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The Sandpiper gold bearing ore body is located in the Bald Hill open pit gold mining operation in the Western Tanami Desert, 300 kilometres south east of Halls Creek and just 30 kilometres from the Western Australia- Northern Territory Border. It is situated near the suspended Coyote underground gold mine where the Sandpiper ore is treated at Tanami Gold NL's centrally located gold processing plant.

The Bald Hill Open pit Began Operations With the Sandpiper ore Body
The Sandpiper gold deposit contains a probable reserve of 53,000 tonnes of mineralised ore that grades at 3 grams a tonne which equals 5,000 ounces. A total of 14 exploratory diamond drill holes totalling 4,409 metres have defined the Sandpiper deposit to more than 400 metres in a downwards plunge beginning at the base of the Bald Hill open cut. The best intersection occurred at 11 metres where it was grading at 4.9 grams a tonne and at 2.6 metres where it graded at 30.1 grams a tonne.

Sandpiper Excavation Joined by the Exploitation of the Kookaburra Deposit

Besides the Sandpiper deposit, the Bald Hill open cut contains a second ore body known at the Kookaburra deposit. This ore body has a probable reserve of 408,000 tonnes of mineralised ore grading at around 2.8 grams a tonne that can be expected to return 37,000 ounces of gold. At the end of the June quarter in 2011 Tanami Gold NL posted a production result of 14,391 ounces of gold from its Western Tanami operations, that included the Coyote underground mine, with a full year production result of 40,542 ounces of gold. The Bald Hill contribution totalled 9,629 ounces for the quarter from the Kookaburra workings.

Sandpiper Deposit Pre-stripped in the 2010/11 Financial Year

Pre-stripping of the Bald Hill open pit, to facilitate access to the Sandpiper deposit, was carried out during the 2010/2011financial year. At the same time the mine owner, Tanami Gold NL, upgraded the gold treatment plant at the Coyote underground mine site to enable it to handle a throughput of 250,000 tonnes of ore annually. This was achieved with the addition of three new leach tanks and a secondary crusher that could withstand the harder ore being mined at the Coyote underground operation.

Bald Hill Open cut is Highly Mineralised

Besides the Sandpiper and Kookaburra gold deposits existing at the Bald Hill open cut mine, other orebodies at the pit include the Osprey, Hawk, Cuckoo and Lyrebird. There are also a number of smaller gold prospecting opportunities in the same area, such as the Ginger, Fremlin, Rabies, Pebbles and Roadrunner. All within five to 20 kilometres of the Coyote processing plant. The mining operations are all close to the famed Tanami Desert track that stretches from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory to Halls Creek in Western Australia, one of the most remote areas in Australia.

Low Gold Prices Takes its Toll on Further Production

Gold was first discovered in the Tanami Desert area during the 1900's but was only seriously explored in the 2000's. The tenements around the Sandpiper deposit were originally granted to Acacia Resources and passed on to Anglogold in 2000. Tanami Gold NL acquired the tenements from Anglogold in 2003. Faults with the gold treatment plant halted production shortly after mining commenced in two open pits and in 2007 production was curtailed again due to heavy rainfall and did not re-open until 2009 when the original pits were abandoned and the underground operation began. The Bald Hill open pit, containing the Sandpiper deposit, was opened in 2009, 30 kilometres to the north of the Coyote treatment plant. In 2013 the decision was made to suspend operations due to the falling gold price.

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