Asanko Gold began commissioning Phase 1 of its Asanko gold mine in southwest Ghana in December, with expectations that first gold would be produced in January. The project is designed to produce 190,000 ounces per year (oz/y) of gold over a period of 12 years at steady-state operations. Capital expenditures to complete the project were within the budgeted $295 million, according to the company.

Mining operations were performing according to plan, with approximately 290,000 metric tons (mt) of ore on the stockpile. The majority of this ore was mined from inferred resources encountered during pre-stripping and was not part of the definitive project plan. Reserves were being opened up in the Nkran pit as the pre-strip neared completion. The grade control model was comparing well with the mineral resource estimate.

Ore is processed through a conventional 3-million-mt/y gravity and carbon-in-leach plant. Plant feed rates and gold recoveries are expected to ramp-up to steady-state levels over the first three months of operations, with commercial production targeted during the second quarter of 2016.

The Asanko project is currently wholly owned by Asanko, with a 10% free carried interest held by the government of Ghana that becomes effective once commercial production is achieved. Reserves total 2.5 million oz at a grade of 2.15 g/mt gold. Total production is planned at 2.3 million oz over a 12.4-year mine life.

Phase 1 of the Asanko mine includes the Nkran pit and four satellite deposits. Mining is contracted. Production is beginning at the Nkran pit, which comprises 85% of the Phase 1 ore reserves. Mining is by conventional truck and shovel methods.

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