Saracen Mineral has produced the first gold from the A$65m ($46m) Thunderbox gold project in Western Australia (WA).

With the latest development, the company said it is on track to double its production rate to 300,000oz a year.

Saracen said the Thunderbox development has been funded using internal cashflows generated by its Carosue Dam project in WA.

The plant is now fully operational, and commissioning is continuing in order to increase the mine’s design capacity to 2.5Mtpa.

At present, around 210,000t of commissioning ore grading 0.9g/t is stockpiled on the run of mine (ROM) pad.

"Thunderbox gives us the level of production and cashflow sought after by international investors, while enabling us to remain debt-free."

Saracen plans to carry out drilling later in 2016 to extend the project life beyond ten years.

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Saracen managing director Raleigh Finlayson said: "Thunderbox gives us the level of production and cashflow sought after by international investors, while enabling us to remain debt-free.

"The potential plus-ten-year mine life of Thunderbox and the exploration upside at both Thunderbox and Carosue Dam means we have a sustainable production profile with strong growth prospects."

Prior to achieving the production, the company has recently introduced first ore to the grinding circuit and completed refurbishment of all key areas of the processing plant, crushing, grinding and classification, leaching and adsorption.

Image: (Left to right) Saracen non-executive director Martin Reed, chairman Geoff Clifford, processing manager Wayne Heedes and managing director Raleigh Finlayson. Photo: courtesy of: Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited.