Resolute Mining Limited (Resolute or the Company) (ASX/LSE: RSG) presents its Quarterly Activities Report for the period ended 30 September 2020.
Resolute's performance during the September quarter reflects the consistent performance of the Mako Gold Mine (Mako) in Senegal and the impact of industrial action at the Syama Gold Mine (Syama) in Mali during the quarter. Extensive negotiations with Resolute site-based employees, the Union and Government Officials has resulted in a conciliation agreement and the cancellation of further planned strike action, as announced on 28 September 2020. This provides a solid basis for Syama operations to progress in line with expectations during the December quarter.
An interim government has now been established in Mali following the Coup on 18 August 2020. This government has the support of ECOWAS which has lifted all previously imposed sanctions on Mali. As a result, supply links into Mali have re-opened and transportation of key consumables to Syama has been re-established. Resolute's safety performance has remained at consistently commendable levels during this period of COVID-19, industrial and political disruption.
Operations at Mako and Syama are currently performing well and have achieved throughput and recovery at forecast levels during October. In addition, higher grade oxide material from the development of the Cashew open pit will be the primary source of Syama oxide ore in the December quarter. Full year results are therefore expected to meet the Company's guidance, with gold production at the lower end and costs at the upper end of the revised guidance range.
Health and Safety
The Company's Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) as at 30 September 2020 was 1.12 relative to 2.09 at 31 December 2019. Resolute continues to maintain effective infection control measures to protect employees and contractors at our sites and offices from the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical Hazard Management Standards have been developed to drive improved mitigation of critical health and safety risks across the Group.
A comprehensive response plan is in place to manage the COVID-19 pandemic at all company locations which includes, in addition to hygiene, PPE, and social distancing measures, testing and mandatory isolation procedures for positive cases amongst the workforce. The implemented protocols prioritise the health and safety of the workforce and have enabled operational continuity with currently no negative impacts on gold production.
Gold production at Syama during the quarter totalled 46,622oz at an AISC of US$1,628/oz.
Underground mining tonnages increased by 3% compared to the June quarter despite disruptions from industrial action. Syama sulphide processing and production performance for the quarter was impacted by the industrial action in September, which resulted in lower mill throughput while head grades were lower as the underground mine encountered lower grade ore zones in establishing the cave on the hangingwall of 1055mRL level, the fourth operating level within the mining sequence.
Plant recovery was stable averaging 79.5%. This reflected a consolidation of improvements made in the June quarter but was also impacted by disruption from the industrial action. Further improvement is expected in the December quarter as higher-grade ore is processed. Underground sulphide ore stocks at Syama increased from 491,000t to 501,000t at an average grade of 2.36 grams per tonne of gold (g/t Au). The large quantity of run-of-mine stockpiled underground ore at Syama provides significant operational flexibility in managing the mining and processing rates.
Syama oxide operations reflect the processing of low grade stock-piles following the completion of open pit mining activities at Tabakoroni in the June quarter, Syama industrial action and seasonal material handling issues associated with sticky ore. A new satellite open pit operation at the Cashew prospect commenced late in the September quarter, which will provide higher grade oxide material for processing in the December quarter. Exploration continues to identify opportunities for further satellite open pit operations to augment the existing stockpiles. Significant stockpiles of 3.0 million tonnes (Mt) of oxide ore at an average grade of 1.29g/t Au have been built and will be processed over 2021 and 2022.
Mako continues to perform reliably, with an increase in mining volumes reflecting the arrival of a new mining fleet to accelerate waste stripping and the easing of shortages of operating personnel in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughput was slightly lower than the June quarter following a planned shut down for a SAG mill reline in August. Stockpiles in excess of 2.3Mt of ore at an average grade of 1.2g/t Au are available for processing at Mako.
Resolute continues to progress the strategic review of the Bibiani Gold Mine (Bibiani) in Ghana. The Company continues to evaluate plans to recommission the mine, assess capital requirements, evaluate funding alternatives, and engage with third parties interested in acquiring the project.
The Company's exploration and drilling programs continued throughout the September quarter at Syama and recommenced in Senegal and Guinea. Resolute's exploration field programs in Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea were paused during the June quarter due to logistical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with border closures and travel restrictions imposed by respective governments. These programs restarted after restrictions eased in August.
Drill programs using reverse circulation (RC) and diamond rigs continued in multiple locations along the Syama greenstone belt, focusing on increasing the oxide resources to extend the life of the Syama oxide operation. Diamond drilling continues at Tabakoroni to extend the sulphide mineralisation down dip and along strike. Resolute announced the results of the ongoing exploration program and an updated Mineral Resource at Tabakoroni subsequent to quarter end, on 14 October 2020. The Tabakoroni Mineral Resource was upgraded to 7.4Mt at 4.4g/t Au at a 1.5g/t Au cut off for a total of 1.04Moz, an increase of 22% over the previous estimate.
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