THE Lihir gold mine in New Ireland province produced about 76% of Lihir Gold Ltd group’s fourth successive production of 1.12 million ounces last year.
The result exceeding one million ounces is the first in the company’s history.
The LGL group’s 1.12 million oz was up 27% from 2008 and in line with market guidance. Output rose to 278,000oz in the final quarter, an increase of 19% from the preceding three month period.
Lihir produced a record 853,000oz last year, up from 771,000oz in 2008 and in excess of the 770,000-840,000oz forecast for the year.
Lihir has forecast a drop of up to 14% in in full year production this year but says expansion will see annual production rise again in 2012.
The gold miner met market expectations with annual production in 2009 of 1.12 million ounces, 27% higher than the previous year.
December quarter production was 278,291 ounces of gold, 19% higher than the preceding quarter.
“The strong result from Lihir Island confirms the enhanced reliability of the operation following the various improvements we carried out over recent years,” Phil Baker, LGL’s acting executive officer, said when the company released its specific guidance on its production targets for this year and last year’s fourth quarter production report last Friday.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Bonikro mine produced 150,000oz in its first full year of production, within the guidance range of 130,000oz to160,000oz.
Strong progress was made in the feasibility study examining the potential to develop new deposits at Hiré, about 10km from Bonikro, and regional exploration activities continued to generate encouraging results.
At Mt Rawdon, in Queensland, gold production reached 108,000oz above the 90,000oz-100,000oz forecast for the year.
This year, Bonikro is forecast to produce 110,000oz to 130,000oz and Mt Rawdon 80,000oz to 90,000oz.
Total cash costs forecast to be below US$450 (K1,216) per ounce.
The company will release its 2009 full year financial results on Feb 18.
In a statement, LGL said it maintained its track record as one of the world’s low-cost producers with total cash costs for the year of US$397 (K1,073) per ounce.
Fourth quarter total cash costs were US$454 (K1,227) per ounce, down from US$487 (K1,316) per ounce in the September quarter.
This year’s output from LGL’s three producing operations is expected between 960,000oz to 1.06 million ounces.
Group production is forecast to rise to 1.3 million ounces in 2012 as expansion projects lift output at Lihir Island and Bonikro.