This is the second project Endeavour has brought online ahead of schedule and under budget in the past 18 months, with first gold poured at its flagship Houndé mine in Burkina Faso in October 2017.
As with Houndé, the Ity CIL project was built in under 18 months, with the plant already running at its 4 million tonnes per annum nameplate capacity after a rapid ramp-up.
Ity's first pour yielded around 1,800oz of gold, higher than Houndé's first pour of 980oz.
First ore was introduced into the Ity CIL processing plant a month ago, with approximately 135,160t of ore processed since.
Endeavour said it expected to declare commercial production early in the June quarter, with the start of performance trial testing imminent.
CEO Sébastien de Montessus said the gold pour and fast ramp-up meant the Ity CIL would quickly contribute to Endeavour's cash generation potential.
The company has already started optimisation and de-bottlenecking work to increase the plant nameplate capacity to 5Mtpa at a minimal cost of US$10-15 million.
The work includes pipes and pumps upgrades and a second 50t oxygen plant. It doesn't require any additional mining fleet, and the upgrades are expected to be completed during scheduled plant maintenance shutdowns throughout the next six months.
"Given its current 15-year mine life and strong exploration potential, our ability to increase the plant size by 1Mtpa to 5Mpta 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," de Montessus said.
"With this upgrade, Ity has the potential to produce circa 300,000oz of gold per annum at a low AISC."
Ity's output for 2019 is forecast at 160,000-200,000oz at an all-in sustaining cost of US$525-590 per ounce.
Endeavour put the overall project capital expenditure at around US$420 million, including the upgrade costs and 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.
It is busy with a US$11 million exploration programme at the La Plaque target totalling around 71,000m of drilling this year, with the aim of publishing an updated resource in the June quarter and testing other targets, including Floleu, Daapleu SW and Samuel.