Mineral Deposits Ltd. announced in late January 2010 plans to double milling capacity at its Sabodala gold operations in south-eastern Senegal to approximately 4 million mt/y, increasing gold production to 200,000 oz/y. Detailed engineering, delivery of long-lead-time equipment items, and construction are expected to take about 15 months. Pit life based on existing reserves will be reduced from 11 to seven years. The expansion will be undertaken in two phases, with the first phase scheduled to lift production to 3.5 million mt/y by mid-2011.

Sabodala poured its first gold in March 2009 (E&MJ, June 2009, p. 20) and produced 162,500 oz through December 31, 2009, marginally exceeding targeted production of 160,000 oz for the year. Cash costs averaged $413/oz. The project is owned 90% by Mineral Deposits and 10% by the government of Senegal.

The original Sabodala plant was designed and constructed with future expansion in mind, so some key infrastructure, such as the 30-MW power plant, already have the capacity to handle the planned increase in plant throughput. Estimated total capital cost for the expansion is $80 million, including $60 million for the processing plant and associated infrastructure and $20 million for additional mining equipment. The first phase of the expansion is budgeted at $55 million.

First-phase plant additions will include a second ball mill and associated pumps and cyclones; three new leach tanks and agitators; and an additional tailing thickener. The installation of a new gyratory primary crusher and reclaim system will be carried out as a second phase of the expansion, approximately a year after completion of the first phase.