Australian firm PNX Metals has secured environmental approval for its Fountain Head gold project located approximately 170km south of Darwin, Northern Territory (NT), Australia.

The approval has been issued by the Northern Territory’s Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security under the NT Environment Protection Act 2019 (EP Act).

The environmental approval completes the environmental impact statement (EIS) process for the Fountain Head project.

PNX submitted the EIS for the project last year.

The EIS contains a comprehensive risk assessment, including studies on groundwater and surface water, biodiversity, Aboriginal and cultural heritage, socioeconomic impacts, transport, air quality, noise, and rehabilitation.

PNX managing director James Fox said: “The grant of environmental approval for the Fountain Head gold project is the culmination of a significant body of work, and a milestone event in PNX’s Pine Creek integrated development strategy.

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“The project team is now focused on completing and submitting mine management plans, and progressing approvals for the Hayes Creek Zinc-Gold-Silver Project.

“Near-mine and regional exploration will re-start shortly with a focus on two newly identified highly prospective ‘gold’ corridors containing multiple high-priority drill targets on our northern leases.”

PNX will now submit a Mining Management Plan (MMP) to the Department of Industry, Tourism & Trade (DITT) for assessment.

The MMP will contain recommendations from the NT EPA regarding the Fountain Head project.

In 2008, GBS placed the Fountain Head open-pit mine in care and maintenance. Since mining ceased in 2009, the site has filled over time with groundwater inflows, surface water runoff and rainfall.

Formerly Newmarket Gold NT Holdings, Kirkland Lake Gold purchased the GBS Gold leases in 2009.

The Fountain Head Tally Ho Project Area (FHTHPA) leases were then transferred to PNX Metals (PNX) from Kirkland Lake Gold following the submission of the Care and Maintenance Mining Management Plan (MMP) and associated Application for Authorisation in 2020.

The Fountain Head project involves recommencing mining of the open pit mine, which includes the dewatering and expansion of the existing open pit, as well as the construction of crushing facilities and a gold processing plant.

Following a successful review of the latest MMP, DITT plans to provide a mining authorisation for the project in the third quarter of 2023. This would mark the last step in the approvals process for the project.