By Hilary Mare
THE Otjikoto Mine is projected to process 3.3 million tonnes of ore in 2017, with an average grade of 1.59 g/t and recovery of 98 percent, the company has announced.
Mill feed is expected to consist of high grade ore from the Otjikoto Phase 2 pit (35 percent) and Wolfshag Phase 1 pit (25 percent). High and medium grade stockpile ore is expected to account for the remainder of the mill feed (40 percent), as the Otjikoto Phase 2 pit is developed.
“Life-of-mine production plans for the Otjikoto Mine, incorporating preliminary projections for the Wolfshag open pit and underground mines, have been completed for various options and will be further refined as the detailed geotechnical, hydrogeological, and design studies are completed in 2017. On-going studies are leading the company to re-evaluate the open pit and underground interface, Clive Johnson, president and CEO of the mine said.
The Otjikoto Mine is forecast to produce between 165 000 and 175 000 ounces of gold in 2017, compared to 166 285 ounces produced in 2016. Cash operating costs are expected to be between US$510 and US$550 per ounce. The expected cost increase over 2016 is mainly due to higher projected strip ratios at the new Otjikoto Phase 2 pit and Wolfshag Phase 1 pit. In addition, fuel prices are also projected to be higher than 2016. The average strip ratios at Otjikoto are expected to decrease in 2018 and 2019. AISC are expected to be between US$855 and US$885 per ounce in 2017, reflecting higher expected cash operating costs per ounce and capital expenditures.
The Otjikoto Mine in Namibia also had a record year in 2016, producing an annual record 166 285 ounces of gold, above the mid-point of its production guidance range (of 160 000 to 170 000 ounces) and 14 percent (or 20 562 ounces) higher than 2015 (including 18 815 ounces of pre-commercial production from Otjikoto). Otjikoto’s 2016 production benefitted from higher throughput due to the successful completion of its mill expansion project in September 2015 (which increased plant capacity from 2.5 million tonnes per annum to 3.0 million tonnes per annum) and also due to overall process optimisations. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Otjikoto Mine produced a quarterly record 46 846 ounces of gold, slightly above budget and 19 percent (or 7 472 ounces) higher than the fourth quarter of 2015.
For 2017, sustaining capital costs at the Otjikoto Mine are estimated to be US$37.1 million, including US$15 million for capitalised pre-stripping costs, US$10.4 mil l i on for mine fleet additions, a n d US$6 million for major equipment rebuilds. The company expects US$10 million of the Otjikoto mine fleet expansion purchases to be lease financed.
“To advance stripping at both the Otjikoto and Wolfshag pits the mining fleet will be increased by an additional 250-tonne excavator along with additional haul trucks and support equipment. Non-sustaining capital costs are budgeted to be $12.7 million which includes $8.5 million for phase one of the construction of a solar power plant. The solar power plant is expected to reduce fuel consumption and protect against rising oil prices,” Johnson added.
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