Aim and JSE-listed gold mining company Pan African Resources increased gold production by 2% in the year ended June 30 to a record 205,459 ounces, beating its production forecast most recent upward revisions of 200,000 ounces.
Its Barberton Mines Fairview underground operations and Barberton Tailings Reprocessing Plant surface operations performed well during the reporting period, producing 47,985 oz and 19,560 oz, respectively.
The Fairview mine benefited from greater flexibility established at the high-grade Main Reef complex and Rossiter ore bodies.
Barberton’s Sheba and Consort underground juniors performed below expectations at 27,587 oz; with Pan African implementing improvement programs to ensure these assets deliver their full potential.
The Elikhulu tailings reprocessing operation processed tonnages with volumes and head grade above mine plan, which improved gold production levels compared to fiscal 2021.
Nevertheless, production levels were negatively impacted by unfavorable weather conditions and lower than expected recoveries.
Going forward, production is expected to improve as re-operation of the Leslie/Bracken tailings facility begins in fiscal 2023.
Pan African points out that Elikhulu remains one of the lowest cost gold mining operations in Southern Africa, with a remaining operational life of 11 years.
Evander’s Pillar 8 Shaft significantly exceeded its forecasted gold production for the reporting period, with a remaining life of just over a year.
The 24 Level project at this mine is currently in the construction phase, while the refrigeration plant is expected to be commissioned in August. Mining Level 24 ore will extend the production profile of underground mining at Shaft 8, following Shaft 8 pillar mining, for an additional two and a half years. This will be used to maintain underground gold production at Evander Mines.
In addition, Pan African is pursuing plans to mine the down dip extent of the Evander orebody at Levels 25 and 26 using Level 24 infrastructure, with a decline pattern on the reef.
Mining of Levels 25 and 26 demonstrates a “compelling” business case, according to Pan African, further extending production from Shaft 8 at Evander Mines, after mining halted at Pillar 8 Shaft and Level 24, for eight more years.
Here, production should be around 65,000 oz/y.
In addition, dewatering of the 25 level began during the reporting period, while blasting for development purposes will take place in fiscal year 2023. Operation of the first stope is scheduled for fiscal year 2025.
Pan-African CEO Loot Cobus says the band have made significant progress with their production growth plans at Evander Underground and Barberton’s Royal Sheba. “Both projects are on schedule to begin delivering within the planned production schedule.”
Together, these projects will increase the mine life from 8 pits to 13 years, with the potential for further increase if inferred mineral resources are converted to mineral reserves. The Evander Mines mining right is valid until 2038.
“A key area in the coming year will be small underground operations at Barberton, to ensure these assets operate to their full potential,” he says.
Other notable events in FY22 include the intersection of the Royal Sheba deposit on schedule, with the extraction of a 10,000t bulk sample underway; the commissioning of a 10 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in Evander; the first commercial harvest of the Barberton blueberry project and the start of construction work on a water treatment plant at the Evander mines, capable of recycling three million liters per day and producing drinking water.
Regarding the solar power plant, he says that Pan African plans to generate 30 MW of solar power by 2024, with commensurate cost savings of around R100 million or $6.1 million per year, and a sharp reduction in carbon emissions.
The miner also managed to reduce its senior debt by 71.5%, to $9.6 million, down from debt of $33.7 million in fiscal 2021.
Going forward, Pan African expects to maintain its gold production for fiscal year 2023 at around 200,000 ounces.