African Barrick Expands Bulyanhulu Upper East Project

Bulyanhulu Upper East project section view.
African Barrick Gold has expanded the Upper East Project at its Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania to include parallel mining of two reefs (Reef 1 and Reef 2) and add 90,000 oz/y to gold production from the Bulyanhulu property. Bulyanhulu is a high-grade underground mine with reserves of 10.6 million oz at a grade of 11.7 g/mt gold and total resources of 16.9 million oz at a grade of 9.7 g/mt gold. The existing mine produced 262,000 oz of gold in 2011.

The Upper East Project is located at the eastern extension of the strike length of the mine, about 1.5 km east of the processing plant. The project will be developed as a stand-alone mining operation, separate from the existing mine, with distinct infra-structure, ventilation and personnel, but will deliver its ore to the current processing plant. In tandem with mine development, processing plant capacity will be expanded by 200,000 mt/y to about 1.4 million mt/y.

The Upper East project was previously based solely on 1.2 million oz of reserves grading 10.6 g/mt in Reef 1. The expanded project now includes an additional 900,000 oz of reserves at 9.7 g/mt in Reef 2. African Barrick expects to complete a combined fea-sibility study for parallel mining of the two reefs by the end of the first quarter of 2013, with production to begin in late 2014.

The Upper East zone was initially accessed in 2001 through a 1.8-km decline from the current mine’s ramping system. Due to low gold prices at that time, the area was not developed. Over the past 18 months, African Barrick has been dewa-tering and rehabilitating the decline for use in trucking ore to the surface, bypassing the shaft that serves the existing mine.

African Barrick’s board has approved ordering of some long-lead equipment to ensure that mining operations can begin at the Upper East Project once final board approval is received. All equipment ordered ahead of final board approval can also be utilized in the existing Bulyanhulu opera-tions. The commitment amounts to $4.3 million in 2012 and $6.5 million in 2013.

Once environmental approvals have been granted to open a box cut over the shallower portion of the Upper East zone, a second decline will be developed to open up the shallower reserves on Reefs 1 and 2. The box cut will allow for additional ventilation intake, improved access to the Upper East Reefs 1 and 2, and additional truck haulage.

Pre-production capital to develop the Bulyanhulu Upper East Project is estimated at $99 million. Life-of-mine gold produc-tion costs are expected to average $608/oz.

As featured in Womp 2012 Vol 11 -