TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - IAMGOLD Corporation ("IAMGOLD" or the "Company") today announced a mineral resource update for its Côté Gold project in northern Ontario along with the Company's production results for 2012 and guidance for 2013.
The vast majority of the Côté Gold mineral resources are now classified as Indicated. The updated resource estimate represents a 114% increase in Indicated Resources from the previous estimate.
Strong fourth quarter 2012 gold production of 214,000 attributable ounces brings total year attributable gold production to 830,000 ounces;
An expectation that average total cash costs (including royalties) per ounce for 2012 will be around ± 3% of the upper end of the previously provided guidance range of $670 to $695 an ounce;
2013 gold production is expected to range between 875,000 and 950,000 attributable ounces, with total cash costs (including royalties) between $850 and $925 an ounce;
Gold production forecast to grow approximately 80% over the next five years to 1.4-1.6 million ounces by 2017;
Niobium production of 4.7 million kilograms for 2012;
Niobium production for 2013 is expected to range between 4.7 and 5.1 million kilograms at a margin of between $15 and $17 a kilogram;
The conflict in Mali has not disrupted production at the Company`s joint venture operations, but exploration activity has been reduced as a precaution.
IAMGOLD's President and CEO, Steve Letwin said, "The resource update for Côté Gold demonstrates significantly higher confidence in both the geological and gold grade continuity of the deposit and reaffirms our decision to acquire this project.
"Our gold production in the fourth quarter was the strongest this year", continued Mr. Letwin, "enabling us to finish 2012 near the lower end of our guidance. While performance at our IAMGOLD operated mines has been solid, the underperformance at Sadiola has led us to re-assess our strategy with respect to our joint venture operations. Over the next five years, the combination of growth initiatives at our existing mines, the ramp-up to full production at Westwood and the expected start-up of Côté Gold in 2017 should drive production up 80% to 1.4-1.6 million ounces."
CÔTÉ GOLD MINERAL RESOURCE UPDATE
The mineral resource estimate for Côté Gold was prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 and incorporates assay results from an additional 85 drill holes (47,325 metres) since the October 4, 2012 estimate. The new Côté Gold resource estimate consists of an Indicated Resource of 269 million tonnes averaging 0.88 grams of gold per tonne for 7.61 million ounces and an Inferred Resource of 44 million tonnes averaging 0.74 grams of gold per tonne for 1.04 million ounces. The updated resource estimate, based on a cut-off grade of 0.30 grams of gold per tonne, represents a 114% increase in Indicated Resources from the previous estimate, also based on a cut-off grade of 0.30 grams of gold per tonne. The updated Côté Gold resource estimate benefited from the infill drilling that substantially upgraded the quality of the estimate through conversion of Inferred Resources to Indicated Resources.
A positive attribute of the Côté Gold deposit is its accessibility for open-pit mining. The deposit locally outcrops at surface and, based on the extensive drilling program to date, the depth of the barren overburden averages 5.8 metres.
The mineral resource estimate was carried out by Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. ("RPA") and reported in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 requirements and CIM Estimation Best Practice Guidelines. The resource estimate was prepared by RPA Associate Principal Geologist Jamie Lavigne, P.Geo. with geostatistical input and verification provided by Mohan Srivastava, P.Geo., a consultant with IAMGOLD.
The table below presents the mineral resource at the 0.30 grams of gold per tonne cut-off as well as at several additional cut-off grades for comparison purposes.
The effective date of this resource estimate is December 31, 2012 and includes all validated drill results available as at December 31, 2012.This estimate is based on assay results from a total of 293 diamond drill holes (158,047 metres). Since the completion of the October 4, 2012 estimate, which was based on 208 diamond drill holes (110,722 metres), a further 85 diamond drill holes (47,325 metres) were available and validated as at December 31, 2012. Mineralized wireframes were interpreted and used to constrain grade interpolation by ordinary kriging.
2012 GOLD PRODUCTION
Attributable gold production for the fourth quarter 2012 was 214,000 ounces, bringing production for the full year 2012 to 830,000 ounces. Full year production was slightly below the lower end of the guidance range of 840,000 to 910,000 ounces primarily due to the Company's underperforming joint venture operations. The Company expects that average total cash costs (including royalties) per ounce will be around ± 3% of the upper end of the previously provided guidance range of $670 to $695 an ounce.
2012 NIOBIUM PRODUCTION
In 2012, IAMGOLD produced 4.7 million kilograms of niobium at an average margin of $15 per kilogram, which was within the guidance range of 4.6-5.1 million kilograms at an average margin of between $15 and $17 a kilogram.
PRODUCTION AND CASH COST GUIDANCE
Gold Production and Cash Costs
The Company confirms its previously announced gold production guidance of 875,000 to 950,000 attributable ounces for 2013. As in the past, production is expected to vary from quarter to quarter as a result of such factors as the rainy season in Suriname in the second quarter and the ramp-up in production at Westwood throughout 2013.
With the Westwood processing facility on track to begin gold production by the end of March, and development studies and permitting at Côté Gold expected to be completed in 2014 followed by a construction start the following year, the Company confirms its five-year production guidance with gold production expected to grow by approximately 80% to 1.4 to 1.6 million ounces by 2017.
At the Company's joint venture operations in Mali, which underperformed in 2012, the recent escalation of conflict in the country has not disrupted production nor has there been any interruption in supply chains. Although it is business as usual at the Sadiola and Yatela mines operated by the Company's joint venture partner and which are approximately 1,300 kilometres by road from the regions of conflict, the Company is reducing its exploration activity in the region at this time as a precautionary measure.
Total cash costs, including royalties, for 2013 are expected to increase to a range of between $850 and $925 an ounce. Approximately one third of the increase in cash costs per ounce is attributed to inflation while another third reflects the impact of lower ore grades on production costs. The balance of the expected year-over-year increase is due to both the transition to harder ore at the Company's mature mines and the higher unit costs at Westwood attributed to lower production in its first year of operation. The growing proportion of harder ore drives up stripping ratios and labour costs and exerts a greater demand on crushing and grinding capacity, which in turn increases energy consumption and the use of reagents.
Continued Mr. Letwin, "The lower grades of ore, combined with the energy- and labour-intensive nature of low-grade deposits, present a cost challenge in our industry. Whether existing projects or future developments, we have to explore more innovative ways of curbing cost escalation, and that applies to operating costs and capital expenditures. Sustaining operational excellence is key, so the one thing we're changing is the way we benchmark our performance. This has to be an ongoing process and not a quarterly event. In the ensuing months we plan to adopt a more broad-based measure of operating efficiency, and to refine those same cost elements, such as sustaining capital and general and administrative costs, for inclusion in the calculation of expected rates of return on our projects."
SOURCE IAMGOLD Corporation