Asante Gold starts Bibiani mine processing plant

Bibiani has previous production of over 4 million ounces of gold. (Image courtesy of Asante Gold.)

Asante Gold (OTCMKTS: ASGOF) has begun operations of the processing plant and associated equipment at its Bibiani gold mine in Ghana.

The pure gold exploration and development company plans to carry out a 14-day evaluation period during which it will control, calibrate operating systems and align critical equipment “under full load”.

Bibiani, which Asante acquired last year from Australia’s Resolute Mining (ASX, LON: RSG), will become a 24 hour/day operation after the trial period. 

The Vancouver-based miner said the mining program for the past-producing mine is on track, with material movement running at six million tonnes per month and first gold pour expected in the third quarter of the year.

Asante aims to produce about 175,000 ounces of gold in the first 12 months of operations, ramping up to 220,000 ounces annually in the second year and 200,000-255,000 ounces a year for years three to eight.

“We are pleased that our refurbishment efforts at the Bibiani Gold Mine have been delivered ahead of schedule,” President and chief executive Dave Anthony said in the statement.

Based on an updated feasibility study released by Resolute in July 2018, Bibiani has the potential to generate about 100,000 ounces of gold per year over a ten-year mine life at a life-of-mine all-in sustaining cost of $764 per ounce.  

The company also announced this week the acquisition of the Chirano gold mine from Kinross Gold (TSX: K)(NYSE: KGC) has been temporarily delayed pending resolution of outstanding administrative matters. Asante said it expects to proceed with the closing of the Chirano acquisition following resolution and the material terms of the deal remain the same.

The open-pit and underground mining operation in southwestern Ghana is located immediately south of Bibiani. Last year it churned out 154,668 gold-equivalent ounces, compared to 166,590 in 2020.

Asante Gold has strong ties to Ghana, with Ghanaian citizens holding a significant shareholding, as well as board and executive roles.

No longer no. 1

The start of operations of Bibiani mine comes at at time when Ghana is facing a decline in gold production.

Last year, the country’s total production of the precious metal fell 29.9% to slightly over 2.8 million ounces from the previous year, reaching its lowest level since 2008, Joshua Mortoti, President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines said on Friday.

The drop means that Ghana is no longer the top gold producer in Africa, but the second, after South Africa.

(With files from Reuters)