An update to the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Syama underground gold mine, in Mali, has delivered a significant reduction in the life-of-mine (LoM) all-in sustaining cost (AISC) to $746/oz, from $881/oz.
The DFS update presents the results of an ongoing effort by Resolute Mining to critically examine and pursue improvements in all aspects of its flagship operation.
A key focus, the miner explained on Tuesday, has been the redesign and rescheduling of the underground mine, following the 39% increase in mineral resources.
The adoption of autonomous mining will result in substantially lower average mining costs, while improvements to site power generation facilities will deliver significant reductions in processing costs.
Resolute Mining is developing a new underground mine at Syama and is on track to begin sub-level caving in December 2018.
The sub-level cave mine plan at Syama lends itself to automation, MD and CEO John Wellborn explained, noting that the miner’s partnership with engineering company Sandvik to deliver autonomous haulage and trucking enables major productivity and cost improvements over the original DFS.
“Our ambition at Syama is to transform this world-class gold deposit into a world-class gold mine. The updated DFS numbers capture the progress we have made in exploration, automation, and power, and confirm that Resolute is transforming Syama into a robust, long-life and low-cost mine,” he explained.
An upgrade of the Syama power station supports a further cost reduction in sulphide processing. Collectively, Wellborn pointed out, these improvements support LoM production at an AISC of about $746/oz, a material improvement on the original mine design.
He further enthused that the company’s investment in technology and exploration is resulting in a substantial expansion to the scale, operating margins and value of Syama.
“Reducing operating costs and increasing production at Syama is consistent with our journey to build an operation that utilizes best-in-class technology while maintaining flexibility to incorporate further advances in mining and processing. We aim to make Syama the best mine of its type in the world and to ensure that we unlock the full potential of this outstanding orebody”.
Wellborn further elaborated that the pursuit of world-class mining and processing has been accompanied by a renewed commitment to, and investment in, exploration.
“The exceptional drill results achieved over the past two years have been followed by a sophisticated and rigorous mine design and evaluation process, which has resulted in an increase of nearly one-million ounces in contained gold in the Syama underground probable reserve,” he said.
In addition, Wellborn highlighted that Resolute has discovered and started the delineation of a new ore zone at Nafolo. He cited this as a “breakthrough in our [Resolute] understanding of the size and potential of the Syama mineralised system”.
The miner remains confident of further growth in the resource base.
“The growing reserves at Syama, and our commitment to new technologies, offer significant opportunities for further optimisation, expansion and unit cost reduction,” Wellborn added.
The DFS update is based on maintaining the planned mining rate of about 2.4-million tonnes yearly.
This mining rate was originally programmed in the original DFS on the basis of the 2015 assessment of the available sulphide processing capacity at Syama.
“Our study focus at Syama will now turn to identifying the optimal future mining rate based on the improved automated infrastructure we have developed, and the significant progress being made on our processing capabilities,” Wellborn said.
He pointed out that there is “obvious scope” to increase the current planned mining rate of 2.4-million-tonnes to about four-million-tonnes yearly.