JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Gold miner Kirkland Lake has set its sights on producing one-million ounces a year in the next five to seven years, a target which is built on transforming the Fosterville and Macassa mines into 400 000 oz/y producers.
At Fosterville, in Australia’s state of Victoria, Kirkland Lake is aiming to achieve the 400 000 oz/y target by 2020, as it moves to full production at the Swan zone and starts production from additional mining fronts.
The path to 400 000 oz/y at the Macassa mine, in Ontario, Canada, will take longer and will involve sinking a new $320-million shaft in two phases.
The new 21.5-ft-diameter, concrete-lined shaft would benefit Macassa in many ways. “It will derisk the operation, support more effective underground exploration, and improve working conditions, in addition to increasing production and lowering costs,” president and CEO Tony Makuch said in a news release on Wednesday.
The new four-compartment shaft will have a total hoisting capacity of 4 000 t/d of ore and waste.
Construction will be completed in two phases, the first of which will be to a depth of 5 450 ft and includes a mid-shaft loading pocket. Completion of the first phase, at a capital cost of $240-million, is targeted for the second quarter of 2022.
Phase 2 will commence once production starts from Phase 1 and involves extending the shaft to an ultimate depth of about 7 000 ft. This phase will be completed at the end of 2023 at a capital cost of about $80-million.
Kirkland Lake has grown its production by 10% in 2017, to 596 405 oz and has announced a guidance of 620 000 oz for 2018.
Production at the Canadian operations will increase. Macassa, which produced 194 237 oz in 2017, is forecast to produce between 215 000 oz and 225 000 oz. The Taylor operation will increase its output from 50 764 oz in 2017, to between 60 000 oz and 70 000 oz this year. The Holt mine’s production is expected to be at a similar level to the 66 677 oz produced in 2017.
The guidance for the Fosterville mine is to produce between 260 000 oz and 300 000 oz, from 263 845 oz produced in 2017. The company explained that the wide target range for production at the mine reflected the potential for production growth to be achieved in the event that the mine continued to benefit from positive grade reconciliations, as was the case throughout much of 2017.
In support of its growth plans, Kirkland Lake will increase its commitment to exploration this year, with a focus on Australia.
At Fosterville, the group is planning an extensive exploration programme aimed at continuing to grow the Swan zone, expanding Harrier South, extending the Lower Phoenix and Robbin’s Hill mineralisation and investigating a number of other regional targets.
“We will also be completing significant exploration work in the Northern Territory of Australia, where we will be developing into, and drilling, the Lantern deposit at the Cosmo mine, and drilling several additional high-potential targets in the region,” Makuch said.
In Canada, exploration drilling will be mainly focused on continuing to extend the South mine complex at Macassa and expanding gold mineralisation at Taylor.