PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Gold miner St Barbara has reported an increase in gold production for the December quarter, compared with the previous three months, as the company’s plans to increase production and lower costs bore fruit.
Gold production in the three months to December reached 89 670 oz, compared with the 72 990 oz delivered in the September quarter, while all-in sustaining costs (AISC) declined from A$1 711/oz to A$1 517/oz in the same period.
Gold sales in the December quarter reached 99 000 oz, compared with the 66 000 oz sold in the September quarter, while realised gold prices improved slightly from A$2 171/oz to A$2 126/oz.
“The second quarter of 2021 was a step up from the first three months, with a steady production profile and lower AISC. The operational cash contribution of A$83-million was a strong result and reflects our improved cost profile as we deliver on Building Brilliance,” said St Barbara MD and CEO Craig Jetson.
The Building Brilliance programme was launched in the September quarter and is aimed at improving operational efficiencies and unit costs at all the St Barbara operations. The company is targeting between A$80-million and A$120-million of annualised cash contribution.
The Building Brilliance programme will include a debottlenecking of the mill at the Atlantic operation, improving the mining fleet productivity and mill recovery at the Simberi operation, and implementing spend control at all of the project areas.
The company in December also completed an internal review of the Leonora province, in Western Australia, to assess the current resource and mineral inventory base, along with the historical stockpiles.
A strategic action plan is now being developed to define options and opportunities.
The review highlighted low-grade stockpiles within the Leonora tenements, some of which were trucked and milled in December and January, and work is starting on stockpiles at Braemore Sands, and larger bulk stockpiles at Tower Hill.
Desktop assessment of an ore sorting trial is also planned to understand the potential and cost associated with upgrading the material prior to trialling a bulk sample programme.
“Our strategy provides a path to grow production more than 40% from 382 000 oz to 520 000 oz to 570 000 oz, and reduce recurring annual costs by A$45-million. This will be delivered in two uplifts. The first is to deliver Building Brilliance in operations and extend mine life. The business is already reducing costs with a dual focus on near-mine exploration and mine plan optimisation,” said Jetson.
“Next, via Uplift 2, we will execute our brownfield expansion projects. Delivery of the Simberi sulphide feasibility study, Atlantic project pipeline and filling the mill at Leonora are key to extracting maximum value from our existing footprint and commitment to these regions.
“We have assembled a team with extensive operational and technical experience to deliver our strategy. Working to a detailed plan to deliver A$80-million to A$120-million annual cash contribution by 2023, we are singularly focused on creating enduring value for St Barbara as we actively address and solve historical challenges and constraints.”
Looking at 2021, St Barbara has maintained its gold production outlook of between 370 000 oz and 410 000 oz, at an AISC of between A$1 360/oz and A$1 510/oz.