Asanko Gold reported that Phase 1 of its Asanko gold mine project in Ghana is on track to pour its first gold in early 2016. As of mid-September, procurement for the project was complete, and the project was on budget, with $180 million of the planned $295 million capital cost spent.

The project is wholly owned by Asanko, with a 10% free carried interest held by the government of Ghana that becomes effective once commercial production is achieved. Reserves total 2.5 million oz at a grade of 2.15 grams per meteric ton (g/mt) gold. Total production is planned at 2.3 million oz over a 12.4-year mine life. Annual production is planned at 190,000 oz/y at steady state.

Phase 1 of the Asanko mine includes the Nkran pit and four satellite deposits. Mining is contracted. Production will begin at the Nkran pit, which comprises 85% of the Phase 1 ore reserves. Mining is by conventional truck and shovel methods. The life-of-mine average operating strip ratio is 4.7:1.

Pre-stripping continues to advance according to schedule. Hard rock was reached in August, when drill and blast operations began. Mining operations were running at planned production levels of 80,000 to 90,000 mt/d, in line with the steady-state life-of-mine plan. Asanko plans to have more than 400,000 mt of ore at reserve grade on the stockpiles prior to the start of milling operations.

Processing is based on a 3-million-mt/y carbon-in-leach plant. Installation of the primary crusher is complete. In the milling section, the shells for the SAG and ball mills have been installed. The SAG-mill discharge sump is in place, as are the vibrating screens. Mechanical installation of the gravity circuit and hydrocyclones was scheduled to begin before the end of September.

In the carbon-in-leach circuit, all seven tanks are fully erected, and interconnecting steel and platework are in place. The mechanical installation of the agitators and inter-stage carbon screens has begun. Welding and platework on the pre-leach thickener is complete, and the thickener has been internally sandblasted and painted.

In June, Asanko signed a life-of-mine, fixed-priced power purchase agreement with independent power producer Genser Energy Ghana Ltd. for the supply of 17 MW to Phase 1 operations. Earthworks for Genser’s liquid fuel power plant, adjacent to the project site, have begun, and commissioning of the power plant is targeted for April 2016.

Until the main power plant is operational, Genser will provide temporary power to Phase 1 via five 5-MW, semimobile, liquid natural gas fired generator units. All necessary permits have been obtained for the temporary power generators, and power is expected to be available in November, ahead of commissioning and startup activity.

Nkran village has been partially relocated, and a formal handover ceremony was held on September 15. The project offers a substantial improvement in the villagers’ quality of life, with all houses fitted with kitchen and bathroom facilities, electricity, and potable water. There is also street lighting, a water storage facility, and an integrated waste management system. A community center, school and football field are being built. All of the relocated properties were built by Ghanaians from the region, adding considerable value to the communities impacted by the mine.