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environment|exploration|gold|power|project|resources|testing|equipment|drilling

Centamin delivers on 2023 guidance, progresses exploration efforts

18th January 2024

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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London- and Toronto-listed gold miner Centamin delivered a solid performance in 2023, producing 450 058 oz and delivering on its yearly guidance for a third year.

Centamin has set its production guidance for this year at between 470 000 oz and 500 000 oz as its flagship Sukari mine, in Egypt, continues to improve output against the backdrop of a strong gold price environment.

The company recently completed an updated life-of-mine plan for Sukari, which involves increased gold production, lower operational costs, reduced operational risk and significantly reduced carbon emissions.

Centamin reports that it will continue to define and convert resources to reserves at the Sukari mine, explore other prospects in Egypt’s Arabian Nubian Shield and progress towards a final investment decision for the Doropo project, in Côte d'Ivoire.

In the year under review, Centamin declared a maiden reserve at Doropo of 1.9-million ounces.

CEO Martin Horgan confirms that the company will publish a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on the project in mid-2024.

Meanwhile, Centamin’s revenue for the year amounted to $893-million, generated from gold sales of 456 625 oz at an average realised gold price of $1 948/oz.

The company’s average cash cost remained within its guided range at $895/oz for the year, while all-in sustaining costs were delivered lower than guided at $1 220/oz, beating the bottom end of guidance by $30/oz.

Centamin spent less than it anticipated on its capital expenditure programme at $202-million, against a guided figure of $272-million, owing to changes to the company’s equipment rebuilt schedule, the deferral of a grid power project deposit payment to this year and lower-than-expected capitalisation of operating costs.

The company also managed to save on costs owing to lower diesel prices in the year.

EXPANSION PROSPECTS

Centamin was awarded an exploration licence covering 3 000 km2 in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, which the company refers to as the EDX blocks.

The blocks are adjacent to the Sukari mine and have not historically been explored using modern exploration methods.

Horgan points out that an exciting work programme has been budgeted for 2024, which includes the delineation of potential resources and further drill targets in Egypt as part of its growth strategy.

For this year, the budgeted group exploration spend has been set at $23-million, including $14-million to complete the Doropo DFS and $9-million for exploration on the EDX blocks.

Centamin completed a 16 216 m reverse circulation (RC) maiden drill programme across eight targets on the Nugrus block, which forms part of the EDX blocks.

This work will be followed up with detailed geological mapping and ground geophysical surveys in the first half of the year.

Up to 15 000 m of RC and diamond core drilling are planned at the Little Sukari and Umm Majal targets this year, as well as a conceptual resource estimate and optimisation study to steer ongoing drilling.

Horgan says the drill programme may be expanded to include first pass drill testing of potential new Nugrus targets generated through ongoing exploration fieldwork.

More work on the Um Rus and Najd blocks is under way, including soil geochemistry, rock chip sampling and geological mapping with the objective of identifying new drill targets.

Horgan tells Mining Weekly that ideally the company would want to integrate satellite deposits around Sukari into its existing infrastructure to keep capital costs down, however, if the more remote targets show high potential for a certain scale and quality, Centamin will pursue standalone development opportunities accordingly.

He commends the Egyptian government for making the country an easier jurisdiction to operate in, as well as one with the necessary established infrastructure, service providers and a pipeline of skills. Similarly, in Côte d'Ivoire, Horgan says a number of mines have been successfully developed over the last decade with no issues. Both regions have a willingness to grow their mining industries, which helps projects to come on line quicker.

BIGGEST PRIORITIES

Responding to what Centamin's foremost priorities are for the year, Horgan highlights the connection of the Sukari mine to the national grid, following years of mostly diesel generation having been used to power the mine.

Centamin has since installed a 36 MW solar farm on site, which has helped to save $18-million a year in operating costs and 60 000 t of carbon emissions.

The $45-million capital project of connecting the mine to the grid is the company's most expensive endeavour at the moment. Centamin ultimately aims to garner all its power requirements from solar during the daylight hours and from the national grid at nighttime.

Horgan also wishes to continue with the company's solid safety performance, boost production closer to 500 000 oz/y, achieve more reserve growth for the Sukari mine and demonstrate value accretive potential on the EDX blocks.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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