VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – TSX- and NSYE-listed miner Iamgold has made significant gains to its reserve base in 2017, lifting it 86% after accounting for depletion.
"In 2017, we were able to crystallise significant gains in reserve ounces within the company, carrying on from our great work in 2016 to advance our high potential targets through both exploration successes and improved cost performance. All of our owner-operated mines reported year-on-year increases in reserves after depletion, demonstrating the strength of our core operations," president and CEO Steve Letwin said in a news release on Tuesday.
Total compliant attributable proven and probable gold reserves increased to 14.5-million ounces at the end of 2017, from 7.8-million ounces of gold at the end of 2016. The addition of 6.7-million ounces was mainly owing to converting resources to reserves at the Côté Gold project, in Ontario, and at the Boto gold project, in eastern Senegal, following positive results from prefeasibility studies (PFSes), coupled with the previously announced reserve increase at the Rosebel gold mine, in Suriname.
These increases were partially offset by depletion during the year, given the company's attributable gold output of 882 000 oz. There was no change in the $1 200/oz gold price assumption for estimating the reserves at the company's owned and operated mines.
Total attributable measured and indicated gold resources, which include the reserves, increased by 6%, or 1.4-million ounces, to 24.7-million ounces of gold at the end of 2017.
Further, total attributable inferred gold resources increased by 44%, or 2.7-million ounces, to 8.8-million ounces of gold at the end of 2017. There were also no changes in the valuation assumptions for estimating mineral resources at Essakane and Rosebel, which is pegged at $1 500/oz of gold, or at Westwood, which is at $1 200/oz of gold using a 6 g/t gold cutoff over a minimum width of 2 m, the company advised.
Completing PFSes at Côté and Boto has allowed Iamgold to declare initial reserves for both projects, setting up Iamgold with a growing, long-life production profile at a time when many are struggling with reserve life, Letwin said.
"Even taking into account the sale of 30% of the large resource at Côté Gold to Sumitomo Metal Mining in June 2017, we have demonstrated net gains in both measured and indicated resources and inferred resources. The maiden resource declaration for Saramacca is a strong start for Rosebel's transformation," he noted.
The company has set out to achieve an ambitious set of catalysts this year. It will focus on drilling to expand Saramacca and will work to incorporate the existing and new resources into a consolidated life-of-mine plan for Rosebel and Saramacca, which will allow the company to declare an initial reserve estimate for Saramacca in the second half of this year.
Meanwhile, Iamgold is busy drilling at the Côté mine as part of a feasibility study, which is expected to not only improve confidence in the existing reserves, but is also expected to allow it to upgrade inferred material to a higher resource category and, ultimately, support conversion into reserves.
The completion of the heap leach PFS for Essakane in the second quarter is expected to result in the declaration of new heap leach reserves, as well as increases in the carbon-in-leach reserves and resources through the justification of a further pit pushback.
Essakane is also working on declaring a maiden resource estimate for the Gossey satellite deposit later this year. Iamgold will drill another 110 km at Westwood, with the ongoing objective to expand its planning reserves by converting inferred resources.
Further, an updated resource estimate is planned for Diakha-Siribaya, in Mali, and maiden resource estimates have been started in 2018 for Monster Lake and Nelligan, in Quebec, and Eastern Borosi, in Nicaragua.