Tier 1 gold miner, Australian headquartered Lihir Gold Limited, has again reported record gold production for the third successive year. The 2008 figure totalled 882,000 ounces a big 26 percent increase on the 2007 figure. It also substantially beat the company's previously announced target of 850,000 ounces. Key was the December quarter when 315,000 ounces of gold were produced. The current year's target is to top the one million ounce production figure.
What is even more encouraging for the company was that as gold production increases, cash costs are seen to be coming down. Overall cash costs for the year were $400 an ounce, which in itself puts the company among the lower cost major gold producers, but in the record December quarter costs came down to only $353 an ounce.
The flagship Lihir Island mining operation is obviously key to the company's output which, with most of the operational improvements now in place managed a fourth quarter output figure of 247,000 ounces and full year's production of 771,000 ounces.
The acquisition of Equigold NL, completed in June, also contributed to LGL's record production for the year, with the Mt Rawdon, Bonikro and Kirkalocka gold mines joining the group. Together these mines contributed 100,000 ounces to LGL's production since June.
Managing Director Arthur Hood said LGL is now established as a global gold producer, with improved operational reliability and an exciting growth profile from a diversified portfolio of high quality assets.. The Equigold merger has enabled us to significantly diversify our revenue and production sources. In the fourth quarter some 22% of group gold output came from our Australian and Ivory Coast operations.
In 2009 LGL has forecast another year of record gold output from Lihir Island at between 770,000 and 840,000 ounces, approximately 130,000 - 160,000 ounces from Bonikro in the Cote d'Ivoire as it delivers its first full year of production, 90,000 - 100,000 ounces from Mt Rawdon in Australia; and 50,000 - 100,000 ounces from Ballarat as problems here are overcome - itself a massive increase from the past year's rather dismal 10,000 ounces! Total cash costs are expected to fall to less than US$400 per ounce for the full year.
2008 has been a great year for LGL. We've built on the world-class Lihir Island deposit to create a major, diversified gold producer with four operating mines spanning three countries, and a very strong growth outlook, Mr Hood said.