Centamin Egypt Begins Mining at Sukari

Surface mining activity at the Sukari operation in Egypt’s eastern desert, the country’s first large scale,
modern gold mine. (Photo courtesy Centamin Egypt)
Centamin Egypt, an Australian company headquartered in Perth, reported in mid- February that it has initiated mining operations at its Sukari open-pit gold project in Egypt’s eastern desert, 30 km from the Red Sea. Ore is being stockpiled ahead of scheduled completion of the processing plant during the second quarter of 2009. At designed capacity, the plant will have a throughput rate of 4 million mt/y, and gold production is expected to total 200,000 oz/y over an initial mine life of 15 years. The life-of-mine strip ratio will be 4.8:1, waste-to-ore.

The Sukari mine will be the first largescale, modern gold mine in Egypt. Mining was started with an initial fleet of five Caterpillar 785C dump trucks and an O&K RH120E excavator. An additional five 785C trucks and a second RH120E excavator were scheduled for delivery before the end of February. Ore is being hauled to the run-of-mine pad next to the processing plant and either direct tipped to the crusher or stockpiled for future reclaim.

In a presentation at Mining Indaba in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 11, Centamin Managing Director and CEO Josef El-Raghy stated that proven and probable gold reserves at Sukari at a 0.5 g/mt cutoff currently stand at 3.7 million oz, while the total resource is estimated at 12.3 million oz. The orebody is open, and drilling continues, with eight rigs on site. Centamin purchased and dismantled the used Kori Kollo processing plant in Bolivia and shipped it to Egypt for reassembly and refurbishing at Sukari.

Sukari’s process water will be drawn from the Red Sea. The seawater will be pumped to the mine site to satisfy all process plant and mining requirements. Most of the seawater will be pumped into a raw water pond located near the processing plant, while around 500 m3/d will be pumped to a water treatment plant for potable and fresh water supplies. Power will be generated on site by a 28-MW power station operated on heavy fuel oil.

The Sukari deposits have good potential for future underground mining, and Centamin Egypt has engaged AMC Consultants Pty in Perth to conduct an underground mining study for the project.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 02 - www.womp-int.com