CENTAMIN said it would press ahead with a $25m to $35m project aimed at increasing the underground mining rate of its Sukari mine in Egypt. The project will see the operation consistently produce 500,000 ounces of gold a year, the firm added.
This followed a study which recommended increasing the mining rate to 1.5 million tons annually. A cut off grade of 2.2 grams per ton of gold was applied in the study. Portals into the open pit section of Sukari would be used to reduce haulage distances and improve productivity, said Centamin.
This will allow the trucking fleet requirement to remain “reasonably” consistent as mining continues at depth.
“The ability to expand the underground is a result of our transformed approach to mineral resource management which delivered a doubling of the underground resserve in 2021, coupled with the productivity and cost benefits that are being realised following the transition to owner mining,” said Martin Horgan, CEO of Centamin.
Centamin said the next step was to engineer and schedule the expansion in the first half of next year which will also incorporate Sukari’s updated mineral resource update, due to be published in December.
Underground mining rates will gradually ramp up throughout 2024 and reach an increased steady state in 2025, the company said. “The expansion option that we are taking forward to the next phase of the mine planning offers both low capital intensity and lower level of execution risk,” said Horgan.
Centamin produced 127,512 oz in the third quarter taking gold production for the year-to-date to 331,410 oz – on track for the middle of full year production guidance which was set at 430,000 to 460,000 oz.
Speaking to Miningmx in October, Horgan said Centamin would turn its attention to potential merger and acquisition targets once it had stabilised Sukari. “We’re ready to step on to the pitch. We’re match fit; we’re ready to go but we’re going to look carefully at the opportunities that are out there,” he said.