K92 Mining Inc. (K92) announces production in the second quarter (“Q2”) at its Kainantu Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea of 25,015 oz AuEq or 22,153 oz gold, 1,098,730 lbs copper and 14,914 oz of silver.
During the second quarter, the operation continued its positive ramp-up momentum to run-rate Stage 2 Expansion throughput, delivering record mill throughput of 75,667 tonnes processed. This was achieved despite unexpected short-term challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April and May, Papua New Guinea experienced record levels of COVID-19 cases, which also resulted in a significant number of positive cases identified amongst our employees returning to site, where they must test negative before entering quarantine as the mine operates as a COVID-19-free-site. This resulted in significant short staffing due to COVID-19 related absenteeism in addition to an increase in quarantine length and enhanced quarantine control measures, which impacted staffing levels throughout the operation. In addition, the operation was impacted by COVID-19 related suspension of expatriate travel between Australia and Papua New Guinea which went into effect on March 17 and was only lifted in mid-May.
By late-May, the COVID-19 situation considerably improved in Papua New Guinea and amongst our workforce returning to site. Our operational resiliency to COVID-19 is also rapidly improving. A vaccination program is already underway at the Kainantu Gold Mine for our Papua New Guinea National workforce. Additionally, our expatriate workforce has been vaccinated in their country of origin before returning to site. Health and safety procedures to mitigate COVID-19 on site remain in effect and have proven to be effective. Further advancement of the vaccination program is expected to drive improved operational efficiencies, including a reduction in quarantine requirements which have been in place for the last 15 months.
Operational performance considerably increased in the second half of the quarter with the improving COVID-19 situation. From mid-May to the end of June, production totaled 14,920 oz Au, 521,946 lbs Cu, 7,390 oz Ag or 16,284 oz AuEq.
Throughout the quarter, long hole stoping continued to perform to design, with operations focused on Kora’s K1 and K2 veins and also Judd’s J1 veins for a total of 6 levels mined. Mining on Kora was conducted on the 1150, 1170, 1205, 1225 and 1265 levels and Judd on the 1235 level. Following positive drilling results, it is now planned to commence production stoping from the Judd “J1” Vein in the fourth quarter which should further enhance production, the fourth quarter is expected to be the strongest quarter for the year.
The new twin incline development resumed on May 21, after the COVID-19 Papua New Guinea and Australia travel restrictions were lifted and the COVID-19 situation in Papua New Guinea improved. The #2 (6m x 6m) incline has now advanced a total of 410 metres and the #3 (5m x 5m) incline has now advanced a total of 440 metres as of June 30, 2021.
During the quarter, the majority of drill rigs continued to operate, concurrently drilling the Kora Vein System, Judd Vein System and Blue Lake porphyry. Short staffing as discussed above, resulted in a notable backlog of drill holes to assay and core log on site, which we are now working through. Multiple exploration updates are expected near-term.