Kinross Gold, Tasiast, SAG mill

The fire on June 15 at the trommel screen of the SAG mill temporarily suspends operations at the Tasiast mine. (Photo: Kinross)

Kinross Gold Corp. has restarted mining activities and construction work at the Tasiast mine in Mauritania after a fire on June 15. However, milling activities are still suspended. Kinross confirmed there were no injuries as a result of the fire.

Construction work on the Tasiast 24k expansion project has also resumed and the company said it is evaluating opportunities to optimize the project while milling operations are suspended.

The company is investigating the condition of the mill shell, discharge bearing and the mill’s gearless motor drive to determine the time and cost required to restart the mill. Preliminary estimates indicate a restart of the SAG mill by year-end, with expected restart costs of up to $50 million. With mining activities continuing at Tasiast, Kinross expects to process stockpiles of higher-grade ore when the mill restarts.

“Although this unfortunate incident is expected to impact our annual production guidance, our financial position and longer-term outlook remain very strong,” President and CEO J. Paul Rollinson said.

The company also revised its 2021 production guidance to 2.1 million Au eq. oz. compared to the previous announced guidance of 2.4 million Au eq. oz.

In 2022 and 2023, Kinross continues to expect annual production to increase to approximately 2.7 million Au eq. oz. and 2.9 million Au eq. oz., respectively.

The fire began at approximately 11 p.m. local time on June 15 at the trommel screen of the SAG mill. At the time the fire began, the SAG mill was shut down and undergoing scheduled maintenance, including welding. The fire was mainly limited to the discharge area of the SAG mill. The ball mills, leaching areas, primary crusher, stockpile and the rest of the processing circuit and other infrastructure were not affected.

“All of our people are safe and accounted for at Tasiast, which is our most important priority,” Rollinson said. “Our site team responded quickly to the fire, which limited the main impacts to the mill discharge area.”

The company said it does not anticipate the fire will affect Tasiast’s life of mine production and mineral reserve estimates or have a material impact on the mine’s overall value.

Based on the initial estimate of the mill’s downtime and with ongoing work on the 24k project, Tasiast’s throughput capacity is now expected to reach 21,000 metric tons per day (mt/d) during Q1 2022, compared with the previous estimate of year-end 2021. Throughput capacity is expected to increase to 24,000 mt/d by mid-2023, which is unchanged from the original 24k project estimate.