TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Vancouver-based Aurizon Mines exceeded its own production guidance in 2009 from the Casa Berardi gold mine, in Quebec, but expects output will be slightly lower next year, as the firm mines lower-grade areas of the deposit.
From 2011 onwards, however, Aurizon expects to produce between 160 000 oz and 170 000 oz a year, at total cash costs of around $425/oz, as higher-grade areas are included in the mine plan.
“2010 will be a transitional year as we prepare Casa Berardi for increased production in 2011 and beyond,” said CEO David Hall.
Aurizon produced 159 261 oz last year, compared with its forecast of between 150 000 oz and 155 000 oz. Fourth quarter production came in at 36 459 oz.
During the year, the firm processed 688 676 t, at an average grade of 7,8 g/t. Recoveries averaged 92,6% for 2009.
In 2010, production from Casa Berardi is expected to be around 145 000 oz to 155 000 oz, the company said on Monday.
Average daily mine production is estimated at 2 000 t/d, which is higher than in 2009, and the company has forecast an average total cash cost of around $490/oz, assuming a Canadian/US dollar exchange rate of 1,05.
“The slight decrease in gold production for 2010 is attributable to lower average gold grades being included in the 2010 mine plan, particularly in the first part of the year,” Aurizon said.
“Definition drilling and resulting geological interpretation has caused modifications to the stope design for the Lower Inter zone, which has resulted in mining a larger mineralised envelope containing lower-grade ore.”
The company has also started work on a final feasibility study for its development project, the Joanna project, also in Quebec.
A positive prefeasibility study was completed last year, and the feasibility document should be ready in the fourth quarter of 2010, Aurizon said.
The company reiterated that it is focusing on the Abitibi area of Quebec for organic growth, while evaluating acquisition opportunities in the entire North American region, to boost its reserve and production profile.
Aurizon will publish annual and fourth-quarter results on or about March 18.