Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Great Basin Gold gives operational updates on Hollister, Burnstone

Great Basin Gold (CVE:GBG) Wednesday provided an update on progress at its operations as well as exploration and drilling results for its Hollister project and Burnstone Mine.
The company said that operations and exploration results at Hollister - on the Carlin Trend in Nevada - "continue to deliver" as it set this year's production targets at 90,000 to 100,000 gold equivalent ounces at a cash cost of $700 to $750 per gold equivalent ounce.
At Burnstone in South Africa, "significant progress" has been made on a ramp-up in drilling since the end of December last year, with the water issues resolved and reef development rates achieving planned levels of 40 metres per month.
Burnstone is the first greenfield operation to come online in South Africa's Witwatersrand Basin in 30 years.
Great Basin Gold said that square metres available for stoping at the South African mine were up 71 percent to 12,356 square metres, with an additional 6,000 square metres partially developed.
Underground productivity has been improving through de-bottlenecking and infrastructure development, and Burnstone is expected to be cash flow positive - after capital investment - by early in the third-quarter of 2012.
Burnstone's production targets for the coming year are 90,000 to 100,000 ounces gold at a cash cost of $900 to $1,000 per ounce, Great Basin Gold said.
"With improvements, both made and planned, to underground infrastructure at Burnstone, the build-up is proceeding well to reach our milestone of 1,500 ore development meters per month in Q2 2012 and our interim production milestone of 10,000 ounces per month in early Q3 2012," said the company's president and chief executive Ferdi Dippenaar.
"This will lay the foundation for the project to achieve its potential optimal production rates of 220,000 to 250,000 ounces gold per annum, and including Hollister, for the company to achieve 320,000 to 350,000 gold equivalent ounces in total production per annum."
Dippenaar continued: "The exploration results for Burnstone, and even more so Hollister, underscore the highly prospective nature of the two ore bodies.
"Although exploration expenditure was cut back in 2011 to ensure that cash flow was directed at our Burnstone Mine development, more exploration is planned at Hollister, and later also at Esmeralda, as cash resources become available.
"We understand the faulting and flooding at Burnstone and have plans in place to deal with them, including temporary water handling, which should see a significant improvement to performance in 2012."
At Hollister in Nevada, operations continue to deliver results from trial mining activities in line with the previously announced production targets, the company said.
Additional emphasis on ore development is improving mining flexibility with the availability of additional stopes, allowing for improved grade blending of extracted ore and more consistent performance on a monthly basis, it added.
The good operational performance from the Nevada operations is expected to continue in 2012, Great Basin said.
Highlights include drilling results from the SE Gwenivere target at Hollister, Upper Level drilling, and Upper Level mine infrastructure plans, as well as advances in the geothermal system mapping and planned drilling for 2012.
Great Basin Gold said that the 2011 mineral resource update for Hollister has been delayed due to QAQC issues with silver analyses over the period from July 2010 to June 2011.
It is anticipated that the resource estimate will be completed before the end of the first quarter of 2012, and made available during the second quarter.
Meanwhile in South Africa, Burnstone "continues to make progress" towards resolving certain issues that have restrained the planned production build-up.
Underground flooding experienced in the latter part of 2011 and early 2012 had an impact on the advancement of development. This issue has been resolved, the company said, following the upgrading of the temporary water handling system.
Additional pumps and back-up pump columns are providing additional capacity to not only reticulate the water, but also to transport service water to all working ends, which will improve rates of development and stoping.
Reef development ends have increased from 32 in December 2011 to 38 by the end of February 2012.
At Burnstone, drilling strategies are improving the modeling of structures that, in certain areas, displace the Kimberley Reef horizon. Channel sampling continues to underpin positive grade and channel width trends in the mine development.
Underground exploration and stope delineation drilling has continued during the latter half of 2011 and in January 2012. In total, 89 boreholes for 26,304 feet (7,971 metres) have been completed, Great Basin Gold said.
Infill drilling from surface at Burnstone is being undertaken, with results in-line with or better than mine development expectations, the company said.
Great Basin Gold has also received notification from Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI) that it intends to seek rescission of an agreement under which Gold Fields cancelled a two percent net smelter royalty over a majority of Area 1 at the Burnstone mine.
Under that transaction, Gold Fields cancelled the royalty for consideration of 80 million rand - $11 million - on the condition that Gold Fields should receive certain Mining Charter score card credits from the South African government.
As Gold Fields has not received these credits, the company and Gold Fields are seeking a "mutually acceptable outcome" and management does not expect this issue to have an impact on the company's near-term cashflow, development or production targets, it said.
Great Basin Gold is an international mining company with two emerging mines in the world’s richest gold regions: the Hollister Mine on the Carlin Trend in Nevada and the Burnstone Mine in the Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa.

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