Gold miner Acacia Mining on Monday reported gold production of 104 889 oz for the first quarter of this year, a 13% year-on-year decrease mainly as a result of lower output at the North Mara and Buzwagi mines.
Gold ounces sold for the quarter, at 104 985 oz, were, however, in line with production.
Production in the first quarter was impacted on by unanticipated production issues at North Mara, in Tanzania, which produced 66 324 oz of gold for the quarter – a 14% year-on-year decrease. The lower output was mainly driven by the consequence of a fall of ground in the Gokona underground mine, in December, as well as an excavator breakdown in the Nyabirama openpit.
The fall of ground at Gokona prevented access in the quarter to two higher-grade stopes in the East, impacting mine sequencing and, ultimately, head grade which, at 3 g/t, was 19% lower year-on-year and below expectations for the quarter.
The miner has since taken steps to address the issues at North Mara, including through the introduction of a revised mining plan in mid-March for both the underground and openpit mines.
Meanwhile, the Buzwagi mine produced 28 577 oz for the quarter – 20% lower year-on-year but in line with expectations as a result of the mine having fully transitioned to a lower-grade stockpile processing operation.
The Bulyanhulu mine, however, produced 9 999 oz of gold for the quarter – a 17% year-on-year increase and in line with expectations, owing to the higher grades recovered from the retreatment of tailings, as well as improvements in plant throughput.
All production continued to be produced from the retreatment of tailings as a result of the mine being placed on reduced operations in late 2017.
Meanwhile, the miner said its cash balance as at March 31, stood at about $99-million, representing a decrease of net cash of about $17-million during the quarter, primarily as a result of the lower production.
Throughout the quarter, Acacia continued to engage with and provide support to its parent company Barrick Gold in its direct negotiations with the government of Tanzania. The miner anticipates receiving a detailed proposal for a comprehensive resolution of its disputes with the government once Barrick’s negotiations have been concluded.
Despite the challenges, Acacia remains confident that it will deliver against its full year production guidance of between 500 000 oz and 550 000 oz, interim CEO Peter Geleta said in a statement.