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McEwen to scale back Black Fox in 2020

McEwen Mining (NYSE: MUX) says it is planning to scale back production at its Black Fox mine in Ontario next year, to advance both exploration and the Froome deposit.
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McEwen Mining’s Black Fox complex in Ontario

Staff reporter

Chief owner Rob McEwen had told Mining Journal in September slowed production at Black Fox would be ideal

The plan comes as the company reported positive exploration results from the complex but warned of higher costs at both the Black Fox mine and its Gold Bar mine in Nevada.

It said cash costs at Black Fox had been "well controlled" this year and were expected to be in line with guidance of US$905 per gold-equivalent ounce.

However all-in sustaining costs for 2019 at Black Fox were expected to increase from $1,080/oz Au-eq to $1,250-$1,300/oz Au-eq, due to higher-than-expected sustaining capital expenses related to underground development, improvement projects, and additional capital spending associated with the transition to owner-operated crushing at the Stock Mill.

It said third quarter cash costs and AISC year-to-date were $859/oz Au-eq and $1,326/oz Au-eq respectively.

"We plan to scale back production in 2020 to enable greater freedom to explore in the mine, and free resources to advance development of the Froome underground deposit adjacent to Black Fox," McEwen said.

The company also reported highlights from drilling at Grey Fox, part of the Black Fox complex, including 18.8m at 10.9g/t gold at South Zone, plus 8.4m at 14.1g/t including 1.3m at 59.1g/t at Whiskey Jack.

"These results highlight the potential to find additional gold mineralisation across the 1sq.km Grey Fox deposit area," SVP exploration Sylvain Guerard said.

Gold Bar costs increase

Meanwhile, McEwen Mining said Gold Bar's 2019 gold-equivalent cash costs and AISC were expected to come in above guidance of $930/oz and $975/oz, at $1,000-$1,050/oz and $1,200-$1,300/oz respectively.

It said the increase was due to the delayed mine start-up and higher-than-expected operating expenses and sustaining capital expenses required to correct plant deficiencies and improve performance.

"We plan to increase production in 2020 to 65,000-70,000 gold ounces, and expect costs to moderate and then decline as our improvements take effect," the company said.

McEwen's US-listed shares have ranged from $1.24-$2.15 over the past year and closed up 1.2% to $1.75, to capitalise it at $634 million.