“Asante” or the “Company” is pleased to provide an update on its operations and corporate activities.
Operations Update – Bibiani Mine
The Bibiani process and mine facilities are operating on a 24 hour per day basis with throughput of approximately 3.0M tonnes per year. Completion of critical plant upgrades and other capital initiatives, as outlined below, are expected to enable material increases in throughput, gold recovery and production levels with a commensurate decrease in all-in sustaining costs per ounce in Q4 2023.
The Company continues to advance near-term funding initiatives to provide the required capital to achieve these initiatives.
Recent achievements and planned initiatives at Bibiani include:
• Exploration of near mine targets proved to be successful with the Grasshopper satellite pit coming into production in Q2 2023. At the South Russel deposit, a starter pit is planned to be developed during Q4 with delivery of mineralized material expected to occur by January 2024;
• The gravity plant was upgraded prior to start of production in July 2022 and continues operation achieving 25 – 35% gold recovery, as planned. The installation of a scalping screen is planned to increase gravity gold recovery by 5% with expected completion in late October 2023;
• The oxygen plant, installed on schedule, has been providing oxygen to the process plant from September 2023. Installation of a Mach-reactor to increase oxygen utilization will be completed this week;
• A pebble crusher has been ordered and will be installed in the coming months to increase process plant throughput capacity from 3.0 million to 3.4 million tonnes per year;
• The Sulphide Recovery Plant long lead items are expected to ship in September 2023. Construction of the plant is planned to be five months from the time of delivery to site. When in operation, the Sulphide Recovery Plant is expected to improve gold recovery to over 90%;
• Construction of the planned detour road is nearly complete allowing the highway to be cut and providing access to higher grade mineralized material from the main pit by early 2024; and
• Other cost saving and productivity improvement initiatives have started with implementation planned over the coming months.
For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2024, the Company expects production of approximately 80,000 to 90,000 ounces gold at Bibiani. Subject to receipt of the requisite funding and completion of capital projects as outlined above, Asante expects Bibiani to produce approximately 180,000 ounces of gold for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2025 with all-in sustaining costs of $1,325/oz. See footnote 1 below for assumptions.
Operations Update – Chirano Mine
The Chirano process and mine facilities are operating on a 24 hour per day basis at a current throughput of approximately 3.6M tonnes per year.
Recent achievements and planned initiatives at Chirano include:
• Gravity plant design, procurement and installation is advanced, with completion expected in October 2023 to increase gold recovery at Chirano by 5%;
• Oxygen addition to the CIL (carbon-in-leach) plant is proceeding and the oxygen plant is planned for installation prior to November 30, 2023;
• A pebble crusher was procured and installed on schedule in May 2023 increasing plant throughput from 3.4 million to 3.6 million tonnes per year;
• Further primary grinding upgrades are planned to be operational late this year to increase process plant throughput from 3.6 million to 4.0 million tonnes per year;
• Relocation of minor infrastructure and facilities planned to provide access to and expansion of the Akoti South open pit and the second cutback at the Sariehu open pit is progressing well;
• Mining from the Mamnao central and south pits is expected to be completed during Q3 2024. This production is expected to be replaced by Sariehu and Mamnao north pits. These initiatives would provide access to incremental resources and sustained gold production;
• Studies and associated initiatives are progressing on schedule to be finalized late 2024, with design to improve the current material handling systems and to deliver mineralized material to the process plant at lower cost;
• Initiatives to capture synergies to yield benefits related to the supply of principal consumable materials between the Bibiani and Chirano mines are being advanced with an overall objective of saving approximately $10 million per year;
• Other cost saving and productivity improvement initiatives have advanced, with results expected to be achieved later this year;
• Development of Obra, Suraw and the lower Tano underground mines have been accelerated facilitating earlier than planned underground mining at the Obra mine which supplements plant feed and has improved the grade from 1.2 g/t to 1.6 g/t for the year to date; and
• Exploration projects such as the Suraw mine, Obra mine and open pit mining life extension projects at the Sariehu/Mamnao area are progressing as planned to support a robust mining program and extend the mining life.
For the fiscal year ending January 31, 2024, the Company expects production of between 145,000 and 155,000 ounces of gold at Chirano. With the execution of the foregoing initiatives, the Company is projecting production of approximately 180,000 ounces of gold for the fiscal year ending January 31, 2025 at all-in sustaining costs of approximately $1,250/oz. See footnote 2 below for assumptions.
Corporate and Financing Update
The Company continues to focus on the execution of its near-term growth plans and financing initiatives, including discussions with potentially interested parties regarding strategic alternatives. Any proposals, if received, will be reviewed by the Company, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors.
The Company does not undertake any obligation to provide any updates with respect to any proposals, except as required under applicable law.
The Company is also pleased to report that Malik Easah has accepted the role of Executive Chairman. Mr. Easah was previously an Executive Director of the Company. Mr. Douglas MacQuarrie has stepped down from the Non-Executive Chairman role while remaining a non-executive Director of the Company.
The Board thanks Mr. MacQuarrie for his service.
The Company is also pleased to report that it has entered into an agreement (the “Agreement”) with a strategic financial institution (the “Purchaser”) for the forward sale of gold which will provide US$40 million of financing to the Company on a revolving basis over a two-year period. Under the Agreement, a subsidiary of the Company will deliver 4,000 ounces of refined gold per month to the Purchaser for 24 months, commencing in October 2023.
As an advance deposit (the “Deposit”) towards future gold deliveries, the Purchaser will pay the equivalent of US$40 million in local currency to a subsidiary of the Company shortly after execution of the Agreement. Deliveries will be credited against the Deposit and funds will be re-advanced, at the Company’s election, on each fifth monthly anniversary of execution of the Agreement.
The Company continues to pursue other near-term, non-dilutive financing initiatives to support capital investments and working capital requirements.
Dave Anthony, President and CEO of Asante, stated,
“It’s an exciting and busy time at Asante with several near-term catalysts on the horizon, most notably the completion of high-return capital projects that are expected to transform the production and cost profile at both of our operations. With the receipt of funding to backstop near-term liquidity requirements and other near-term financing initiatives well underway, we are confident in our ability to execute on our business plans.
On behalf of the Management Team, I would also like to thank Douglas MacQuarrie for his service to the Company as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board for the past 18 months. We are pleased that he has agreed to continue to serve as a Director of the Company and that Malik Easah has agreed to assume the role of Executive Chairman.”