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It keeps going...

A bit more life at Giant

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 24/01) - The latest figures from Giant mine will be welcome news to workers.

Five months ago, owner Miramar Mining Corp. revised its mine plan because of lower grades at Giant. That meant reserves were to last until September 2001, according to the company.

In the 12 months to September, Miramar is targeting 77,000 tons of ore with a grade of .38 ounces of gold per ton. The 77,000 tons would supplement refractory ore mined at Con.

But since last September, 18,734 tons of ore with a grade of .45 ounces of gold per ton has been mined and processed at the Con mill. This compares with 20,280 tons grading .35 ounces per ton gold.

"Of particular interest is that a significant component of the tons mined to date on the revised plan came from outside limits of the 77,000-ton reserve, with both grade and tonnage gains. If this trend continues, operations at Giant may continue beyond planned September 2001 shut-down," Miramar said.

Canadian Auto Workers Local 2304 plant chair Steve Petersen said any news that extends the life the mine is good.

"These guys are hanging on," he said of the remaining workforce at Giant.

"Some (Giant miners) are looking to go to Stillwater," Petersen adds.

Stillwater Mining is looking for workers for its platinum-palladium mine in Montana, and is conducting interviews this week in Yellowknife.

Lower costs

Miramar has also reduced its per ounce cash costs to the lowest levels in a decade.

For 2000, Miramar's Yellowknife operations produced 121,874 ounces at a cash cost of $264 US per ounce. Yellowknife operations produced 35,678 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $242 US per ounce in the last three months of the year.

"The Con mine continues to exceed expectations and I am very pleased with the Giant mine's improved performance in the fourth quarter," Miramar president and CEO Tony Walsh said.

"Our focus on continued cost reductions, improved refractory ore processing and other general productivity improvements has resulted in the lowest cash cost per ounce recorded in the past 10 years. This improvement has enabled operations to remain cash flow positive despite sustained low gold prices."

During fourth quarter, the Con mine delivered 52,041 tons grading .48 ounces of gold per ton versus a planned 62,276 tons grading .34 ounces of gold per ton.

Gold production in 2001 is forecast at about 125,000 ounces at cash costs of about $260 US per ounce. Production outlook for 2002 and 2003 remains at about 120,000 to 125,000 ounces each year at cash costs of about $245 US per ounce.

Operations are planned to wind up in 2004 with the completion of treatment of arsenic wastes, Miramar said. Operating beyond 2004 depends on improved gold prices and exploration success.

"The positive performance realized in second half of 1999 and the year 2000 confirms the basis of our plan to complete a major element of reclamation while maintaining cash flow positive operations at current gold prices," Walsh said.