Aspiring gold miner Integra Mining is now spending $A16 million ($US15.31M) on an aggressive drill programme at Salt Creek on the Aldiss-Randalls gold project, east of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, to further define a resource as metallurgical studies progress and re-siting of the former New Celebration gold plant on site gathers pace.

The company has been carrying out a major drilling programme over the last six months on one of the less spectacular mining camps that was opened up in Australia's 1980s gold boom, confirming Salt Creek as one of the outstanding gold finds in Australia in recent years.

The company said Thursday the consolidated mineral resources at the project now total 20 million tonnes grading 2.7 grams/tonne, a grade considered highly favourable for economic open cut development particularly with the shallow nature and robust intersections of high grade gold of Salt Creek. 

The Company's other deposits being assessed for development include the Maxwells and Cock-Eyed Bob deposits in the Randalls tenements, 15 kilometres from Salt Creek. These have well defined resources of 2.4 Mt @ at 5.2 g/t gold for 410,000 contained oz (Maxwells) and 440,000t @ 5.9 g/t gold for 85,000 contained oz (Cock-Eyed Bob). These deposits have also responded well metallurgically and could provide 95% contained gold recoveries.

Integra's managing director, Chris Cairns, said: Not since the discovery of the Thunderbox gold deposit almost a decade ago has the (WA) Eastern Goldfields yielded a gold discovery so amenable to open pit mining. 

He said the potential to upgrade the bulk of the resource on the Salt Creek deposit was now the subject of a geostatistical review. This deposit was displaying excellent open pit mining attributes with 97% of the mineral resource within 150 metres of surface.

There had also been excellent results from metallurgical testwork on Salt Creek drill core, with recoveries of 95.8% achieved with a coarse grind using conventional processing technology. More than 40% of gold could be recovered by gravity.  

The New Celebration gold plant has now been dismantled at the big completed open cut operation of that name that sits between Kalgoorlie and Kambalda and the decision to re-assemble it at Randalls eliminates the option of carting ore for 60 km. The blueprint is to commission the mill on higher grade zones at Salt Creek in 2009 to initially recover about 120,000 oz gold per annum.