St Barbara Mines said its King of the Hills gold project near Leonora in Western Australia has been granted approval for development.

Production from the mine is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2011 and is planned at a rate of 65,000oz per annum over 3.5 years following a 12-month ramp up period.

The project has probable ore reserves of 1.4 million tons at 4.3g/t for 195,000oz of gold and is estimated to produce in the target range of 1.9-2.0Mt at 4.0-4.5g/t containing 240,000-270,000oz of gold.

St Barbara said King of the Hills gold mineralisation can be extended within the mine vicinity and at depth, plunging north along the intersection of the regional shear zone and granite surface.

The expanded Leonora Operations, including Gwalia and the King of the Hills mines, is expected to yield an annual production of 255,000-275,000oz of gold.