Asanko Gold Inc. is pleased to announce that commercial production has been declared at Phase 1 of the Asanko Gold Mine, located in Ghana, West Africa, effective April 1, 2016, a quarter ahead of schedule.
Gold production will continue to ramp-up during Q2 2016 as the mining operations access the main ore body in the Nkran pit. Steady-state operations are expected by the end of Q2 2016.
During March 2016, the processing facility processed 276,146 tonnes (8,908tpd (tonnes per day)) which is 111% of design capacity. The Phase 1 project construction is now essentially complete, ahead of schedule and within budget, with all ancillary infrastructure, such as workshops & warehouses installed and operational.
As at March 31, 2016, a total of 15,337 ounces of gold and 2,860 ounces of silver have been produced and shipped. 8,710 ounces have been sold at an average price of US$1,211 per ounce for sales of US$10.6 million. In addition to this, approximately 6,200 ounces of gold have been locked-up in the processing circuit.
Commenting on the performance to date, Peter Breese, President and CEO, said: "The ramp-up to steady-state production levels is progressing well and reaching commercial production a full quarter ahead of our original schedule is a fantastic achievement by our team. The milling circuit achieved design feed rates and target grind size within weeks of being commissioned. Since then, the milling rates have continued to improve as has gold recovery, both of which are exceeding design parameters by some margin.
The stripping of waste at the Nkran pit continues to advance as the pit is being opened up to expose the main zones of mineralization. 2016 will therefore be a year of two halves. The first half is focused on preparing the pit for continuous long life operations and steady-state production levels whilst the second half of 2016 will reflect the Definitive Project Plan ("DPP") run rates and grade profile."
The plant commissioning and ramp-up has been performing extremely well. The mills achieved designed grind and throughput within a few weeks of startup and are currently running at above designed levels, with the following results achieved:
- The mill processed 276,146 tonnes in March, which is 111% of design capacity;
- A best 7-day run to date of 70,710 tonnes - equivalent to 303,043tpm (tonnes per month) and two continuous days of milling in March which exceeded 11,000tpd;
- Notwithstanding higher throughputs, the mill grind of 85% passing 106 um is better than the plan of 80%;
- Power consumption in the SAG and Ball Mills are materially lower than planned which gives the plant the ability to run more material through the mills at a lower power cost per unit;
- Key reagent consumptions to date are at, or below, design parameters;
- Tailings residue grades are better than expected, with an average tails grade of 0.07g/t for March against a design of 0.15g/t, confirming the ore behaves well from a metallurgical standpoint;
- Current gold recoveries are exceeding expectations, achieving in excess of 94% over the last two weeks of March versus a design of 92.5%. Approximately 45% of gold is being recovered by gravity;
- Gold smelting and shipments are occurring on a weekly basis;
- As the mill continues to be optimized, the operations team are debottlenecking the flow sheet to stress test the mills up to 12,000tpd.