Independence Group (IGO) has released a pre-feasibility study (PFS) that has confirmed the technical and financial viability of underground mining at the Tropicana gold mine in Western Australia.

The PFS was conducted to determine the feasibility of the development of an underground mine beneath the Boston Shaker pits at Tropicana.

According to the study, the development of the underground mining project is expected to yield 100,000oz per annum over around seven years.

The project development cost is anticipated to be around A$95m ($68.13m).

IGO intends to align the underground operation with the open pit design and schedule, capitalising on process plant improvements delivered last month through the commissioning of the second ball mill.

Independence Group managing director Peter Bradford said: “The Pre-Feasibility Study demonstrates the potential viability of underground mining beneath the Boston Shaker open pits that integrates with the existing open pit life-of-mine.

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“The partners will now advance a feasibility study that is scheduled for completion in the second half of FY 2019.”

“Delivery of Boston Shaker underground will result in an improved grade and gold production profile from Tropicana from fiscal year (FY) 2021.

“The results are extremely encouraging, and we look forward to completing the feasibility study and potentially starting another exciting chapter at Tropicana.”

The company owns a 30% interest in the Tropicana project. AngloGold Ashanti Australia holds the remaining 70% stake and manages the project.

The partners will now advance a feasibility study (FS) that is scheduled for completion in the second half of FY 2019.

As part of the FS, further drilling will be undertaken to define ore reserves.

IGO expects to begin the initial portal development from within the completed Tropicana pit by mid-next year.

Full production levels are expected to be achieved in 2021 and mining of the last stopes is planned for 2026.