Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution

FIRST gold from Perseus Mining’s second Africa mine, the Sissingué project in Cote d’Ivoire, represents a significant milestone for the company that belies its relatively modest size, according to investment bank BMO Capital Markets.
Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution Sissingué paves way for Perseus evolution

Perseus's Sissingue plant.

Perseus announced this morning it had delivered crushed ore to the mill and carbon-in-leach plant at Sissingué ahead of schedule and would pour first gold by the end of the month ahead of commercial production by the end of the quarter.

Management expected the final development cost to fall within the US$107 million forecasted.

Sissingué will complement Perseus’ flagship mine in Ghana, Edikan, which produces some 200,000 ounces per annum.

Sissingué is scheduled to produce an average of 70,000oz per annum for a little over five years, with production front-loaded for some 80,000ozpa in the first three years.

The cost per ounce has been estimated at $632 making it a high-margin operation. The resulting internal rate of return using a $1300/oz gold price has been estimated at 33%.

Managing director Jeff Quartermaine described the milestone as “important” in the company’s evolution as an Africa gold producer.

“Perseus will be transformed from a single mine, single-country business to a multi-mine, multi-jurisdiction operation and we will be well on the way to achieving our goal of producing in excess of 500,000oz of gold per year from late 2021 from our three West African operations.”

A key part of that 500,000ozpa picture will be the company’s third asset, Yaoure, also in Cote d’Ivoire, which will come sharply into focus once Sissingué starts pouring gold.

Yaoure is a much larger proposition, with almost double the throughput (3.3 million tonnes per annum) and almost 2.5 times the development capital required ($263 million).

For that, Perseus expects more than 160,000ozpa over an 8.5-year life-of-mine at average operating costs of $759/oz for an IRR of 27% using a $1250/oz gold price.

However, like Sissingué, production is set to be front loaded for 215,000ozpa in the first five years at $734/oz. The initial mine life is also expected to be expanded substantially through exploration of the wider land package.

BMO analyst Andrew Breichmanas took a positive view on the progress at Sissingué, citing long-term, strategic benefits.

“While Sissingue is a relatively small operation … establishing a second mine reduces operational risks, diversifies jurisdictional exposure, and provides important experience in Cote d’Ivoire as the focus shifts towards development of the Yaoure project.”

Perseus shares surged by 8.1% this morning to A42.7c, nearing a 52-week high of 45.5c set almost exactly a year ago.