TSX-listed Endeavour Mining has announced that the first gold pour from the Ity CIL project in Côte d'Ivoire took place on March 18, 2019, ahead of schedule and under-budget. The first pour yielded approximately 1 800 ounces of gold.
Approximately 135 160 tonnes of ore have been processed since ore was introduced into the CIL processing plant on February 20, 2019 . Commercial production is expected to be declared in early Q2-2019 with performance trial testing soon to commence, as the crushing, milling and CIL circuits have quickly attained a stable nameplate capacity of 4 Mt/a.
The Ity CIL team celebrates the first gold pour.
Following the performance tests already conducted, Endeavour launched optimisation and de-bottlenecking work which is expected to increase the plant nameplate capacity by 1 Mt/a to 5 Mt/a, at a minimal cost of US$10-15 million. The volumetric upsize work mainly comprises an upgrade in pipes and pumps, and a second 50-tonne oxygen plant with no additional mining fleet required. These plant upgrades are expected to be completed during scheduled plant maintenance shut-downs throughout the next six months.
Sébastien de Montessus, Endeavour’s President and CEO, stated: “As we approach commercial production, I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our in-house construction team for successfully delivering the Ity CIL project ahead of schedule and under-budget, with an exceptional safety record of over 8,5 million hours without a lost time injury. This first gold pour and the remarkably quick ramp-up period is a transformational event for Endeavour as the Ity CIL project will quickly contribute to the Group's cash generation potential.
“Given its current 15-year mine life and strong exploration potential, our ability to increase the plant size by 1 Mt/a to 5 Mt/a for minimal additional capex represents a very compelling investment and is in line with our focus on capital allocation efficiency and return on capital employed criteria. With this upgrade, Ity has the potential to produce circa 300 koz of gold per annum at a low AISC.”
The Ity CIL project capex spend is tracking under-budget compared to the initial budget of US$412 million. In view of this and as construction is ahead of schedule, Endeavour decided to conduct additional works such as the construction of a fuel farm, building exploration facilities, and an additional US$7 million of crop compensation and resettlement related to prospective exploration grounds. Due to these additional works, and the US$10-15 million required for the above-stated plant upgrade to 5 Mt/a, the total project capex spend is expected to amount to about US$420 million.
A US$11 million exploration programme at Ity totalling approximately 71 000 m of drilling has been planned for 2019, with the aim of delineating additional resources at the Le Plaque target, and testing other targets such as Floleu, Daapleu SW and Samuel.
As previously guided, Ity is expected to produce 160-200 koz in 2019 at an AISC of US$525-590/oz, with the bottom-end of production guidance corresponding to the 4 Mt/a nameplate capacity while the top-end factors in upsides such as an earlier start date, an expedited ramp-up and the plant producing above its nameplate.