The capacity of the Lefa Corridor gold project – located approximately 700 km north-east of Conakry, the capital of the Republic of Guinea – is being increased by more than 50% from 260 000 to 400 000 oz pa.

The company behind the project is Crew Gold Corporation – an international mining company focused on identifying, acquiring, developing and operating mineral resource projects worldwide with a primary focus on gold.

The US$196 million (more than R1.4 billion) expansion of the Lefa mine includes the construction of a 7 million tpa CIP processing plant. Ore throughput for the new plant in Q1 of 2007 was 408 715t at a head grade of 1.22 g/t containing 16 031 oz. In Q2 it rose to 669 196t at a head grade of 1.2 g/t, containing 26 595 oz of gold. Lower-grade ore is being used during commissioning so that the higher grades can be processed once the plant is running at maximum efficiency. With the upgrade of the gold recovery units production capacity should increase to between 400 000 and 450 000 oz when higher-grade material is mined from satellite pits.

Crew management is continuing to increase throughput and debug the plant. The decision to increase capacity means an extended commissioning phase, as tanks will have to be taken offline to allow for modifications to take place.

The upgrade programme is expected to be completed by Q1 2008, and has a cost estimate of approximately US10 million (more than R70 million). The planning of the upgrade was completed during the second quarter, all tenders for work and parts have been placed, and the ordering of equipment has commenced. Provided all new equipment and parts are received on schedule, commissioning of the expanded plant will be on time in Q1 of 2008.

Meanwhile Crewe’s exploration programme is continuing to give encouraging results. Close to 50% of its US16 million (R112 million) exploration budget and more than 300 000 m drilling programme has been completed. Particular focus is on the nearby Banora deposit with indicative grades of 3-4 g/t, and the Siguirini deposits with indicative grades of 4-5 g/t. Crew is planning to produce from both deposits in 2008.

An interim resource and reserve statement from Banora and Siguirini is scheduled to be released during Q4 of 2007. These satellite pits are easily accessible and will play an integral short and long-term role in expanding production targets at Lefa past 380 000 oz pa.

As the regional exploration work matures, the company believes there is clear potential for increasing the capacity at the Lefa plant even further, and for the possibility of building new mine and plant operations on the Lefa concession.