Aureus Mining achieved first gold pour at the New Liberty mine in June 2015
Aureus Mining will look to finalise a debt repayment schedule following first commercial gold production at its New Liberty gold mine in Liberia on 1 March 2016.

This is according to the TSX and AIM listed West African gold producer’s CEO and president David Reading on the announcement of Aureus Mining’s financial results for the year ended 31 December 2015.

“2015 was a difficult period for the mining industry and the company, however it was also a transformational period as we made a successful transition from gold developer to producer. Although the commissioning stage of the project brought some unexpected challenges, I am proud that we were able to successfully navigate through them, and declare commercial production at New Liberty.”

“The near term focus of the company is to complete the new mine plan and finalise a debt repayment schedule with our lenders, whilst ensuring that mining progresses to schedule throughout the wet season to facilitate the availability of sufficient ore stock for continued plant operations.

During the 2015 financial year under review, Aureus Mining has continued to build on the work of previous years and completed the construction and commissioning of the New Liberty gold mine, the first commercial gold mine in the Republic of Liberia.

Overcoming challenges as first commercial production declared

During the Ebola virus outbreak early in 2015, civil construction and mining operations progressed at New Liberty with blasting operations commencing during January 2015.

A significant milestone for the project was achieved at the end of May 2015, with first gold being poured, in line with the project schedule. Following the first gold pour, work continued on the commissioning of the process plant including the final commissioning of CIL tanks and the installation of the Vertimill.

During July 2015, the plant passed a 24-hour performance test and reached its name-plate capacity, with the first shipment of gold doré being transported from New Liberty to MKS PAMP in Switzerland for refining.

[quote]During the period between the plant reaching nameplate capacity in mid-July 2015 and the end of August 2015, there were a further three gold doré shipments from New Liberty, whilst plant commissioning activities continued to progress towards commercial production levels.

Aureus Mining experienced unexpected commissioning issues and equipment failures within the process plant during the latter stages of 2015, resulting in gold production of 17 172 oz during 2015.

Optimisation activities continued to focus upon improving plant performance, in particular within the gravity and CIL circuits of the process plant, to within its original design specifications during late 2015 and early 2016, and resulted in improvements in overall gold recovery levels throughout January and February 2016.

As a direct result of the operational improvements made within the process plant, gold recovery levels steadily increased from approximately 73% in mid-January 2016 to reach a stable level of 90% by the end of February 2016.

Gold production was in excess of 9 000 oz during the month of February 2016, and gold recovery levels continuing to remain in excess of 90% throughout operations during March.

Financial highlights

  • Year-end cash of US$ 7.1 million;
  • Revenues of $ 19.2 million from gold sales of 17 172 oz capitalised as pre-production revenue;
  • Capital additions of $ 77 million to New Liberty offset by an impairment charge of $ 50.4 million based on reduced gold price assumption;
  • Carrying value of New Liberty $ 221 million;
  • Equity of $ 28.1 million raised and $ 30 million of debt drawn during the financial year; and
  • Post year end, negotiations continue with the company’s lenders with regards to its future debt repayment schedule.