26% Jump In Gold Equivalent Produced In Q4
K92 Mining Inc.(TSX: KNT) has achieved record production in the fourth quarter (at its Kainantu Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea of 29,820 oz AuEq, or 28,809 ounces of gold, 493,584 pounds of copper and 10,395 ounces of silver.
CEO, John Lewins, said annual production also achieved a record of 98,872 oz AuEq or 95,109 oz gold, 1,853,078 lbs copper and 36,067 oz silver, representing year-over-year AuEq production growth of 20%.
The fourth quarter achieved record mill throughput, processing a total of 68,932 tonnes. The record mill throughput and production was achieved despite five days of downtime for mill reline maintenance and a further five days treating a lower grade bulk sample from Judd Vein development.
The ramp-up of the mill following the commissioning of the Stage 2 Expansion has progressed well, sequentially improving through the fourth quarter, with metallurgical performance also improving, achieving recoveries of 91.70% for gold and 90.60% for copper. Further improvements are expected through 2021 from additional optimization to the flotation circuit, re-commissioning of the drum scrubber and introduction of the gravity circuit.
Mining operations achieved record material movements and development in the fourth quarter with 207,600 tonnes of total material movements (mill feed and waste) and 1.9 km of development mined. Importantly, the underground mine achieved the beginning of year target of reaching 1,100 tpd (mill feed) by year-end, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, during the quarter, stockpiles increased ~3,000 tonnes to ~21,000 tonnes at 11.8 g/t AuEq at year-end.
A new twin incline development made considerable progress in Q4 with the #2 (6m x 6m) incline now advanced 194 metres and the #3 (5m x 5m) incline advanced 200 metres at year-end. The rates of development achieved are consistent with meeting the 30-month project schedule.
Mr Lewins said that following the establishment of a comprehensive COVID-19 Management Plan, the Kainantu Mine has continued to operate during the pandemic, with a significant focus on health and safety and risk-mitigation.
The COVID-19 Management Plan includes establishing a Government recognised testing lab facility utilising qualified medical personnel on site, establishing quarantine and isolation facilities for incoming staff, and implementing enhanced hygiene, disinfecting and training systems and procedures.
“We are especially pleased with the performance of the Kainantu Gold Mine during the fourth quarter, achieving record production. Importantly, the quarter was underpinned by record mill throughput, mine material movements and mine development,” Mr Lewins said.
“The fourth quarter represented the first full quarter of the Stage 2 Expansion, after completing the commissioning of the plant expansion in late-Q3. The mill has continued to ramp-up well, with both throughput and recoveries improving through the quarter, and particularly strong performance in December. Both throughput and recoveries are expected to continue to improve as we optimize the circuit and recommission the drum scrubber and gravity circuit.
“Underground mining operations have delivered strong performance on multiple fronts and achieved the beginning-of-year target of 1,100 tpd mill feed by year-end. This target was achieved through progressively improving our operational flexibility by executing on our underground development plan to open up the mine vertically and laterally and executing on long hole stoping for both the K1 and K2 veins.
“We are pleased to report that long hole stoping has delivered lower dilution than planned, particularly from the K1 vein. Less dilution than expected combined with a generally persistent positive gold grade reconciliation to date has contributed to another quarter of solid head grades.
2020 represents our third consecutive year of production growth and 2021 promises to continue that record with our first full year of the Stage 2 Expansion.
“Exploration activities have ramped up considerably, ending 2020 with 10 drill rigs on site and an eleventh rig expected to arrive shortly. The drill rigs are targeting the Judd, Karempe, Kora and Kora South vein systems, and the Blue Lake porphyry.”