Kinross Gold announced on February 10 that it will not proceed at this time with a major expansion of its Tasiast gold operations in Mauritania. “The current gold price environment does not provide the company with sufficient confidence that it will be able to maintain balance sheet strength while financing the expansion during the three-year construction period,” the announcement said.

Kinross will continue to assess market conditions, with a view to reconsider the expansion should gold prices improve. In addition, the company will continue to focus on reducing Tasiast operating costs.

Tasiast produced 260,485 oz of gold during 2014. The mine is an open-pit operation located in northwest Mauritania, approximately 300 km north of Nouakchott, the capital city. High-grade ore processing is based on three-stage crushing, ball milling and a carbon-in-leach circuit. Lower-grade oxide ore is processed in a run-of-mine heap-leach facility.

In March 2014, Kinross announced the results of a feasibility study for a project to expand Tasiast plant throughput to 38,000 mt/d, replacing the current 8,000-mt/d mill. The study included a 3.1-million-oz increase in Tasiast’s estimated mineral reserves to 9.6 million oz. Initial capital expenditure for the expansion was estimated at approximately $1.6 billion.

The proposed mill would have consisted of a primary crusher, a SAG and ball mill grinding circuit, and a conventional carbon-in-leach (CIL) circuit. Overall CIL grades were expected to average 2.09 g/mt for the first five years of expanded production and 1.76 g/mt over the life of the mine.