Since gold was first discovered in Coolgardie in 1892, prospectors have been flocking to the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia in search of the prized metal. Stretching across 320,000 square kilometers, the area boasts impressive infrastructure and support services, a highly skilled mining workforce and a vibrant community.
But these days, finding fortune involves a lot more than shaking a pan. Transitioning from high-risk exploration to high-profit production requires significant capital investment and brings with it a new set of risks. From price volatility to stringent regulatory requirements, explorers that chase big production dollars too quickly can easily stumble if they don’t play their cards right.
When Intermin Resources decided to take the plunge and monetize the assets it held in the open-pit Teal gold mine near Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, it called upon Grant Haywood to lead the charge. He didn’t hesitate.
“I joined the company in 2016 as a consultant and worked on the feasibility study,” Haywood says. “We got that mine into production, and then I came on in a permanent capacity as COO.”
After merging with MacPhersons Resources in 2019, Intermin Resources rebranded as Horizon Minerals. With Haywood now at the helm as CEO, Horizon has its sights set on becoming Western Australia’s next standalone gold producer.
In the past seven years, Horizon has built its resource base up from about 200,000 ounces to 1.26 million ounces, Haywood says.
“We’ve also built a portfolio of assets that we’re ready to monetize, so we’ve been divesting our non-core assets and building up our cash balance,” he explains. “We’ve secured funding to develop our sustainable production plan, so we’re ready to start producing gold bars.”
Meanwhile, Horizon is looking to start its first underground mining project early next year.
“We’ll start with our Cannon underground mine, and then we’ll roll the cash we make from that into the next bigger underground mine. We also have a third one coming off the rank, as well as some small open pits,” he says.
“With investor sentiment toward small, cap-listed gold explorers being quite poor at the moment, trying to raise capital is very difficult. But the gold price itself is at very high levels and very strong, so we see our way forward in a production scenario is to make hay while the sun shines.”
The emerging mid-tier gold producer only has a small corporate team and four geologists working in its Kalgoorlie office, so it is currently in talks with several joint venture and contracting parties in the hopes of forming a strategic partnership that will take its production capacity to the next level.
Haywood says he’s keen to team up with those willing to take on the region’s risks for the chance of a significant reward.
“We’re open to JVs with partners that want to put in some capital and share the costs and profits with us, or we’re happy to find a contractor that will work with us and do it ourselves,” he says.
In addition to forming mutually beneficial partnerships, Horizon is always on the lookout for strategic merger and acquisition opportunities.
“I can see us coming together with another party over the next few years,” Haywood says.
“When we merged with MacPhersons in 2019, we had about 600,000 ounces and they had about 500,000 ounces, so we doubled our resource base. We’re always on the lookout for further opportunities.”
As Horizon grows, the mining company has a strong focus on developing ESG strategies and upholding its core values of honesty and integrity.
“We’ve engaged BDO to help us develop our ESG program and we’ll put out our first sustainability report in the next year,” Haywood notes.
“We also like to engage with our stakeholders early. We talk with our traditional owners, the pastoralists, the local governments and all the other stakeholders in the region because it’s a place that’s close to our hearts given that many of us live here. We want to be an ethical business that is talked about positively in the community.”