PROCESSING

An expanded Essakane on its way

Canadian miner Iamgold confirmed it had opted to up the capacity of its carbon-in-leach plant at the Essakane operation in Burkina Faso, and postpone the planned heap-leach project to the end of its mine life

Iamgold’s Essakane gold operation in Burkina Faso

Iamgold’s Essakane gold operation in Burkina Faso

Officials said the feasibility studies for the projects were now complete, and it would be following those plans instead of operating both in parallel at the West African mine.

"The results support an increase in current hard-rock carbon-in-leach plant capacity and outlines an economically viable heap leach facility at the end of CIL operations," according to the miner.

Specifically, the study revealed that Iamgold is positioned to boost its CIL plant to a 11.7Mt/y capacity versus its original projection of 10.8Mt/y.

Its heap-leach throughput, meanwhile, will be 8.5Mt/y from 2027-2031. This is compared to an initial 10Mt/y, but also reflects an improved recoveries estimate of 67% instead of 55%.

In total, the report outlined a 12-year mine life, from 2020-2031.

Iamgold said it would commission a newly optimised CIL plan in the September quarter of next year, with "robust" annual production of 433,000oz - an estimate 4% above a previous study.

Peak year production, it added, should exceed 530,000oz using CIL. At the end of CIL production, HL production should be 73,000oz/y.

"With our self-funding lens in place, the Iamgold team reviewed the CIL/HL feasibility study and produced a robust, low-cost plan with optionality in the future," president and CEO Steve Letwin said.

Essakane, located in the Sehel region, is 10% owned by the Burkina Faso government.

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