VANCOUVER — Quarterly gold production at SSR Mining Inc.’s Nevada mine rose in the fourth quarter of 2017, the company reported in results released mid-January. Overall, SSR met or exceeded its initial guidance for the sixth consecutive year.
At the open pit heap leach Marigold mine in Valmy, gold production in the fourth quarter of 2017 totaled 52,768 ounces, 36 percent higher than the previous quarter. Gold sales totaled 51,420 ounces for the quarter. For the year, total gold production decreased 1.4 percent, and sales were down 2 percent compared to 2016.
Material mined during the year totaled 69 million tons, 8 percent lower compared to the record tonnage moved in 2016, due to adverse weather conditions in the first quarter of 2017 and a lower mining rate in the fourth quarter as discussed below. The mine achieved a record 25.6 million tons of ore stacked on leach pads in 2017.
A total of 14 million tons of material were mined in the fourth quarter, down 31 percent from the third quarter due to planned maintenance of the rope shovel, and operational shutdowns and interruptions resulting from the fatal incident in October.
The operation focused on addressing the leaching constraints related to clay ore encountered in the second half of the year.
Multiple actions were implemented resulting in improvement of the leach pad operation over the last three months of the year. A combination of ore blending, adding surfactants to reduce ponding and improving ripping practices have allowed solution application rates to return to normal and recovery rates to expected levels. This was reflected in the increased gold production in the fourth quarter.
Approximately 5.8 million tons of ore were delivered to the heap leach pads at a gold grade of 0.37 grams per ton in the fourth quarter. This compares to 7.2 million tons of ore delivered to the leach pads at a gold grade of 0.31 grams per ton in the third quarter. Gold grade mined in the fourth quarter was 19 percent higher than the third quarter due to mining deeper in the current phase of the Mackay pit. The strip ratio declined to 1.4:1 in the quarter, a 22 percent reduction compared to the previous quarter.
SSR also operates mines at Seabee in Canada and Puna in Argentina.
Total production for the company was 202,240 ounces of gold in 2017. This compares to 205,116 ounces of gold produced in 2016. Gold sales were 200,192 ounces for the year.
“These results are driven by our teams and their continued focus on Operational Excellence to optimize our operations,” said Paul Benson, SSR president and CEO.” In the year ahead, we are positioning the company to grow production as Seabee ramps up and the Chinchillas deposit comes on-line in Argentina. Importantly, our exceptionally strong balance sheet enables us to increase our investment in brownfields exploration at both Marigold and Seabee.”