Endeavour Mining Corp (TSE:EDV), the West Africa-focused gold miner, reported excellent progress at its Ity CIL project in the Ivory Coast, where the first gold pour is expected ahead of schedule in the early second quarter this year.
When fully commissioned, the project will become, after the Hounde mine in Burkina Faso, the group's second flagship mine.
READ: Endeavour Mining beats output guidance for 2018, thanks to strong performance across its mines
Endeavour revealed that wet commissioning had started, namely starting up the pumps and pipes and introducing water to check everything works, in preparation for production.
Ore is expected to be introduced into the process plant milling circuit in the coming days, the group said.
"We are proud of the key milestones achieved in recent months as the project construction has been significantly de-risked. We are excited to have commenced the commissioning phase several months ahead of the initial schedule and look forward to the first gold pour in early Q2-2019," said Sebastien de Montessus, the president and CEO of Endeavour.
de Montessus noted that production at Ity will be a transformative moment and marks the end of several years of large capital-intensive projects which will allow the group to focus on cash flow generation and generating returns.
The firm also has seven drill rigs operating in the Le Plaque area, which is expected to further demonstrate the potential of the project and lead to an updated resource estimate in the second quarter this year.
Two months ahead of schedule
Overall, the Ity project is now more than 97% complete, and around two months ahead of schedule. Operating teams are in place with training programs well underway.
Notably, the project remains on-budget with remaining cash spend for 2019 amounting to between $50 and $60 million.
The dry plant has also been successfully commissioned and the tailings storage facility construction is complete, the miner said.
Ity is expected to produce between 160 and 200,000 ounces in 2019 at an AISC (all-in-sustaining-cost) of between $525 and $590 per ounce.
The bottom-end production guidance corresponds to the nameplate capacity while the top-end factors possible upsides such as an earlier start date, a quicker than expected ramp-up and the plant producing above its nameplate.
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