THE processing of low-cost stope ore from the Belinau underground mine at the Tembang Gold-Silver Project in South Sumatra has been brought forward. Sumatra Copper & Gold has made the decision due to a shortfall of ore scheduled to be mined from Berenai open pit.

During dewatering of the former Berenai open pit, the pre-2007 survey of the pit surface was found to be inaccurate and appeared to include portions of backfilled and rilled material resulting in a shortfall of ore scheduled to be mined from Berenai during the March quarter.

While this issue only affected a small percentage of the overall ore reserve at the boundaries of the former pit and planned pit, it had a significant impact of approximately 3000 gold equivalent ounces in-situ on open pit production during the quarter as mine development advanced through this material.

To mitigate the open pit shortfall, Sumatra said the Belinau underground mine would commence the stoping panel from Level 9, instead of the planned Level 11, in order to bring forward low cost stope ore.

The revised mine plan will require a sill pillar below Level 9 and an extra sublevel to be developed during 2018, and will allow the recovery of approximately 90% of the sill pillar at the end of the Belinau mine life to minimise ore loss.

The company’s production guidance for 2017 remains unchanged at between 45,000 and 55,000 ounces gold equivalent. In 2016 the operation met the full year guidance with 30,509 gold equivalent ounces produced.

Meantime, the company completed the Security Purchase Plan (SPP) in which the company offered eligible holders of CHESS Depositary Interests (CDIs) the opportunity to subscribe for new CDIs, up to a maximum value of $15,000 per eligible CDI holder. The SPP raised proceeds of $241,000.

In early April the company announced it was in the process of drawing down the final US$1 million of its VAT facility. It had drawn down a total of US$3.2 million at the date.

The shortfall of ore from the Berenai pit and delays in the return of refined metal due to equipment issues at the PT Antam (Persero) refinery in Jakarta led to the company borrowing US$1 million from major shareholders, Provident Minerals and PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya, to fund working capital and interest payments.

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