Firefinch’s plan to ramp-up gold production at its Morila mine in Mali has entered its second stage with commissioning of the comminution circuit.

This is being carried out using feed from Firefinch (ASX:FFX)’s Morila Pit 5 (just one of four satellite pits at the project) as well as stockpiles. The transition from tailings reprocessing to producing gold from open pit mining is a significant milestone in the company’s strategy to rapidly scale production, from about 50,000oz of gold in 2021 to about 120,000oz in 2022.

“It was only last week that I expressed our excitement about commencing mining operations at Morila Pit 5. Now the team are commissioning the comminution circuit, and Morila Pit 5 ore will be fed today,” managing director Dr Mike Anderson said.

Truck direct loading to the oxide circuit dump pocket during commissioning. Pic: Supplied

Mining activity

Commissioning of the oxide circuit started on 15 May following a period of refurbishment whereby just US$2.5m was spent to refurbish all components of the plant for operation, including key steel structures in the comminution circuit, crushers and screens, plus upgrades to the dump pocket structures, embankment stabilisation and drainage.

The comminution circuit ramped up well with 20 hours of overall circuit run time by the third day of commissioning. Ball mill run time was 21.2 hours, and processing was at an annualised rate of 2.4 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) for the 24-hour period.

Direct tipping of Morila Pit 5 feed commenced on 19 May and the company noted the oxide circuit will be ramped up to about 3Mtpa in the coming days.

Morila gold mine

Firefinch acquired the 2.2moz Morila gold mine in southwest Mali for $US29.7m, or less than US$15/oz, turning the company into a gold producer from day zero.

However, the company was not content to just simply have gold production and immediately embarked on plans to ramp up production.

The goal of achieving 120,000oz production in 2022 is just the start with plans to increase this further to 170,000z of gold in 2023 and from there to 200,000oz in 2024.

It also plans to carry out exploration on its 685sqkm tenure, which looks to be a very well-endowed, but lightly explored, mineralised belt.

Prior to Firefinch’s entry, the high-grade Moriila open pit was operated very successfully between 2000-2009 by Barrick Gold and AngloGold Ashanti, producing up to 1 million ounces a year.

Mining stopped in 2009, but operations continued by treating stockpiles, a little bit of satellite mining and then – more recently – tailings retreatment.

This article was developed in collaboration with Firefinch, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.