Following a first gold pour on 26 January 2018, Toro Gold (“Toro Gold” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on the first three months of production at its 90% owned Mako Gold Mine (“Mako”, or the “Mine”) in Eastern Senegal.
Highlights over the period January to April 2018 include:
“I am delighted to be able to provide this positive update on the performance of the Mako Mine in Senegal. After a highly successful construction period, the transition to operations has gone extremely well with all aspects of the mine operating either in line or better than forecast. Adrian de Freitas, General Manager, and the whole operations team have delivered an excellent first set of results and it has been achieved safely with no LTI’s recorded for the period. I am also delighted to note that of the total workforce 88% are Senegalese and over 60% are employed from the local Kedougou region.
As we settle into steady state operations, focus is now moving to the identification of operational enhancements to improve both production and cost performance against the current LoM plan. I look forward to providing further updates in due course.”
Following on from the first gold pour at the end of January, the Mako Mine completed a series of operational trials over a 7 day continuous period to confirm operational performance of the metallurgical plant and ensure its ability to meet and maintain design parameters – the Performance Trial.
As has been previously discussed, the ore types at Mako are hard and abrasive and a key focus of the Performance Trial was to therefore ensure the comminution circuit could achieve the target grind size at forecast power consumption and circuit wear rates / consumable use. Mining operations had encountered significantly more “weathered / soft” full grade ore in the pit than expected (see Mining section below) leading to the likelihood that the Performance Trial would be based on non-representative softer ore. Management accordingly took the decision to utilise available lower grade hard / fresh ore for the trial which led to feed grades over the Performance Trial period of 1.7g/t Au versus a budgeted grade for the period of 2.5g/t Au. This led to a lower than planned average mill feed grade over the period, although this has been offset by higher than expected mill throughput. Following the performance trial the “run of mine” ore being fed to the mill is in line with budget forecasts.
The Performance Trial was successfully completed during February 2018 and the construction team demobilised from the mine site shortly thereafter.
Mining operations have been on-going since mid-2017 during the construction phase and have progressed well with good performance from the mining contractor African Mining Services Senegal SARL (“AMSS”).
Grade control reconciliation to date shows good correlation with the forecast Reserve model with grade being better than forecast, tonnage slightly lower with the net position of contained gold at forecast levels.
Given the topography of the deposit, the mining plan developed as part of the feasibility study anticipated very limited weathered / soft material to be mined with hard / fresh ore anticipated almost from the start of mining operations. During the development of the open pit, it has become apparent that the weathering profile is more extensive than planned resulting in both the availability of free dig material and the use of lower powder factors for blasting – leading to improved operating costs through a reduction in drill and blast costs.
A strategic review of the pit sequencing and access layout is underway with the aim of optimising operational flexibility and reducing operating costs through shorter haulage distances. In the short term there has been a focus on developing available ore benches over the first quarter with mining operations switching focus back to waste stripping during Q2 2018. To this end ore tonnes mined are 10% higher than budgeted over this period against waste production which is 18% lower than forecast – this short term change has been implemented without impacting on the availability of mill feed during the balance of 2018 and beyond.
Commissioning and ramp up of the processing plant has been excellent with steady state production at name plate levels experienced from within a month after the first gold pour. Accordingly, year to date milling is some 18% above forecast as a result of both the rapid ramp up and mill availability of 95.4% over the period against the forecast 94%, leading to 540kt processed at a head grade of 2.34g/t Au against the budget of 460kt at 2.49g/t Au. Further, despite this increase in through put, the plant is achieving its target grind size of P(80) 125µm while using approximately 6.5MW of power against the design of 8.4MW.
General observations of wear points throughout the comminution circuit indicate better than forecast liner life which have led to lower operating costs and higher availability of the plant.
The fixed tail grade is some 44% lower than forecast, leading to improved metallurgical recoveries with the year to date indicating a recovery of 94.8% over the period against a budget of 91.3% recovery.
Further optimisation of the process plant will occur over the next 6 months to determine the optimal performance of the facility with target grind size, reagent use and throughput rates / power consumption reviewed with the aim of improving gold production and reducing costs.
Despite the lower head grade achieved through February due to the Performance Test, gold sales are ahead of target with a total of 32,556 ounces sold over the period against the budget of 32,270 ounces. Three shipments to the refinery in Switzerland have been successfully completed over the period.
Health and Safety performance has been excellent with zero Lost Time Injuries reported since the beginning of operations.
Total employment at the mine during April, inclusive of all subcontractors, was some 754 people. Of this total, over 60% were employed directly from the Kedougou region and overall some 88% of the total work force are Senegalese. Training and skills development of the local Senegalese workforce remains a focus to ensure that the mine continues to provide the maximum long-term benefit to both the local and national economy of Senegal.
Management focus for the balance of 2018 will be to identify further optimisation opportunities to improve the already excellent operating parameters. A review of the open pit mining schedule and haulage routes, powder factors and Reserve calculations will be completed in parallel with a review of plant performance which will look at throughput and grind size trade-offs to determine an optimal new life of mine plan during the second half of 2018. This is expected to be based on an updated Resource model that will likely include the results of on-going exploration works on the main deposit – an update on which will be provided in due course.
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