The West

The collapse of Navigator Resources has put another 200 gold miners out of work, with administrators Pitcher Partners mothballing its struggling gold mine late last week.

It is understood about 170 Navigator employees were laid off last Friday with a smaller number of contractors after the historic Bronzewing operations were sent into care and maintenance.

Pitcher Partners administrator Bryan Hughes told workers on Friday that all mining operations would cease immediately, but the Bronzewing mill would continue to run for about a week until its ore stockpile had run down.

Mr Hughes was called in last Thursday after Navigator's major shareholder, British-based Au Mining, withdrew from negotiations aimed at extending a $17.5 million credit line and underwriting another capital raising.

Au Mining, the private company of English property mogul Graham Edwards, emerged from a $12 million capital raising late last year holding 68.9 per cent of Navigator shares, but is understood to have baulked at committing more money to the troubled producer.

Despite a new fleet and a re-jig to the mine plan, Navigator's attempts to turn its fortunes around were crippled by a crusher failure this year, which the company said would significantly extend its $3 million losses in the December quarter.

When administrators took control last Thursday, Navigator owed at least $17.5 million to Au Mining and a further $12 million to secured lender Waterton Global Value.

Aside from the jobs lost from its mostly fly-in fly-out workforce, it is understood the broader damage from Navigator's collapse will be minimal, with sources saying the company was up to date with payments to staff and trade creditors.

It is estimated Navigator owed trade creditors about $10 million when Pitcher Partners was called in.

The Bronzewing discovery made prospector Mark Creasy his fortune when he famously sold the mine to Joseph Gutnick's Great Central Mines in a package worth $173 million.

Navigator bought the project from the wreckage of View Resources, which collapsed in 2008, and returned the mine to production almost three years ago.

Navigator last traded in mid- February, when it called a trading halt to try to negotiate a funding package and before a March 7 vote on a share consolidation. Its shares last closed at 0.1¢.

The West Australian

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