-9 per cent."[21] In June, the mine was affected by the statewide gas crisis caused by an explosion at Varanus Island. The mine lost 20,000 to 25,000 troy ounces of gold output for June.[22] Newcrest obtained interim gas supply from Woodside Petroleum until August, when gas supply from Varanus Island resumed.[23]

Newcrest was forced to cut job numbers from 1,400 to around 1,000 in late 2008, during the financial crises, to reduce costs.[24]

As of 2016, the forecast mine life for Telfer is 2021 for the underground operations and 2018 for the open pit operations. Mining is carried out at the Main Dome open pit and the underground operations below. The West Dome pit is being mined again.[19]

On 4 December 2013 a contractor was killed at the mine, being crushed by pipe work.[25]


Production figures for the mine:[19]


Year Production Grade Cost per ounce
1999[8] 314,295 ounces 1.33 g/t A$390
2000[8] 176,000 ounces 1.62 g/t A$494
2001–2003 inactive
2004-05 218,000 ounces
2005-06 650,000 ounces
2006-07 627,000 ounces
2007-08 590,000 ounces
2008-09 629,108 ounces
2009-10 688,909 ounces


Year Production Grade Cost
2004-05 25,000 tonnes
2005-06 38,000 tonnes
2006-07 28,000 tonnes
2007-08 27,000 tonnes
2008-09 32,905 tonnes
2009-10 34,815 tonnes



  1. ^ Newcrest website accessed: 27 January 2010
  2. ^ a b c The Golden Riddle: Finder's Keepers? ABC Radio National, produced by Bronwyn Adcock, broadcast: 6 June 1999, accessed: 27 January 2010
  3. ^ Newcrest's Great Sandy speculation The Intelligent Investor, published: 13 April 2005, accessed: 27 January 2010
  4. ^ 2009 Annual Report Newcrest ASX announcement, published: 29 September 2009, accessed: 27 January 2010
  5. ^ Preliminary Final Report 2009 Newcrest ASX announcement, published: 17 August 2009, accessed: 27 January 2010
  6. ^ History – About us, accessed: 4 April 2016
  7. ^ December Quarterly Report Newcrest ASX announcement, published: 28 January 2010, accessed: 9 February 2010
  8. ^ a b c d e The Australian Mines Handbook: 2003-2004 Edition, page 128, accessed: 27 January 2010
  9. ^ The Golden Rule Book review, author: Bob Sheppard, ISBN 0-85905-311-3, accessed: 27 January 2010
  10. ^ Davos must deal with the water crisis Article in The Telegraph with comment from Jean-Paul Turcaud, published: 21 January 2008, accessed: 27 January 2010
  11. ^ Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in Article in The Independent with comment from Jean-Paul Turcaud, published: 1 February 2009, accessed: 27 January 2010
  12. ^ a b c d "Marco Zolezzi, general manager, Telfer gold mine, Western Australia". Australian Mining. 2004-09-15.
  13. ^ a b c History of NCM Archived 2 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Newcrest website, accessed: 27 January 2010
  14. ^ "Elsewhere in precious metals... the second phase of the development". Metals Week. 1991-03-11. p. 8.
  15. ^ "Newcrest upbeat on Telfer mine". Reuters News. 1996-06-21.
  16. ^ "Newcrest cold on Telfer raising". The West Australian. 2002-03-25. p. 28.
  17. ^ Phaceas, John (2002-11-20). "Newcrest nod to invest $1b in Telfer". The West Australian. p. 61.
  18. ^ "Newcrest gets expansion nod". ABC News. 2002-08-20.
  19. ^ a b c d Operations - Telfer Archived 22 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Newcrest website, accessed: 27 January 2010
  20. ^ Peel, Greg (2007-11-16). "Tantalising Telfer". FN Arena.
  21. ^ Le May, Rebecca (2008-01-25). "Miner loses friends as Telfer costs jump". Finance. The Daily Telegraph. p. 62.
  22. ^ Thompson, Dionne (2008-06-27). "Newcrest's Telfer gold output down 25,000 oz on Apache gas stoppage". Metal Bulletin.
  23. ^ "Telfer gas supply back to normal". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  24. ^ Newcrest to slash mine jobs at its Telfer mine The Australian, published: 24 October 2008, accessed: 27 January 2010
  25. ^ Worker killed at Newcrest's Telfer mine in WA north Australian Broadcasting Corporation, published: 4 December 2013, accessed: 31 December 2013

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