East Africa-focused gold producer, developer and explorer Shanta Gold reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of $19-million for the 2021 financial year, compared with Ebitda of $63.9-million reported for 2020.
Shanta owns the New Luika gold mine (NLGM) and the Singida project, in Tanzania, as well as the West Kenya project, in Kenya.
The miner produced a record yearly throughput of 834 607 t milled – about 7% greater than budget, following installation of Mill No 3 in the first half of 2021.
Total gold production of 55 280 oz was in line with revised guidance, while its average recoveries of 89.7% were the same as in 2020.
Shanta’s revenue decreased from $147.4-million in 2020 to $103.6-million in 2021, while gross profit slipped from $56.7-million to $26-million.
For 2021, all Shanta’s gold sales were unhedged and completed at spot price, with an average selling price of $1 801/oz, compared with the average of $1 495/oz in 2020.
Shanta’s gross debt reduced to $2.4-million following the repayment of a $10-million convertible loan note in April 2021.
Adjusted operating cash costs for the miner in 2021 were $1 081/oz, while its all-in sustaining costs (AISC) were $1 439/oz, which the miner says are in line with revised guidance.
Shanta declared a maiden dividend that was paid in April 2021, and an interim dividend that was paid in October 2021 – totalling about $2.8-million.
In terms of safety, the miner achieved a total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) of 0.67 and had zero lost-time injuries (LTIs) in 2021. This compares with the 2020 TRIFR of 0.97 and zero LTIs.
CEO Eric Zurrin says Shanta’s “exceptional” safety record and stable financial performance provide a platform from which the company is now able to grow substantially, on a clear path to becoming a more than 100 000 oz/y producer by early 2023.
The West Kenya project continued to deliver encouraging assay results, with an initial conversion of more than 100% of inferred resources to indicated resources of 117 600 oz grading at 7.04 g/t.
Construction of Singida remains on track for first production in the first quarter of 2023, adding a second revenue stream across the portfolio and strengthening Shanta’s diversified portfolio of assets in East Africa.
In 2021, the miner also extended the current reserve life at NLGM to the end of 2026, following successful exploration drilling programmes carried out throughout the year, with new discoveries at the Porcupine South deposit to add further life to NLGM once incorporated into the mine plan this year.
Also in 2021, Shanta completed a strategic review of its sustainability strategy with its inaugural sustainability report due to be published before the end of June.
For this year, Shanta has set its production guidance at between 68 000 oz and 76 000 oz, with an AISC of between $1 050/oz and $1 250/oz.
This year’s gold production is weighted 65% towards the second half, reflecting mining of the high-grade Bauhinia Creek crown pillar which started in April. The crown pillar consists of about 83 000 t, grading 8.4 g/t and containing about 22 500 oz of gold.
“Following several very positive drilling results during the year, we have updated the mine life at NLGM to 2026 and the encouraging start we have made in the new financial year with the start of high-grade mining at the Bauhinia Creek Crown Pillar means our 2022 guidance is now significantly derisked,” Zurrin says.
Further, he says Singida remains on course to come into production during early 2023, on budget and on schedule, bolstering Shanta’s output and diversifying its portfolio in East Africa beyond NLGM.
“At the same time, the highly exciting high-grade West Kenya project has seen some phenomenal high-grade drilling results during the year and we were delighted to announce a 31% increase in the mineral resource estimate at West Kenya to 1.55-million ounces just after the year-end.”
Zurrin adds that, with the release of its inaugural sustainability report, Shanta’s dedication to operating and collaborating in a responsible manner is central to its culture and corporate purpose.
“We will be looking to proactively build on this disclosure in 2022 and beyond.”