Horizon Minerals – The Local Gold Mine
Horizon Minerals doesn’t just work with local communities, it is a part of them.
Horizon Minerals is a gold-focused producer, developer, and explorer in the West Australian goldfields.
With a lot of the mines we talk to, the first challenge they encounter is one of infrastructure- large mineral deposits are rarely found near main roads, railways and power lines. But for Horizon’s projects in Boorara, Kalgoorlie Regional, and Coolgardie Regional, this simply isn’t an issue.
“We’re close to infrastructure in one of the world’s largest and most prolific gold jurisdictions,” says Jon Price, Managing Director of Horizon Minerals.
Right now Horizon Minerals is working to move into mid-tier production status. Across their operations, the company is drilling while growing their business into the mid-tier space.
“We have a busy 12 months ahead of us,” Price tells us. “We’ll be making a decision to construct our own processing plant by the middle of next year.”
Where We Raise Our Children
In carrying out these plans, Horizon Minerals’ location has been an important advantage, not just for infrastructure, but for the lifestyle of their employees.
“Location is a key element for us. We have 850km2 of tenure in a 75km radius of the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. There’s no need for a camp or airstrips,” Price says. “All the infrastructure and services are in place, which is better for employees and better for our economics because we don’t need to put in the additional infrastructure. People can drive to work and be home to their family in 15 to 20 minutes.”
These close connections to the community are thrown into sharp relief as Horizon’s mines begin to enter the operational phase. Every mining operation knows the importance of good relations with the local community, but for Horizon the stakes are a bit higher.
“Obviously as we move into the operational phase we’re close to the traditional landowners. We’re working closely with community advocacy groups and as we move into the full-scale operational phase we buy local and use the local businesses,” Price says. “We’ve lived and worked out there for many years and raised our children in these communities, so we want to make sure those communities are getting the maximum benefit from that work. We’re using a local workforce, local suppliers and contractors. We’re making sure that benefit flows through the whole community.”
On the community’s side of things, local people and businesses are more than familiar with the mining sector, but for Price, this only makes it more important to manage the mine’s impact on the local environment.
“On the environmental side, this goldfield has been worked since 1897. It’s a mature goldfield but there’s a lot more gold to mine, so we work hard to minimise our environmental impact,” Price says. “We have the opportunity with energy to use solar, wind, geothermal and hybrid. Our social licensing lets us leave as small a footprint as we can, keeping as close to the lowest carbon scenario as is possible given current variations between diesel, coal and renewable energy. We’re looking at a hybrid solution but also recognise we need an economic outcome for shareholders.”
This is one of the reasons why, when it comes to recruitment, Horizon Minerals is often able to wait for the people to come to them.
“Because we’ve been around in the Western Australian goldfields and our chairman is a local entrepreneur who owns a lot of infrastructure in Kalgoorlie, people come to us,” Price tells us. “We put ads in the local Kalgoorlie Miner and people want to come and talk to us. We want a family-friendly roster and long-term employees. It presents an opportunity to give people that work/life balance and stay close to home.”
While Horizon has benefited from its closeness to community and infrastructure, their location has also benefited from relative isolation during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re very fortunate to be in an isolated community where COVID hasn’t had a major presence at all,” says Price. “Western Australia has had the opportunity to stay open. It’s been almost business as usual. But for us in Kalgoorlie, we’re utilising local drillers and contractors so the impact has been minimal to nil.”
Growing for Gold
Horizon Minerals has been largely protected from the larger events happening elsewhere in the world, but the gold sector is not without its own risks.
“We stick to gold because it’s what we know, with a great deal of experience and a technical suite of expertise,” Price says. “Like everyone in the gold sector, geology risk is the highest risk we face. We’re happy with our jurisdiction in terms of political risk. It comes down to the technical issues.”
Horizon addresses these risks by taking a cautious, softly-softly approach to entering production.
“We take a conservative approach. At our previous successful mining, we drilled out the whole ore body before we commenced mining,” Price recalls. “With our large-scale operation, we have grade control drilled across the whole strike zone we’ve just completed trial mining. So we have a unique opportunity to trial the ore body before we commit a lot of capital. We have a toll milling business next to us we’re using to trial and test the grade. So, we’re set to make money with a high-value orebody but we have the opportunity to test it before we commit.”
Looking forward, Horizon Minerals has a busy year ahead, with their drilling programme already well underway.
“We have four drilling rigs operating continuously for 12 to 18 months. We’re generating confidence for the larger-scale development, with the new flow coming into the market when we complete the feasibility study,” Price explains. “We want to build a 1.5 million-ton processing plant, processing around 60-70,000 ounces an annum initially before growing organically to 100,000 ounces per annum.”
Horizon is also looking into making bolt-on acquisitions as it goes, but Price is sanguine about the fact that acquisitions may not always be a one-way street.
“We have the major producers right next door because it’s a fantastic gold producing region, so as far as acquisitions are concerned we are both predator and prey,” he says. “If we get taken over with a good price for shareholders that’s fine by us, otherwise we want to consolidate with other businesses our size. We have very exciting times ahead with the preparations for our own plant. We want to invite investors to join us on the journey.”
Indeed, it seems like this family-friendly, community-orientated mining company is well on the way to growing into something truly rewarding.