Gold Fields delays first gold at Salares Norte

While it first estimated the start of gold in early 2023, Gold Fields has again confirmed a delay in the first production at its Salares Norte project in Chile, citing delays in pre-commissioning and commissioning activities.

The Johannesburg company said it is now eyeing April 2024 for first gold, and it has already adjusted its whole-year volumes down to between 220,000-250,000 gold equivalent ounces.

“Monthly steady state production is expected to be reached by the beginning of 2025, and therefore planned production volumes for 2025 and 2026 are not expected to be affected and remain unchanged at 600,000 gold-equivalent ounces each year,” the company said.

Mechanical construction at the project in the Atacama region is now 99.3% complete, and mining has continued as planned with more than 87.2 million tonnes of waste moved and 2.3 million ore tonnes and 520,000 gold-equivalent ounces stockpiled to date.

The company most recently had planned first gold last month, but pushed due to a number of issues, including rework required on critical safety aspects relating to the cyanide circuit and other reagent circuits; personnel availability for the primary contractor at the project; and late configuration changes requested by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to the equipment control logic implemented in the plant control system. It was then exacerbated, it added, by limited availability of OEM vendors and sub-vendors.

The changes have since been implemented for the comminution, leaching, counter-current decantation and tailings filtration unit processes, and Gold Fields is appointing an independent project and commissioning specialist to review and validate the remaining schedule to full commissioning.

Gold Fields has eight operating mines in Australia, South Africa, Ghana and Peru and two projects in Canada and Chile, including Salares Norte.

Source: Gold Fields

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