Asante Gold Corporation has reported its operating and financial results for the three months ended October 31, 2022 (“FY 2023 Q3” or “Q3”) and provides an update and status report for the initiatives the Company has undertaken at its Bibiani Gold Mine (“Bibiani”) and Chirano Gold Mine (“Chirano”) in Ghana. All financial information provided in this news release is unaudited and dollar figures are Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated.
- No Lost Time Injuries recorded
- Gold production and sales of 53,503 ounces
- Revenue of $116.3 million
- Cash balance $74.9 million at October 31, 2022
- Completed US$20 million in deferred payments for Bibiani acquisition
- Completed US$26.8 million payment on the Company’s gold forward sale agreement
- Closed Chirano acquisition on August 10, 2022
- Identified synergies between Chirano and Bibiani (~15 km apart) of approximately $5.5 to $7 million per year, with related initiatives scheduled to be rolled out through Q2 2023
- Continued exploration at Bibiani targeting an increase in mine life from 8.3 to +10 years
- Initiated exploration program at Chirano targeting an increase in mine life from 5 to +10 years
- Initiated a Chirano business improvement plan targeting 30% increase in production and 10% decrease in AISC for calendar 2024
SUBSEQUENT TO QUARTER END – NOVEMBER 2022 HIGHLIGHTS
- Bibiani ramp up on track with ~230,000 tonnes of ore processed, 18% above plan
- Chirano achieving target production levels with ~265,000 tonnes of ore processed
- Consolidated preliminary gold production of 23,760 ounces with 24,562 ounces delivered to refinery
- Gold sold in the month totaled 29,550 gold equivalent ounces
- Completed US$10 million payment for Bibiani, finalizing the US$90 million acquisition
- Bibiani and Chirano Gold Mines have combined forecast production of approximately 400,000 ounces of gold for 2023
Dave Anthony, President and CEO of Asante stated, “We have made exceptional progress thus far in 2022. Over the past 12 months we have transformed Asante from an early-stage exploration company to a mid-tier gold producer. Over the past five months we have made payments totaling US$56.8 million towards closing our Bibiani acquisition and repaying our gold forward sale agreement. Looking forward, we have consolidated two operating mines near each other, creating a district scale land package with tremendous exploration potential. Value creation initiatives are proceeding across our business as we look to make the Bibiani-Chirano complex one of the top mining districts in Africa.”
The Bibiani process plant and mine facilities are operating on a 24 hour per day basis, with ~230,000 tonnes of ore treated in November. This is 18% ahead of the ramp up schedule and Asante plans to increase throughput to 250,000 tonnes ore per month by Q1 2023. Preliminary gold production in November was 12,960 ounces, with 84.8% recovery from 1.97 g/t gold average gold grade feeding the mill. November results were approximately 28% above the Company’s start up plan.
Mine plan and mine to mill reconciliation for the Walsh satellite pit and Main Pit remain on target. The underground mine program study initiated in Q3 2022 remains on track, with completion expected in June 2023.
The Walsh Pit continues to outperform, relative to our initial planned gold production. The area between the Walsh and Main pits were historically used for tailings storage. Exploration success in this area has increased planned production from the Walsh pit from 20,000 to 100,000 ounces, with further exploration work underway.
The near mine exploration program continues and the Company is working to extend the Bibiani Open Pit life of mine from 8.3 years to more than 10 years. Exploration continues to focus on three targets: Elizabeth, Grasshopper and Russell South. Total drilling completed year-to-date now exceeds 22,000 metres and the Company expects to exceed the plan for the year of 23,900 metres. The Company plans to continue its near mine development exploration program in calendar 2023 and 2024 with planned drilling of 30,000 metres per year.
The Company filed an updated National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) technical report on the Bibiani Gold Mine on September 1, 2022 that incorporates exploration and mine planning results to February 28, 2022. Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources are reported as 2.29 million ounces and are further classified as 1.95 million ounces of Mineral Reserves. An updated NI 43-101 technical report to incorporate results of the 2022 exploration program is planned for Q3 2023. This report will incorporate exploration results and depletion.
The Chirano acquisition was closed on August 10, 2022 and results for the FY 2023 Q3 only include operating results for the period of August 10 to October 31, 2022.
All process plant and mine facilities are operating on a 24 hour per day basis, with ~265,000 tonnes of ore treated in November, as budgeted. Preliminary gold production in November was 10,800 ounces, with 89% recovery from 1.41 g/t average mill feed gold grade.
The Company has initiated a Chirano Transition and Business Improvement Plan targeting an increase Chirano gold production by 30% and a reduction in AISC by 10% for calendar 2024. The planned initiatives include:
- A pebble crusher has been ordered and comminution area upgrades are planned, to increase throughput to 330,000 tonnes per month (4M tonnes per year) by late 2023;
- A 3% improvement of gold recovery from August 2022 to date was achieved by the addition of liquid oxygen to the carbon-in-leach process. An oxygen plant, plus an Aachen Reactor to improve gold recovery are planned to be installed and made operational during Q3 2023;
- Gravity plant design and procurement are advanced with installation planned for completion at Q2 2023;
- The Paboase Mine has been placed on care and maintenance and its production is being replaced with lower cost ounces from other nearby mines. Development of the Mamnao open pit mine, plus the wide orebody Obra and Tano underground mines have been accelerated, to provide lower cost resources for processing; and
- Asante plans to invest minimum of $6 million per year in near mine and regional exploration over the next three years with the target to increase Chirano LOM from current 5 to +10 years; exploration of Aboduabo and Chine targets has been initiated.
Asante plans to invest in near mine and regional exploration at Chirano over the next three years with the target to increase Chirano’s life of mine from its current 5 years to over 10 years. Advanced exploration at the Aboduabo and Chine targets have been initiated.
CHIRANO AND BIBIANI INTEGRATION – SYNERGY INITIATIVES
The Company has commenced initiatives to capture synergies between the Bibiani and Chirano mines that are situated with process plants that are approximately 20 km apart. A principal initiative is development of an access road to directly link the process plants. This road will support shared services activities and will be developed further, to become a mine haul road, so that ore can be treated where most appropriate.
Detailed studies to identify and capture synergies between Chirano and Bibiani Mines are advanced. Opportunities to reduce costs and improve our operations have estimated value of approximately $5.5 to $7 million per year. Implementation of actions to capture these opportunities has been started, including coordinated supply of principle consumable materials to the mine with identified commonality.
Asante has established a Synergy Project Management Team, to deliver opportunities to share infrastructure and realize operational cost reductions.