Newmont forecasts record gold at Ghana’s Ahafo after $175m mill expansion goes “commercial”

NEWMONT Goldcorp forecast record gold from Ahafo, its Ghana gold mine after achieving commercial production at a $175m, 100,000 ounce a year mill expansion.

“The Ahafo Mill Expansion represents our third profitable project delivered on schedule and within budget in 2019,” said Tom Palmer, Newmont president and CEO in a statement. The other projects are the Tanami Power project in Australia and the Borden mine in Canada.

An internal rate of return of more than 20% at a $1,200 gold price has been imputed to the mill expansion which will extend profitable gold output at the mine through to 2029. “I continue to be encouraged by Ahafo’s and Ghana’s mineral prospectivity and the potential for ongoing, profitable growth,” said Palmer.

Combined with the development of an underground mine at Subika underground, completed in November 2018, the mill expansion is expected to increase Ahafo’s average annual gold production to between 550,000 and 650,000 ounces a year through to 2024, while lowering life-of-mine processing costs, the company said.

Mill capacity at Ahafo has been lifted more than 50% to nearly 10 million tons a year with the addition of a crusher, grinding mill and leach tanks to the circuit. It will “… accelerate efficient processing of ore from stockpiles and the Subika Underground mine, as well as harder, lower-grade ore from Ahafo’s existing pits,” the company said.

“Ahafo is expected to deliver record production this year – with improved costs – driven by higher grades from the Subika open pit, a full year of mining from the Subika Underground and the completion of the Ahafo Mill Expansion,” said Newmont Goldcorp.

Commercial production began at Ahafo in 2006, and in 2018 the operation sold 436,000 oz of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $864/oz.

Newmont suspended work on its Ahafo project last year following an accident in which six contractors lost their lives. Newmont operates two mines in Ghana: the other is Akyem, in Ghana’s eastern region, which poured its first gold in 2014.