Following a successful public hearing, Asante Gold Corp. has received the updated environmental and mine operating permits necessary to commence open-pit mining activities at Bibiani, Ghana’s newest mine. Open-pit mining operations have started, with a focus on delivery of ore from the Strauss and Walsh satellite pits. The No. 1 Cutback at the Main Pit has also started.
Refurbishment of mine haulage roads, safety berms, waste dumps and mining benches are advanced. First ore has been delivered to the run of mine pad, more than one month ahead of schedule.
Receipt of these permits follow an extensive process of scoping studies, presentation and detailed review of the Environmental Impact Study, public consultation and review of mine operating plans. The environmental and mine operating permits provide for all aspects of the Bibiani Mine development, including operation and expansion, realignment of the National Highway, management of water and tailings, transport and utilization of explosives, mining and processing.
“Restart of open-pit mining at Bibiani after 17 years of restructuring and development marks an exciting milestone for Ghana, for Asante and especially for the community,” President and CEO Douglas MacQuarrie said. “We thank the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency and Minerals Commission, and the chiefs and local communities for their overwhelming support and commitment to the Bibiani Mine Project and the approval of our permits.”
The company purchased the asset in late August 2021 and MacQuarrie said the company is excited to bring this high-grade Ghanaian gold mine back to production and add to the near 5 million ounces (oz) of historical production.
COO Dave Anthony said all activities and initiatives needed to bring the Bibiani Mine to production of gold in the third quarter of 2022 are on track.
PW Mining (Ghana) was selected as the mining contractor in December. Mobilization and site establishment has accelerated into February and is currently two months ahead of schedule, such that more than 75 items of heavy equipment and maintenance facilities are now at site. The full fleet for open-pit mining will eventually grow to 130 units, to enable treatment of 3 million metric tons per year (mt/y).
Process plant refurbishment is on schedule and on budget, with more than 60% of the scheduled work complete. All work activities are proceeding as planned. Principal equipment drives were taken off site in 2021, to be serviced as needed. These are now being returned to site for installation. Electrical components, instrumentation and control systems have been tested and are being upgraded as needed, to provide improved performance, relative to the original design. With the purchase and installation of an up-to-date Knelson 6G concentrator and Gekko ILR (intensive leach reactor), the gravity recovery circuit has been upgraded to “model year 2021” level of competence and automation.
The Bibiani Mine plans to produce approximately 175,000 oz of gold in its first 12 months of operation. Thereafter, the Bibiani Mine plans to produce 220,000 to 270,000 ounces every year for a minimum of seven years.
Asante is planning to initiate development of an underground mine design at the PEA level of study in the third quarter of 2022, with a view to developing an underground mine operation from 2026. This will provide significant overlap with open-pit mining operations, which are currently scheduled to proceed into 2029.