Kinross Gold Corp. has announced feasibility results nearly doubling current mineral reserve estimates at its Tasiast project in Mauritania to 9.6 million oz from 3.1 million oz. Using pit design increases, according to company officials, an expansion would reduce capital costs to $1.6 billion.

With an expected 2018 startup, Tasiast forecasts returning a 2020 profit, said the study, which tallied $2.5 billion in cash flow over the mine’s life. The new facility would consist of a primary crusher, a SAG and ball mill grinding circuit, and a standard carbon-in-leach (CIL) circuit, said Canadian-based Kinross representatives.

A final decision, centered on prices, is pending for 2015, said officials. Before then, they added, Kinross will explore identifying further optimization, lowering of costs and financing choices amid ongoing negotiations with the Mauritanian government; infrastructure, permitting and concession rights are already in place.

CEO J. Paul Rollinson spoke of “meaningful” growth. “An expanded Tasiast would be our largest mine as a cornerstone of our portfolio,” he said; the expansion is forecast to generate $600 million in payments to Mauritania’s government via taxes and royalties.

By 2019, existing dump leach facilities would be phased out under the plan but available for future lower grade ore if economically viable — or upon any new nearby discoveries. The new mill would produce 848,000 gold oz annually through then, with 9 million produced oz by 2029.

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