Asanko Gold Inc, listed on the TSX and NYSE American, has provided an update on the development of the Esaase project, which forms part of the multi-pit Asanko Gold Mine (AGM), located in Ghana. The AGM is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Gold Fields which is managed and operated by Asanko.
A view of the Esaase site (photo: Asanko).
Esaase is a large-scale permitted greenfields deposit located approximately 27 km from the processing facility. A bulk sample was mined and processed through the central processing facility during Q4-2018, with the Esaase material performing above expectations. The trial mining operation, which commenced in January 2019 and will continue until end of June 2019, is focused on mining the surface oxides of the deposit. Mining is restricted to day shift only, with minimal blasting, and the material is being trucked to the processing facility via the newly commissioned haul road.
Mining rates are expected to approximate 350 000 to 400 000 tonnes per month during this period. Pre-production capital is estimated at US$18 million, of which US$11 million has been spent up to December 2018, and consists of initial infrastructure, mobilisation of the mining contractor, initial mining works and the construction of a section of haul road to connect Esaase to the existing AGM haul road network.
In 2017, Asanko published a Definitive Feasibility Study for the AGM, which included the development of Esaase and envisaged an overland conveyor to transport the ore from Esaase to the processing facility as part of the Project 5 Million (P5M) growth project. The Esaase mine, overland conveyor and the haul road are permitted.
Following the JV transaction with Gold Fields, which was concluded in July 2018, the JV partners undertook a detailed review of the proposed Esaase development plan and associated long-term ore transportation solution. This included a programme of in-fill reverse circulation drilling and re-logging of historical core which has helped to better understand the geological controls to mineralisation. All the new data is being compiled into updated mineral resource and reserve estimates.
In addition, other technical aspects such as the geotechnical, hydrogeological and metallurgical design parameters have also been re-evaluated, incorporating recent production data from the bulk sampling and trial mining operation. This, together with the updated mineral resource and reserve estimates, will result in an updated LoM plan that will confirm the optimal ore transportation solution and associated capital cost that will form the basis of the 2019 long-term development plan for Esaase. This will be presented to the JV partners for a development decision in Q2-2019.
Commenting on the update, Peter Breese, President and CEO, said: “The large-scale Esaase deposit provides an exciting near-term organic growth opportunity for the business. Ahead of a decision by the JV partners on the full-scale development plan in Q2-2019, it was appropriate to undertake a bulk sampling and trial mining operation and use the production and technical data to augment the updated Life of Mine plan. We are very encouraged by the results from the bulk sample and the trial mining so far, with the oxides performing well in the mill; throughput is exceeding expectations and gold recovery is in line with current levels experienced from other feed sources.”