Australian gold miner Norton Gold Fields has reported an 18% increase in its indicated and inferred mineral resources estimate for the Enterprise Open Pit Project in the state of Western Australia.

Enterprise is located 38km northwest of Paddington Mill within the Ora Banda Project area near Kalgoorie.

Indicated and inferred mineral resource increased to 22.5 million tonnes at 1.69g/t Au. As a result, the company has committed a A$40m ($42m) investment to develop the Enterprise project immediately.

Norton will raise funds for the project through the previously announced $105m credit facility from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and through operations and working capital.

Norton managing director and CEO Dr Dianmin Chen noted that the Enterprise project will supply a large ore percentage to the Paddington Mill as the next base load operation for Paddington Operations.

"With a higher grade than Navajo Chief, the current base load operation, Enterprise will allow us to both increase Paddington’s gold production and reduce unit production costs," Chen observed.

Chen added that the company has commenced the feasibility study for an underground operation in Enterprise to further extend its gold production.

Following the update, the project has indicated ore reserves of 563,000oz, and is estimated to produce 110,000oz of gold a year at an assumed gold price of A$1600 an ounce.

Enterprise is expected to generate high grade base load to feed the company’s 3.3 million tonnes-per-annum Paddington Mill for five years.