Longer rosters for Saracen

TO HELP deal with the COVID-19 crisis, Saracen Mineral Holdings is increasing the fly-in, fly-out rosters for its workers to at least three weeks on and three weeks off.
Longer rosters for Saracen Longer rosters for Saracen Longer rosters for Saracen Longer rosters for Saracen Longer rosters for Saracen

There is enough ore at Thunderbox to keep it mill turning for another 13 months.

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The FIFO rosters are normally 15 days on, 13 days off and eight days on, six days off.

All FIFO travel will be restricted to charter flights only with health screening to be conducted before departure.

Employees and contractors living outside WA are not allowed to travel to site unless they have self-isolated for 14 days.

The company has also added extra charter flights and buses to allow for sufficient social distancing.

Saracen is trying to limit the number of people on site as part of a smaller "footprint" approach. Where possible it is trying to get employees to work from home.

It is also retraining employees from "discretionary" areas to provide back-up for essential services such as the process plant.

Saracen's workers will also be granted more flexible access to their leave. There is the option to take leave at half-pay and even go 20 days beyond their accrued leave. There is also extra leave available for those workers impacted by international quarantines.

The company is also making additional mental health support available.

On the production front, while mill production at Saracen Mineral Holdings operations will likely be only slightly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis at the moment, managing director Raleigh Finalyson warned these were not "business as usual times".

He said the company had substantial ore stockpiles, which would limit impact on milling for the time being.

"The controls and restrictions we have put in place in recent weeks are likely to impact our mining production rates in the coming quarter," Finlayson said.

"At this stage, with the benefit of substantial ore stockpiles, we expect the impact to be limited on mill production, but we will ensure we keep all stakeholders informed if and when circumstances change in the future.

"It may also become necessary to implement further measures, which we will do without hesitation if circumstances require.

"Saracen's long-standing strategy to ‘future-proof the business' offers a high degree of resilience to the risks and challenges posed by COVID-19, in particular the prudent build-up of surface ore stockpiles for processing to the tune of 1.7 million ounces."

Carosue Dam has ore stockpiles sufficient for about nine months of processing while Thunderbox has enough for 13 months processing.

At Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, which Saracen owns 50-50 with Northern Star Resources, there is enough low grade ore for about 25 months processing and sufficient sub-grade ore for 92 months of processing.

In the March quarter operations performed in-line with previously stated guidance - Saracen had estimated record group production of between 150,000 and 155,000 ounces for the quarter.

The company said its operations were adapting well to the protocols and reduced "footprint" model it has put in place.

Given how quickly the COVID-19 crisis is evolving there is no certainty operations will not be impacted in the June quarter.

The expansion of the Carosue Dam mill from 2.4 million tonnes per annum to 3.2Mtpa is proceeding, although commissioning is likely to be delayed to the March quarter 2021. That commissioning had been slated for the December quarter.

The delay stems from the uncertainty of timing around critical lead items including the new mill, which is coming from China and new mill motor coming from France.

Tank 8 and tank 9 have already been constructed and commissioned as part of the upgrade. GR Engineering Services has moved to a six weeks on, three weeks off roster to continue with the construction works and limit the construction footprint of people and activity.

To help reduce the number of people on site and minimise costs Saracen has suspended all greenfields exploration. In-mine activities have been curtailed where possible, such as resource definition drilling into Fimiston South at KCGM.

 

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