Kinross Gold announced in late March that it is proceeding with Phase One of an expansion of its open-pit Tasiast operations in northwest Mauritania. Tasiast processes ore by milling, which accounts for 70% to 80% of production, and dump leaching. The Phase One expansion will increase mill throughput capacity from the current 8,000 metric tons per day (mt/) to 12,000 mt/d. Preparations are under way to add incremental crushing and grinding capacity to the existing carbon-in-leach circuit, which includes an oversized SAG mill and gyratory crusher.

LD Tasiast At Night

Kinross expects the Tasiast Phase One expansion to reach full production by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Gold production from 2019 to 2027 is planned to average 409,000 ounces per year (oz/y) at all-in sustaining costs of $760/oz. Mill grades during this period are expected to average 3.1 g/mt. Milling of residual stockpiled ore will extend the estimated mine life to 2033.

Tasiast produced 219,000 oz of gold in 2015.

Capital expenditures to complete the Phase One expansion are estimated at $300 million, plus estimated stripping costs of $428 million. Engineering work for the expansion was 35% complete as of late March and is expected to be 80% complete by the end of July. Kinross plans to begin full field construction during the third quarter of 2016, with commissioning scheduled to begin during the fourth quarter of 2017.

Kinross also released details of a prefeasibility study of a potential combined Phase One and Phase Two expansion at Tasiast based on installing additional mill throughput capacity of 18,000 mt/d for a total combined capacity of 30,000 mt/d. This potential expansion contemplates replacing the two current ball mills with a new, larger ball mill; adding incremental power generation to the existing 20-MW heavy fuel oil power plant and additional leaching and thickening capacity; upgrading the water supply infrastructure; and expanding the mine fleet.

Kinross expects to initiate a feasibility study of Tasiast Phase Two in the second half of 2016, with a potential go-ahead decision targeted for the end of 2017 and construction to begin in early 2018. Based on this timeline, Phase Two could reach full production in early 2020, lifting Tasiast production to 777,000 oz/y of gold from 2020 through 2026.

Commenting on the start of work on Tasiast Phase One, Kinross President and CEO J. Paul Rollinson said, “This phased approach allows Kinross to transform Tasiast into a lower-cost, cash-flow-positive operation in the near term, while preserving the operation’s significant growth potential. The expansion is forecast to reduce Tasiast’s production cost of sales per ounce by an estimated 48%, while increasing annual production by an estimated 87% compared with 2015.”

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