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The champagne corks are likely to be popping at the offices of Aureus Mining (LON:AUE) following the first gold pour at its New Liberty project.
The company said that first gold has been poured from the New Liberty process plant in the Republic of Liberia on schedule.
The hot and cold commissioning phases of the project remain on track, with the company planning to ramp-up in stages the plant feed to the 95,000 tonnes of ore per month specified in the design specification.
Aureus said all civil works and the steel erection at the plant sire have now been completed, while phase one of the tailings storage facility penstock line has also been completed; the latter should provide sufficient storage for 18 months of operations.
David Reading, president and chief executive officer of Aureus, said the gold pour was a milestone, both for Aureus and the Republic of Liberia.
“Aureus has taken New Liberty through feasibility, development and now into production as Liberia's first commercial gold mine. The building of New Liberty is a credit to the whole team at Aureus, and to the crucial support given by both the local communities and the national government, without which this Project would not have been possible," Reading said.
Broker finnCap retained its 'buy' recommendation and 40p price target, noting that the New Liberty mine has a reserve of 8.5mln tonnes grading at 3.4 grams per tonne gold, containing 924,000 ounces of gold.
Meanwhile, Charlie Long at Sanlam Securities said the project is “effectively complete, in production and ramping-up over the next six weeks or so”.
"The shares have performed well since we initiated in February (up 45%) and should continue to do well as full scale production approaches,” Long said.
Numis was also keen to offer its congratulations to Aureus.
“We believe this is a monumental day for Aureus and significant milestone for the New Liberty project, which Aureus has taken through feasibility to first gold with strong community and government support,” the broker said.
“After lots of hard work and overcoming challenges such as Ebola, Aureus has successfully brought the first commercial gold mine in the country into production, aiming to produce an average of c.120koz pa over the first six years. With Liberia now declared Ebola free, and the project further de-risked with the first pour of yellow metal, we should see the shares re-rate as Aureus joins the ranks of producer,” the broker predicted.
Shares in Aureus were unchanged at 40p in lunch-time trading.