Midtier miner Iamgold has started a strategic review to evaluate options for its Rosebel mine, which will require a material capital investment in 2022 and 2023 to address certain challenges that the mine has been experiencing over the last two years.
These challenges at Rosebel, in Suriname, have resulted in delays in stripping, strategic pit pushbacks, maintenance and the completion of required infrastructure at Saramacca, Iamgold said on Wednesday.
Given Iamgold’s “current capital allocation prioritisation, the company is commencing a strategic review process to evaluate options for Rosebel”, it said in a statement, announcing an updated strategic focus and asset portfolio optimisation.
Outgoing CEO Gordon Stothart, whose resignation was separately announced, said that the review was to ensure that Iamgold focused on “value-generating assets, maximising net free cash flow and prudent capital management”.
Iamgold also announced a new life-of-mine plan (LOMP) for Rosebel, based on revised geological models and cost increases, saying it was conservatively constrained given the other capital requirements of the group at the present time.
Two of the key priorities for Rosebel relate to stripping and mill capacity to treat hard rock. Considerable stripping was required to access deep, higher grade ore in existing pits, resulting in the necessity for a material capital outlay in the next five years.
The capacity for the mill to deal with the Rosebel ore hardness could be alleviated by the replacement and expansion of two crushers at an estimated cost of $30-million.
A total of $1.24-billion of capital expenditure is estimated for the remaining 12 years of mine life.
The mining rate in the Rosebel 2022 LOMP is estimated at a rate of 59-million tonnes a year in 2022 and steadily increases to a rate of 64-million tonnes a year from the Rosebel and Sarmacca pits until 2026. From 2027, the mining rate will increase to 73-million tonnes a year, with additional loading and hauling units, and will start to decline from 2031 as pits are mined out.
Rosebel produced 154 000 attributable ounces in 2021, in line with the guidance of 140 000 oz to 160 000 oz.
In 2022, Rosebel attributable gold production is forecast to be in the range of 155 000 oz to 180 000 oz, with production expected to be stronger in the second half after the seasonal rains subside and as a result of expected increased recoveries from continuing refurbishment initiatives at the mill complex.
Looking beyond 2022, Rosebel is expected to produce 180 000 oz to 200 000 oz of attributable gold ounces in 2023 and 2024.