The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed IAMGOLD Corporation said the maintenance team has restarted the semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill at the company’s Essakane Mine in Burkina Faso.
On Monday November 1, 2010, the variable frequency drive failed after attempting a restart of the SAG mill following a temporary blackout in the generating station. The VFD manages the delivery of power from the generating plant to the motor for the SAG mill.
The primary focus of the diagnostic process was on determining whether all or portions of the VFD can be repaired or need to be replaced.
While the diagnostic process continues, the maintenance team explored and implemented a backup plan to use the ball mill starter and drive system with the SAG mill motor after having modified that motor to match the ball mill motor configuration.
The SAG mill and the gold plant can run independently without the ball mill and did so at about 60 percent of its capacity during the summer before the ball mill came online.
Maximum throughput using this configuration will only be known once the SAG mill’s capacity is optimised using this power configuration.
The Company plans to update the market once it is understood what happened with the VFD and there is a plan and timing to repair it. The Company expects to be able to confirm or revise its annual production guidance for 2010 concurrent with that update.
“In commercial production since July 16, 2010, Essakane has been performing extremely well,” said Steve Letwin, President and CEO of IAMGOLD.
“This incident is unfortunate as during the month of October, Essakane produced more than 30,000 ounces of gold and has been processing at a rate of more than 7.5 million tonnes per year. We view this specific electrical issue with the variable frequency drive as a rare occurrence and, once we complete the repair, it should in no way affect the ramp up process nor the reliability of the plant. We remain very optimistic about our future production targets at Essakane, especially since we launched the feasibility study for expansion.”
IAMGOLD is a mid-tier gold mining company producing approximately one million ounces annually from 8 gold mines on 3 continents.
The BSE quoted company is a uniquely positioned with a strong financial position and extensive management and operational expertise.
The company has a pipeline of development and exploration projects and continues to assess accretive acquisition opportunities.
IAMGOLD’s growth plans are strategically focused in West Africa, select countries in South America and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, where it also operates a niobium mine.
It also operates Mupane mine near Francistown in Botswana.