The renowned Obuasi gold mine, in Ghana, is back in action with AngloGold Ashanti confirming the redeveloped asset has poured first gold, five years since mining activities were suspended.
This achievement signals the successful redevelopment of the mine into a “modern, mechanised mining operation”, the company said.
The Obuasi Redevelopment project, which seeks to access Obuasi’s 30 Moz orebody over the next two decades and beyond, has completed the first phase of construction on time and on budget. Refurbishment of an existing plant and construction of new infrastructure and underground development, in line with a new mine plan, has taken place over the last 18 months.
AngloGold Ashanti Chief Executive Officer, Kelvin Dushnisky, said producing first gold on budget and on a tight schedule was a “significant achievement” for the company, the community of Obuasi and Ghana as a whole.
“Restarting this important mine is testament to the focused execution by our team on the ground, as well as the clear investment framework and supportive environment created by the President of Ghana and his government, and the King of Ashanti,” he said.
Following a ramp-up period, AngloGold Ashanti estimates mining at a rate of 2,000 t/d from Obuasi during 2020, climbing to 4,000 t/d by year-end. The mine will be producing gold at an average run-rate of 350,000-400,000 oz/y for the first 10 years, and above 400,000 oz over the life of mine at all-in sustaining costs of around $800/oz, according to the company.
Graham Ehm, AngloGold Ashanti’s Executive Vice President of Group Planning and Technical, who is overseeing the project, said: “The team has done an excellent job completing the first phase of this project and will be focused on ramping up production through next year.
“The difficult decision was made to suspend production in 2014 to rebuild the mine’s foundation for a sustainable long-term future that will bring benefit to the region over the coming decades. We are tremendously proud of what has been achieved since then.”
The underground mine development is ongoing, with deepening of the Obuasi Deeps Decline and access to the KRS shaft on schedule for mid-2020. The construction of new plant and infrastructure will continue in 2020. The initial project capital for Obuasi remains in the range of $495-$545 million, spent between 2018 to the end of 2020.
AngloGold Ashanti says it is working closely with government and community stakeholders to ensure that the Obuasi mine is developed sustainably, fuelling growth for Ghana and benefitting the communities around the mine. A committee, including local stakeholders and regulators, has been created to track execution of the reclamation of the mine site and the mine will also be contributing $2/oz of gold produced to a Community Trust Fund, over its life, to facilitate development projects in the local area.
Some 80% of the capital thus far has been spent in-country, according to the Managing Director of the Obuasi Mine, Eric Asubonteng. “Ghanaian companies have been given preference in the procurement of goods and services, from the large-value underground mining contract all the way to catering and security contracts,” the company said.
Employment has also prioritised Ghanaians from the immediate area around the mine wherever possible, with Ghanaians from elsewhere in the country next in line for recruitment in available roles.