Lower output expected for Otjikoto
• By Hilary Mare
OTJIKOTO’S gold production is budgeted to be lower in 2022 (compared to Otjikoto’s record annual gold production of 197 573 ounces in 2021) as lower grade ore is anticipated to be processed in 2022 following the planned completion of mining at the higher grade Wolfshag Pit Phase 3 in the first quarter of 2022.
The Otjikoto Mine is expected to produce between 175 000 and 185 000 ounces of gold in 2022.
In the first half of 2022, processed ore is expected to be sourced from Phase 3 of the Wolfshag Pit (scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2022) and Phase 3 of the Otjikoto Pit, supplemented by medium and high-grade ore stockpiles, expected to result in an average head grade of approximately 1.26 g/t.
In the second half of 2022, head grade is expected to increase and average approximately 2.10 g/t, when mining is scheduled to reach the higher-grade portions of Phase 3 of the Otjikoto Pit and high-grade ore production ramps up at the Wolfshag underground mine.
“As a result of this timing of high-grade ore mining, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be significantly weighted to the second half of 2022. For the first half of 2022, Otjikoto’s gold production is expected to be between 65 000 and 70 000 ounces, which is expected to increase significantly to between 110 000 and 115 000 ounces during the second half of 2022,” Clive Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the mine said.
The Otjikoto Mine in Namibia had a strong second half in 2021 and finish to the year, resulting in new quarterly and annual gold production records. For 2021, the Otjikoto Mine produced an annual record of 197 573 ounces of gold, near the upper end of its guidance range (of between 190 000 and 200 000 ounces), and 18 percent (29 532 ounces) higher compared to 2020.
STRONGER IN 2021
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the Otjikoto Mine produced a quarterly record of 78 681 ounces of gold, in line with budget, and significantly higher by 96 percent (38 476 ounces) over the fourth quarter of 2020.
“As planned, with the completion of the pre-stripping campaigns at the Wolfshag and Otjikoto pits in the first half of 2021, Otjikoto’s gold production increased significantly in the second half of 2021, as mining reached the higher-grade zone at the base of the Wolfshag Pit in the third quarter of 2021,” Johnson said.
For full-year 2021, mill feed grade was 1.76 g/t compared to budget of 1.77 g/t and 1.52 g/t in 2020; mill throughput was 3.54 million tonnes compared to budget of 3.40 million tonnes and 3.51 million tonnes in 2020; and gold recovery averaged 98.6% compared to budget of 98.1 percent and 98.4 percent in 2020.
Capital expenditures totalled US$81 million in 2021, primarily consisting of US$41 million for pre-stripping for the Otjikoto Pit Phase 4 and Wolfshag Pit Phase 3, US$21 million for Wolfshag underground development, US$11 million in mobile equipment rebuilds and purchases and US$7 million for the national power grid connection line.
Capital expenditures for the fourth quarter of 2021 totalled US$22 million primarily consisting of US$8 million for pre-stripping for the Otjikoto Pit Phase 4, US$7 million for Wolfshag underground development, US$4 million for the national power grid connection line and US$3 million in mobile equipment rebuilds and purchases.
“Development of the Wolfshag underground mine continues to progress with ore production expected to begin in the first half of 2022. The initial underground mineral reserve estimate for the down-plunge extension of the Wolfshag deposit includes 210 000 ounces of gold in 1.2 million tonnes of ore at 5.57 g/t gold,” Johnson concluded.