Officials at Canadian major Kinross Gold Corp. have released pre-feasibility results that allow their Tasiast operation in northwest Mauritania to expand to a rate of 38,000 metric tons per day (mt/d). By constructing and powering a 30,000-mt/d mill with heavy fuel oil, the survey assumed a $1,500/oz price consistent with year-end mineral reserve estimates. The study also included a $1,200/oz price for pit design along with pit design mineral resource estimates of some 10 million recovered gold oz.

The study determined that during the first five years of production, a 30,000 mt/d mill would have average production of 830,000 annual oz with cash costs approximately $500/oz, and average all-in sustaining costs of approximately $735/oz.

Kinross company officials were upbeat in their outlook. “As we continue to evaluate the project, we remain focused on preserving the strength of our balance sheet,” said CEO J. Paul Rollinson. “The results of the pre-feasibility study are encouraging.”

Kinross took 100% control of Tasiast in Q3 2010 on acquiring Red Back Mining Inc. The open-pit mine lies 300 km northwest of Nouakchott, the capital of the Sahel nation. The mine, operating since 2008, is within an extensive, underexplored system with dual mineralization trends, according to Kinross officials. These include high grade ore and low grade oxide ore processing.

The feasibility process, beginning immediately, is expected for Q1 2014 completion. A final decision will rest on factors ranging from gold price assumptions and projections to expected economic returns to a variety of technical considerations. The next step will assess construction of a carbon-in-leach circuit with a primary crusher and SAG mill, complementing existing dump leach facilities.