A US$105 million, three-year credit facility has been secured by Australian gold producer Norton Gold Fields to fund its 2013 capital spending requirements and ongoing exploration programs.
The facility has been secured through the Perth branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and is secured by a letter of guarantee by the company’s major shareholder Zijin Mining Group.
Norton’s managing director Dr Dianmin Chen says the facility will be progressively drawn down to pay for works at its Paddington operations, to repay the company’s $38 million Zijin loan and explore acquisition opportunities.
“Zijin is a very supportive major shareholder in Norton. Zijin’s support in this facility provides us the platform to grow through exploration and acquisitions, as well as increasing gold production and reducing operating costs. We expect the entire amount of the loan facility will be drawn down by quarter 2 of 2013,” he says.
Norton has annual production of more than 150,000 ounces of gold. It has a mining and processing complex in Western Australia’s world-class Kalgoorlie gold region, including the highly prospective tenement package of 678sqkm surrounding the 3.7 million tonne/annum Paddington mill.
The Paddington operation has gold ore reserves of 1.03 million ounces and mineral resources of 6.03 million ounces, with a mine life of more than 10 years.
Since acquiring Paddington in 2007, Norton has operated the mill at high levels of availability and utilization. During the 2011-2012 financial year the mill processed a record 3.7 million tonnes of ore, an increase of 6% on the previous year. The volume of gold shipped was 150,695 ounces. The company also owns the Mount Morgan gold tailings project in central Queensland.