Kinross drops $1.6bn Tasiast expansion

Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC) announced in its fourth quarter earnings released on Tuesday that it will not proceed with a $1.6 billion expansion of its Tasiast mine in Mauritania.

Kinross acquired the mine in 2010 as part of its takeover of Red Back Mining for $7.1 billion, but has written down the bulk of the value of the asset subsequently.

The expansion capex layout for Tasiast, in production since 2007, had already been cut from a pre-feasibility estimate of $2.7 billion.

Kinross reported record annual production in 2014 of 2.71 million ounces, but the Toronto-based company expects output to fall this year to between 2.4 million to 2.6 million ounces.

The decline is being blamed on anticipated lower grades at its other mine in West Africa called Chirano, the near end-of-life Kettle River-Buckhorn mine and Dvoinoye in Russia and reduced production from the Tasiast dump leach.

The company said production guidance also takes into consideration power rationing in Ghana, which began in December, and the possibility of power rationing in Brazil, which may affect operations in both countries.

Forecasts 2015 all-in sustaining costs are pegged at $1,000 to $1,100 per ounce, higher than 2014's $973 an ounce, due to an expected increase in sustaining capex and reduced gold production.

Total capital expenditures are forecast to be approximately $725 million in 2015, up from $631 million in 2014. Exploration activities at Kupol in Russia, Chirano and Tasiast added 765,191 gold ounces to Kinross’ measured and indicated mineral resource estimates.

Kinross lost 3% in value on the NYSE on Tuesday ahead of the announcement amid a softer gold price. The $3.7 billion counter is still up just under 15% year to date.