K92 Mining Inc., has reported production in the third quarter (“Q3”) at its Kainantu Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea, of 24,122 oz AuEq or 21,908 oz gold, 802,545 lbs copper and 19,736 oz of silver. Sales for the third quarter totalled 24,057 oz AuEq or 21,675 oz gold, 868,175 lbs copper and 20,444 oz of silver.
During the third quarter, the process plant delivered record throughput of 87,621 tonnes and importantly, during the month of September, achieved Stage 2 Expansion design throughput, increasing to an average of 1,100 tonnes per day, with 20 days processing more than 1,100 tonnes and a single day record of 1,408 tonnes processed on September 22, 2021.
Following the performance of the existing plant and the ability of the mill to deliver a notably finer than required product size, the Stage 2A Expansion to increase annual throughput from 400,000 tpa (1,100 tpd) to 500,000 (1,370 tpd) was approved (see October 7, 2021 press release: K92 Mining Announces Stage 2A Expansion to Increase Throughput +25% to 500,000 Tonnes Per Annum at Kainantu Gold Mine).
The record quarterly material movements were achieved despite short-term challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first half of 2021, Papua New Guinea experienced record levels of COVID-19 cases, resulting in significant short staffing due to COVID-19 related absenteeism in addition to an increase in quarantine length and enhanced quarantine control measures. Additionally, from mid-March to mid-May, expatriate travel was suspended between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
These operational challenges had a notable impact on underground development and the mining sequence by delaying access to higher-grade stoping areas at Kora in Q3, resulting in below budget material movements and gold head grades in addition to sub-optimal process plant blending. These challenges have been significantly addressed through: i) a +50% increase in development metres in Q3 vs Q2, increasing access to more stoping areas at Kora, and; ii) mining ramping up at a new, major mining front at the Judd Vein System.
In the second half of Q3, flat backing commenced at the J1 Vein, providing a considerable boost to underground productivities. In September, production of 11,095 oz Au, 284,002 lbs Cu, 7,871oz Ag or 11,891 oz AuEq was achieved. Production stoping at Judd is planned for Q4 and is expected to provide a significant boost to operational flexibility and material movements. Judd is located ~150-200m from existing infrastructure at Kora, making it highly efficient to access going forward.
During the quarter, long hole stoping continued to perform to design, with operations focused on Kora’s K1 and K2 veins and also Judd’s J1 veins for a total of 6 levels mined. Mining on Kora was conducted on the 1150, 1170, 1205, 1225 and 1265 levels and Judd on the 1235 and 1265 levels.
The new twin incline development resumed in late May, after the COVID-19 Papua New Guinea and Australia travel restrictions were lifted and the COVID-19 situation in Papua New Guinea improved. Twin incline development advance was +16% above budget in Q3, the #2 (6m x 6m) incline has now advanced a total of 638 metres and the #3 (5m x 5m) incline has now advanced a total of 680 metres as of September 30, 2021.