Canada’s Iamgold Corp. announced it plans to sell its 95% interest in Rosebel Gold Mines N.V. (RGM) to China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. for a $360 million cash consideration and the release of Iamgold’s equipment lease liabilities amounting to approximately $41 million. RGM holds a 100% interest in the Rosebel gold mine and a 70% participating interest in the Saramacca mine, both of which are located in Suriname. The Government of Suriname holds the other 5% interest in the Rosebel Gold Mines. The existing royalty on Rosebel gold mine held by Euro Ressources S.A. will remain an obligation for Iamgold.

Rosebel was expected to produce 155,000 to 180,000 oz of gold in 2022. In 2021, the operation achieved 154,000 oz. The Rosebel mill has been dealing with maintenance issues and the operation has been working with the government to secure the property from illegal mining operations. During the second quarter, the mill processed 2.2 million metric tons (mt), 5% lower than the previous quarter, at an average head grade of 0.88 g/mt.

According to the life of mine plan published by Iamgold in February 2022, the operational mine life of the Rosebel gold mine is 12 years (2022 to 2033), and the average output is 277,000 oz/y (about 8.6 mt/y) of gold, with a total forecast production of 3.327 million oz of gold (about 103.5 mt). Among these, between 2024 and 2032, the average production of gold will be 312,000 oz/y (about 9.7 mt/y).

The all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for the Rosebel gold mine from 2017 to 2019 were $931/oz, $1,006/oz and $1,165/oz respectively. Due to a number of factors including lower production volumes as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, higher stripping and other capital expenditures and rising prices of raw materials, the unit cost of the project has been on an upward trend since 2020. The AISC for 2020, 2021 and the first half of 2022 were $1,224/oz, $1,859/oz, and $1,832 /oz, respectively.

Zijin said it believes that the Rosebel gold mine has room for improvement in mining, mainly including the implementation of selective mining to reduce dilution, a more reasonable allocation of haul trucks and workflow, using more suitable equipment, optimization of parts procurement plans, discharge of waste rock from mining pits and other measures, which can effectively reduce the costs of mining and stripping. With the increase in the mining, stripping and processing scale in the future, Zijin expects the unit costs for the operation to decrease.