Peak Mines achieved gold production guidance and confirmed two new discoveries in 2015, continuing a long history of strong production and exploration success.
Peak Mines is a gold and copper underground mining operation located in the Cobar Mineral Field, near Cobar, in New South Wales, Australia. Peak Mines comprises four mines and a gold-copper processing plant. The deposits include Perseverance, Peak, Chesney and New Cobar.
The Peak Mines’ 2015 gold production was within its guidance range for the full year, but it was below prior-year production, as expected, primarily due to a 6 percent decrease in tonnes milled.
After the mine experienced geotechnical challenges in the first quarter, the team continued to deliver steady quarter-over-quarter production increases, with fourth quarter production the highest of the year.
2015 copper production of 14 million pounds was also below the prior year due to the combined impact of lower ore tonnes, copper grade and recovery. Full-year copper production was slightly below the mine’s guidance range of 15 to 17 million pounds.
For 2015, total cash costs, net of by-product sales, were $791 per ounce of gold, compared to $658 per ounce in the prior year. All-in sustaining costs were $1,071 per ounce, compared to $1,025 for the prior year. Cash costs and all-in sustaining costs were impacted by lower copper by-product revenue and lower gold sales volumes, partially offset by the depreciation of the Australian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar.
For 2016, gold production is expected to remain in line with 2015. Copper production is expected to decrease since the mine plan intentionally focuses on mining more gold-rich ore bodies. Our strategy is to optimize the gold-copper production mix to maximize cash flow for 2017. Total cash costs are expected to be $800 to $840 per ounce and all-in sustaining costs $1,020 to $1,060 per ounce of gold.
Exploration crews continued their long track record of success in 2015. Discoveries included: the Chronos discovery, a system of high-grade gold-copper and lead-zinc-silver lenses extending above the top of the Perseverance ore body; and the Anjea discovery, a system of copper-gold and lead-zinc-silver lenses located immediately south of the historic Great Cobar mine. Reconnaissance drilling also identified several early-stage targets along the mine corridor. The 2016 exploration program involves delineating resource status to inferred status at Chronos and Anjea and drilling to test the newly identified targets along the mine corridor.
Since Peak Mines began production in 1992, it has had a remarkable record of exploration success that has continually extended its mine life.