With a total gold production of 3.5 Moz and an average AlSC of US$778/oz over a 11 year life of mine, the news coming the Wassa underground gold mine in Ghana certainly has my attention this week.
Operated by TSX-listed Golden Star Resources, last week the company filed a National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) technical report which includes a mineral reserve and resource update and a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) of the potential expansion of the Southern Extension zone at Wassa.
There was 86% increase in measured mineral resource and 98% increase in proven mineral reserve. This demonstrates improving geological confidence that has been delivered by recent infill drilling programmes.
Meanwhile, the PEA outlines a life of mine of 11 years from the inferred mineral resource in the Southern Extension zone, with total gold production of 3.5Moz. It outlines an average annual gold production of 294koz, representing an approximate 75% increase on the current production rate.
The PEA outlines a development pathway to increase the underground mining rate to fully utilise the plant’s processing capacity with low upfront capital demand through access and haulage via twin declines.
Opportunities to add value to the PEA outcomes include design optimisation (level spacing, stope size); haulage systems (infrastructure, electrification); resource extension (from drilling); and emissions reduction (renewables, power and water efficiency).
Furthermore, given the strength of the prevailing gold price, the investment in drilling, development and trade-off studies will be progressed in 2021.
Investment reaps good dividends
Company CEO Andrew Wray commented,”In 2020, we focused on improving our geological confidence in the orebody through an extensive infill drilling programme which has resulted in a significant increase in our measured resource and proven reserve.
“Converting the open pit reserve at Wassa to an underground reserve allows us to bring production from those areas forward with a lower upfront capital cost. Development of the upper mine will start to deliver production from 2023 and will provide a second decline access to the mine which can be incorporated into the long term mine design.
“The PEA demonstrates the significant value and growth potential of Wassa, clearly laying out the path to underground mining rates in excess of 7 000tpd and production of approximately 300koz per annum when in steady state production. Following this study and with a stronger balance sheet, we are in a position to further accelerate the investment in drilling, development and exploration programmess to deliver on the growth potential and value of Wassa.”
Wassa already has an impressive mineral resource. Now, with the company committed to furthering exploration, it could relate to further growth opportunities at Wassa. Certainly something to keep an eye out for in the future.