Kinross Gold is completing early-stage engineering work on a potential two-phased expansion at its Tasiast gold mine in northwest Mauritania. A feasibility study of an initial phase one expansion to increase mill throughput capacity from the current 8,000 mt/d to 12,000 mt/d is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016.
Following deferral in early 2014 of a previously studied 38,000-mt/d mill expansion, Kinross has continued to explore alternatives to realizing Tasiast’s growth potential in the current gold price environment. Based on work to date, the company believes a phased approach would have the benefit of leveraging existing mill infrastructure to optimize the current operation in the near term. At the same time, capital costs for the Phase One expansion are estimated at $290 million, sharply lower than the $1.6 billion feasibility study estimate for the previously considered 38,000-mt/d expansion.
Work to date on Phase One contemplates installation of an oversized semi-autogenous grinding mill and gyratory crusher to increase mill throughput capacity by 50%, as well as addition of three leach tanks and improvements to other components of the processing circuit. Once commissioned, the additional crushing and grinding capacity is expected to enhance processing of the harder, higher-grade ore in the Tasiast property’s West Branch zone and, by extension, to improve Tasiast’s production and operating costs.
Tasiast produced 165,339 gold equivalent oz during the first three quarters of 2015 at production costs of $1,042/oz. Under the Phase One expansion scenario, production during the first two years of operation would increase to 368,000 oz/y at estimated all-in costs of $725/oz.
Construction time for the Phase One expansion is estimated at two years.
Phase Two expansion under current planning would continue to have the potential to increase throughput capacity to as much as the previously considered 38,000 mt/d. Such an expansion would include installation of additional milling, leaching, thickening, and refining capacity.
Tasiast is an open-pit operation located approximately 300 km north Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott. Gold mineralization occurs in two parallel trends: the currently mined Piment Zone, which is continuous over a 4.5-km strike length, and the West Branch zone, with a strike length of approximately 1.5 km.
Proven and probable reserves as of year-end 2014 totaled 162 million mt at a grade of 1.77 g/mt containing 9.2 million oz of gold. The deposit is open along strike and at depth.
Kinross acquired its 100% interest in the Tasiast mine in September 2010 when it completed its acquisition of Red Back Mining Inc.