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AngloGold Ashanti to focus on African mines
South African gold miner AngloGold Ashanti (ANG) said on Friday that its operations in North and South
America produced well in the third quarter, while, in general, the South African mines put in a good performance.
However, management concern and attention remains firmly focused on its African mines - Obuasi in Ghana, Morila in Mali and Geita in Tanzania.
Releasing results for the quarter ended September, the company said that Geita and Obuasi both underperformed during the quarter.
However, measures are in place to address the issues.
At Obuasi gold production declined 12% quarter-on-quarter to 94,000oz due to insufficient developed and drilled underground reserves, which resulted in decreased mining flexibility.
New trackless mining equipment has been delivered and an operator training programme is underway to ensure that the utilisation and availability of this new equipment meets planned levels going forward, the group said.
Reorganisation of the planning and technical functions is also ongoing and, combined with the new equipment delivery, should result in underground production rates being restored to planned levels over the course of the next year.
Total cash costs, which increased to $300/oz, were higher than expected, due to the impact of fixed costs and lower production levels.
The company added that it was well aware that Obuasi had previously been capital starved and needed to be recapitalised, and that it had taken the opportunity to change the mine's strategy.
For these reasons, AngloGold Ashanti didn't believe that it would get Obuasi to the level of efficiencies in
less than four to six quarters.
While the group was not happy with production during the last quarter, there was an action plan in place to impact and raise Obuasi's game to make it sustainable into the future, the group said.
Operations at Siguiri (85% attributable) continued to reflect the effects of a government embargo implemented in May on fuel and the sale of gold.
Although fuel deliveries have recommenced and the embargo on gold sales has been lifted, an unexpected shortage of cement supplies resulted in reduced crushing and stacking operations.
Consequently, mining during the third quarter concentrated primarily on waste stripping and production decreased slightly q/q to 23,000oz, while total cash costs increased to $504/oz.
Cement supplies have now been sourced and full production on the heap leach pad is expected by early November, AngloGold added.
Construction of the carbon-in-pulp (CIP) plant continues and the plant is on track for commissioning during the first quarter of 2005.
Production for the fourth quarter, however, will nevertheless be impacted by the delay in the CIP plant construction, as well as by the cement shortage, which prevents the current plant from operating at full capacity.
In Mali, Morila's (40% attributable), production was 9% higher q/q at 37,000oz, the result of an 11% increase in recovered grade.
The benefit of the improved grade was partially offset by a 3% reduction in tonnage throughput, which resulted from a SAG mill gearbox replacement that took ten days in August, in addition to a motor change in the primary crusher in September.
Total cash costs were 4% higher q/q at $248/oz, mainly due to inflation - higher diesel prices and mining contractor costs, although improved grade partially counteracted this effect.
The plant expansion was operating at design capacity by the end of the third quarter and mining is on schedule to feed higher grade ore from Pit Three in the fourth quarter.
Significantly improved grades, higher throughput and increased gold production are expected next quarter. Negotiations regarding the productivity bonus dispute are ongoing, the group said.
At Sadiola (38% attributable), gold production decreased by 14% to 38,000oz and cash costs increased by
15% to $267/oz as a result of the grade decline and increased inflation. Both production and grade are expected to increase in the fourth quarter.
Production at Yatela (40% attributable), at 24,000oz, was 4% below that of the previous quarter due to a decrease in tonnage stacked.
Total cash costs went down by 2% to $233/oz, mainly due to decreased volumes and reduced economies of scale. A production increase is expected in the fourth quarter.
At Geita, third quarter production decreased to 48,000 ounces from 168,000 ounces in the second quarter and total cash costs increased 30% to $294/oz, due to increased mining contractor costs and a continued strengthening in the diesel price, while additional costs were incurred from a mill liner replacement and higher plant maintenance costs.
Significant improvements in grade and gold production are expected during the fourth quarter.
AngloGold Ashanti said it expected to produce around 1.7 million ounces of gold in the December quarter at a total cash cost of about $262/oz from its operations worldwide.