Opportunities For Wasa Underground Resource Identified
TORONTO - Andrew Wray, Chief Executive Officer of Golden Star Resources Ltd., reported, "Q1 2021 was a steady quarter with the mining rate at approximately 4,500tpd and the grade close to the reserve grade. The group cash position increased to $66.1m at the end of the quarter, as the operating cash flow together with $8.6m of net proceeds from the At The Market equity program during the quarter more than offset the payment of $13m of tax relating to Q4 2020 as well as the continued capital investment in the business. These funds will enable the continued investment in growth and exploration and also leave us well positioned to meet our obligations relating to the convertible debenture as they reach maturity in August 2021.
The highlight of the quarter was the release of the Wassa Technical Report that demonstrates a robust reserve mine plan followed by production set out in the PEA which identified the potential for significant growth of the Wassa operation to a rate of approximately 300koz each year. We look forward to updating the market on the infill drilling program and optimization studies as these progress. These initiatives will unlock the delivery of the Wassa expansion and identify further opportunities to improve the economics and lessen the environmental impact of the mine in the future.
Our 2021 guidance remains unchanged, production of 165-175koz is expected to be delivered at an AISC of $1,000-1,075/oz. That implies a slight increase in the quarterly production rate for the balance of 2021, which is expected to result from an increase in grades. This also assumes that the paste plant is fully commissioned over the next three months as we address some inconsistencies in paste strength results from the test stope. We continue to see this year as one focused on increasing investment in development and drilling activities in order to support further volume increases which are anticipated in turn to provide production growth and enhanced cash flow generation.
The increased budget that was allocated to exploration in 2021 is already starting to identify opportunities for expansion of the Wassa underground resource. The continued success of the in-mine drilling program is identifying additional mineralization around existing and planned reserve infrastructure. This continued success could see a reallocation of elements of the exploration budget to allow for further drilling of these in-mine targets with the ambition of accelerating the process for resource inclusion."
Highlights of first quarter: Q1 2021 production totaled 40.1 thousand ounces ("koz") from Wassa, in line with Q1 2020 and Q4 2020 performance. The All-In Sustaining Cost ("AISC") for the period of $1,100 per ounce ("/oz") was slightly higher than expected as sales lagged production by 3%; Mining rates of 4,499 tonnes per day ("tpd") were in line with guidance and the 3.0 grams per tonne ("g/t") grade was in line with the reserve grade; Q1 2021 saw continued investment in infill drilling and development at Wassa, ahead of future production expansion as described in the new technical report on Wassa filed on March 1, 2021 (the "Wassa Technical Report"). Q1 2021 investing activities totaled $12.8 million (“m”); Cash increased by $5.2m in Q1 2021 to total $66.1m, with net debt reducing in Q1 2021 by $3.9m to $39.5m; The Wassa Technical report demonstrated the significant growth potential at Wassa by outlining a mineral reserve plan with a six-year mine life and average annual production of 177koz of gold at an AISC of $881/oz (excluding corporate costs). The preliminary economic assessment ("PEA") of the potential expansion of the Southern Extension zone in the Wassa underground mine ("Wassa Underground") outlined a further 11-year life extension, average annual production of 294koz and an AISC of $778/oz (excluding corporate costs); and In-mine exploration drilling conducted during Q1 2021 continued to deliver positive results adjacent to the current and planned reserve mining areas. These intercepts demonstrate the potential to increase the size of the Wassa ore body with extensions to the main B-Shoot, the hanging wall zone and new foot wall targets.