The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Fort Knox off to a good start in 2023

Higher mill grades offset some of seasonal heap leach lows North of 60 Mining News - May 12, 2023

Kinross Gold Corp. May 9 reported that its Fort Knox Mine in Alaska produced 65,404 ounces of gold during the first quarter of 2023, which is a 33% drop from the 87,061 oz produced during the previous three-month period but nearly 19% higher than the 54,803 oz produced during the first quarter of 2022.

Due to the effects of cold weather on recoveries from the heap leach pad, a drop in gold production during the first quarter is an annual event at Fort Knox. As the weather warms and heap leach recoveries improve, gold production increases at the Interior Alaska mine.

The higher first-quarter gold production, when compared to the first three months of 2022, is primarily due to higher-grade ore fed into the mill, resulting in a larger contribution from that side of the operation.

During the first quarter of this year, the Kinross Alaska mill at Fort Knox processed 1.97 million metric tons of ore averaging 0.78 grams per metric ton gold, compared to 1.85 million metric tons averaging 0.66 g/t gold during the same period of 2022.

Crews, however, only stacked 5.97 million metric tons of ore averaging 0.22 g/t gold on the Barnes Creek heap leach pad at Fort Knox during the first three months of this year, which is less than half the 13.01 million metric tons averaging 0.17 g/t gold during the same period last year.

The per-ounce cost of Fort Knox gold sold during the first quarter of this year was US$1,186, only slightly higher than the 1,173/oz production cost of sales during the previous quarter and about 7% lower than the US$1,276/oz cost during the same period last year.

Manh Choh on track

Kinross also reports that its Manh Choh mine project in Alaska remains on track for first gold production in the second half of 2024.

Being developed under a joint venture between Kinross (70%) and Contango ORE Inc. (30%), Manh Choh is a high-grade gold mine project about 250 highway miles southeast of Fort Knox.

A feasibility study completed in 2022 details plans for trucking high-grade ore mined at Manh Choh to Fort Knox for processing through the Kinross Alaska mill.

Over an initial 4.5 years of mining, Manh Choh is expected to produce roughly 1 million gold-equivalent oz, which includes the value of both the gold and silver recovered.

This operation is based on 3.9 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 7.88 grams per metric ton (998,000 oz) gold and 13.6 g/t (1.7 million oz) silver.

The grade of these reserves is an order of magnitude higher than the ore currently being fed into the Kinross Alaska mill. As a result, gold production at Fort Knox is expected to jump to 400,000 oz per year for the currently anticipated 4.5 years of mining at Manh Choh.

A 176-man camp in Tok, an Alaska crossroads town about 40 miles from the Peak Gold deposits hosting the reserves, is operational and being managed by an Alaska-based firm.

To keep on track for operations to begin next year, Kinross says it has ordered parts and equipment that have long lead times for both the Manh Choh Mine and to modify the Fort Knox mill in preparation for the new source of ore.

With the public comment period for the permits needed to begin mining at Manh Choh successfully completed and the overall permitting process on schedule, Kinross is ramping up construction at this Fort Knox satellite mine.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

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Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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