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Sukari’s underground mine development progressing

With the Sukari gold mine in Egypt having evolved to the point where it passed the tonne of gold poured and the millionth tonne of ore processed during the first quarter of this year, it is now progressing its underground development. This has seen the Amun decline development begin. By the start of this year the Amun decline has already recorded an advance of 147 metres.

By the end of March 2010 it had recorded an advance of 1,072 metres in total, including development of the main decline, ventilation decline and escape way infrastructure. The decline is currently 75 metres below surface and the planned development is expected to provide initial access to the orebody 250 m below surface towards the end of 2010. Stoping panels are scheduled to commence production in early 2011.

Centamin, which operates the mine, believes it has the opportunity to increase production by accessing higher grade ore from an underground mine. The aim is to access this higher grade ore earlier than otherwise would have been scheduled through surface mining. As well as providing the haulage access for the planned underground operation, the decline will also provide a platform from which to delineate deeper targets which may form the basis of a larger underground operation looking forward.

Sukari is targeting an initial underground mining rate of 500,000 tonnes a year at a grade of between 5.0 and 10 g/t. The company also reports that the Sukari process plant continues to perform above its nameplate capacity of four million tonnes a year and remains on track to produce 200,000 ounces of gold in 2010.

In April this year, Sukari commissioned its stage two sulphide circuit and began processing sulphide ore. Engineering works for the expansion of throughput at Sukari to 8.0 – 10 million tonnes a year began during the first quarter of 2010.

Sukari has a mineral resource of 210.2 million tonnes of gold at 1.52 g/t for 10.29 million ounces of measured and indicated resources, and another 66.3 million tonnes at 1.6 g/t for 3.4 million ounces in the inferred category. This is at a 0.5 g/t cut off grade. The company has eight drill rigs on site, which continue resource definition drilling to target the Hapi, Amun Deeps and Pharaoh zones.

Centamin conducts its open pit mining operations on an owner operator basis with the stripping ratio currently about 4.4:1. Its primary mining fleet includes ten Cat785C rear dump trucks and three O&K RH120E excavators with additional mine support equipment in place. Centamin says that additional trucking fleet is being shipped to Sukari and will be commissioned during the June 2010 quarter.