Setbacks at Simberi gold mine PNG

Poor mining performance and delays to ramping up the new processing circuit have been cited as reasons for a modest March quarter at Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

Gold production for the March quarter is only 11,000 ounces, with the annual production for the FY2014 tipped to lie between 45,000 and 50,000 ounces, and it is forecast that Simberi will be cash positive by the end of December 2014.

At present a review is being undertaken by CEO Tim Lehany and general manager Tim Richards, who have said that the technical issues at Simberi are well understood and a corrective program of work is underway with only minimal additional capital required.

“The delay at Simberi is very disappointing, but the ramp up to 3.5 Mtpa will be achieved,” Lehany said.

“The substantial capital spend is behind us at Simberi and, once this rectification work is completed, I am confident that Simberi will be a valuable long-term asset.”

The annual production rate by March 2015 is pegged at 90,000 to 100,000 ounces, although the operating cost for 2014 is expected to be around $1850 to 1950 per ounce.

To increase fleet reliability, used haul trucks with low hours are being procured, with three trucks having arrived at the mine this week, and another nine approved for purchase at a total investment of $2 million.

Work is still needed to relieve bottlenecking and optimise the recently completed processing plant expansion, which is designed to lift ore processing capacity from 2 to 3.5 Mtpa.

Focus of works is on the stockpile reclaim apron feeder, the SAG mill cyclone cluster, the SAG mill trash screen and the Adsorption circuit inter-tank screens.

A strategic review of the Gold Ridge Operations continues, with a requirement for cash investment from St Barbara, with various strategic options under assessment, including a focus on improving viability by lifting the metallurgical recovery of gold from refractory ore.

Metallurgical test work is due to be completed by June 2014, to better define refractory ore processing solutions and costs.

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