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01/11 - Drilling begins at gold mine near Braidwood

Drilling has begun at the Dargues Gold Mine near Majors Creek south of the New South Wales town of Braidwood.

The exploration involves searching for the exact location of gold deposits in the area ahead of a full-scale dig.

According to a quarterly report out from the project's developer, Unity Mining, the project is progressing well despite some weather-related delays to work.

The report also says the company plans to move gold mining equipment from Bendigo to the Dargues Reef mine site.

Its Managing Director Andrew McIlwain says an access road has been built.

"We're at the point where the underground mine development is about to start and very soon we will be finalising the construction arrangements for the processing plant," he said.

"In the next week or so some unique and specific underground mining equipment will be mobilised to do the ground support in the box cut which is the initial opening into the underground mine.

"We are finalising our financing for the project.

"We expect to be producing gold at Dargues by the end of next year."

He says the company employs about 35 people in the area and that workforce will soon expand.

"As construction moves forward there'll be in excess of another 100 people coming on-site," he said.

"We have drill rigs operating on-site to extend the known resource and we also have a team that are doing regional exploration work.

"We have a view that there's more gold to be found yet and that's certainly why we're operating in the district."

The mining project has been the subject of two investigations by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority.

The first happened in March 2013, when sediment from the mine was washed into local waterways by heavy rain.

The second investigation began in August 2013, after a chemical water purification agent drained from the mine into the surrounding area.

Mr McIlwain says the mine is regulated by numerous authorities that keep a close eye on the project.

"The issues before the project earlier were related to where we didn't have sufficient capacity to collect water and that's certainly been addressed," he said.

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