The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) has granted Aureus Mining permission to discharge from its Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) and issued a permit for future discharges in compliance with the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC) limits.
A detailed start-up plan has been submitted to Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy for formal approval, outlining a controlled start-up of the gold processing plant.
The company has now received a letter from the ministry stating their commitment to working with the company to recommence operations and supporting the detailed start-up plan it has submitted for its review.
Modifications to the gold processing plant and detoxification circuit are nearing completion and the recommencement of operations is currently targeted for mid-June 2016 following the completion of gravity circuit screen replacement works and a full mill reline.
Mining operations have continued with a current ROM ore stockpile balance of approximately 105 694 t at a grade of 4.02 g/t gold; and the company is in advanced discussions to secure additional funding in the short-term from a potential strategic partner.
During the temporary suspension of processing operations, Aureus Mining has been focused upon the completion of various modifications to the process plant and detoxification circuit, with the assistance of technical specialists from Maelgwyn Mineral Services Africa (MMSA).
These modifications are nearing completion and have all been undertaken in accordance with the ICMC and various operational reviews have been carried out on site by international consultants including TSF experts Knight Piésold Consulting.
Prior to the recommencement of processing operations, the company intends to complete a full reline of the New Liberty ball mill, which was previously scheduled to be undertaken at the end of June 2016. This reline involves the mill being fitted with more heavy duty liners than originally supplied and improved lifters and grates.
The detailed start-up plan submitted by the company includes a gradual ramp-up in operations with waste and low grade ore towards name plate capacity at ROM grade ore, and including scheduled periods of plant downtime to allow for performance testing and additional modifications to be made within the process plant.
Investigations to date have shown that cyanide discharge exceedances of ICMC compliance guidelines and the environmental laws of Liberia have been recorded on the TSF and at environmental compliance monitoring points downstream of the TSF periodically between mid-December 2015 and March 2016.
Full disclosure of the historic exceedances has been made to the EPA. These exceedances can be attributed to operational issues at the plant, including complications with the oxygen plant, the detoxification circuit and on site laboratory resulting in a lack of stable operating conditions. Processing operations were suspended as previously reported by Aureus Mining on 10 May 2016.
Investigations led by international experts are on-going with the aim of understanding the impact of these discharges on the river ecosystem and downstream water users, and defining appropriate rehabilitation actions.
The company has provided additional water wells within the village of Jikando, the closest settlement to New Liberty situated 5 km downstream, and is ensuring there is no impact on the residents’ livelihoods while assessments to the downstream river ecosystem continue.