The impending environmental disaster at the Gold Ridge mine the Solomon Islands not a concern for St Barbara and its shareholders…
St Barbara projects prove their mettle
Esmarie Swanepoel | Mining Weekly
Gold miner St Barbara increased its gold production during the second quarter ended December, on the back of record quarterly production from it Leonora operations, and the highest monthly and quarterly production at its Simberi mine, since the project was acquired in 2012.
Group gold production for the quarter reached 97 917 oz, compared with the 68 823 oz produced in the previous quarter.
The Leonora operation, in Western Australia, accounted for 80 623 oz of this production, with the Gwalia mine and King of the Hills operation delivering 68 489 oz and 12 034 oz, respectively.
The increased gold production at the Leonora operations reflected an increase in volumes and grade, as well as the availability of high-grade stockpiles at Gwalia, which were created during the September 2014 maintenance shutdown.
The Simberi operation, in Papua New Guinea, delivered a further 17 294 oz during the quarter, with production at the mine benefiting from operating the semi-autogenous grinding mill and ball mill in parallel.
St Barbara noted that the engineering and maintenance programme to improve the performance of the Simberi processing plant was now largely complete, with a shutdown of the mill circuits completed during the quarter.
Despite the shutdown, mill throughput increased by 15% on the previous quarter, with 620 000 t milled, including a record 252 000 t in the month of December.
Operations at the Gold Ridge mine, in the Solomon Islands, remained suspended during the quarter, and St Barbara noted that negotiations with the local government regarding the potential transfer of ownership had made little progress.
No agreement had been reached on the necessary dewatering of the tailings storage facility, despite the company’s installation of the necessary infrastructure in anticipation of such an approval.
St Barbara told shareholders that the company was reviewing its strategic and legal options in relation to the Gold Ridge mine.
Looking ahead, St Barbara on Wednesday increased its production expectations for the Gwalia mine, from between 180 000 oz and 200 000 oz, to between 200 000 oz and 210 000 oz for 2015.
With production at King of the Hills coming to an end during the June quarter, St Barbara was expecting the project to deliver between 50 000 oz and 55 000 oz of gold, instead of the previous estimate of between 60 000 oz and 70 000 oz.
Simberi, meanwhile, was still expected to produce between 70 000 oz and 80 000 oz of gold during the full year, with production expected to increase to a rate of 100 000 oz/y by the June quarter.