Cash costs lowered
Miramar sets sights on refractory gold

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( Jun 14/00) - Miramar Mining, owner the Con and Giant mines, predicts lower gold production costs over the next 18 months.

"Combined cash costs for the Yellowknife operations are forecast at $267 US per ounce in 2000 and are projected to fall to $260 US per ounce of gold in 2001," the company said in its fiscal 1999 report.

Miramar's combined cash costs for gold production last year were $272 US per ounce. The 1999 figure covers Con production from July -- after the strike ended -- through December.

Gold is currently trading at about $285 US an ounce.

Miramar spokesperson Brian Labadie said about half the drop in cash cost is linked to processing ore from the Giant mine.

"(It's) a cost- reduction program at Con plus incremental ore from Giant," he said.

Miramar has 72 people working at the Giant mine, said Labadie. When Giant mine owner Royal Oak went bankrupt, Miramar bought the property and is processing the ore at its Con mine.

Labadie adds that 54 of the Giant staff are hourly workers (members of CAW Local 2304) while an-other 18 are staff. In all, about 65 of the people working at Giant worked at the mine when it was owned by Royal Oak.

Con produced 38,687 ounces of gold in 1999.

Miramar expects its Yk operations will produce 100,000 ounces this year. About 30,000 ounces of that will be from Giant mine.

"Similar levels of production are anticipated in 2001," the company said.

As well as the lower production costs and the higher production, Miramar is also bullish about refractory gold opportunities at Con, Giant and in Giant tailings.

Giant mine tailings could generate 640,000 ounces of gold, which could be recovered into an iron-rich concentrate.

This concentrate would be processed in the Con mine autoclave, producing low-cost gold -- around $200 US an ounce.

Production of refractory gold -- refractory gold is gold that has resisted earlier processing -- could commence in spring 2001.

In all, refractory gold at Miramar's Yellowknife operations could pan out at more than one million ounces.