Perseus Mining Ltd (ASX:PRU) (TSE:PRU) (OTCMKTS:PMNXF) hit an important milestone with the first pour of gold at its Yaouré Gold Mine in Côte d’Ivoire, nearly five weeks ahead of schedule, in line with its ‘stretch target’ of December 2020.

With construction of the Yaouré processing plant and associated infrastructure largely complete, Perseus will now focus on satisfying continuous performance tests and positioning to declare commercial production.

Perseus expects to achieve both during the March 2021 quarter, when the first shipment of gold from the Yaouré mine site is also expected to take place.

Next target to hike production

Perseus’s managing director and chief executive officer Jeff Quartermaine said: “Pouring our first gold at Yaouré yesterday represented the achievement of a major milestone in the construction and commissioning of Perseus’ third gold mine.

“It also represented the delivery of another promise made to shareholders by Perseus’s management team, namely, to achieve its stretch target of first gold at Yaouré in December 2020.

“Being able to successfully develop the Yaouré Gold Mine, ahead of schedule and under budget during a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted many businesses around the world, is a testament to the skill, resilience and dedication of our in-house development team, technical and commercial support staff, our contractors and consultants.

“We are now looking forward to achieving our next target of increasing our production to more than 500,000 ounces of gold per year at a cash margin of not less than US$400 per ounce in financial year 2022.

“We will also extend our capacity to consistently produce gold at these levels for many years to come by organically increasing our ore reserve inventory through successful near-mine exploration programs across our three mines.”

Updated life of mine plan

Initially, lower grade oxide ore mainly from decommissioned heap leach pads will be processed in the Yaouré plant pending access to higher grade fresh ore from the CMA pit.

During the first five years of the Yaouré mine life, definitive feasibility study (DFS) forecasts annual gold production averaging around 215,000 ounces at a weighted average all in site cost of (AISC) of around US$750 per ounce.

An updated life of mine plan for Yaouré, taking the actual commissioning date, current mining rates, operating costs and possible increases in mineral resources into account, is scheduled for release in the March 2021 quarter.

Intermediate gold company

With the successful development and commissioning of Yaouré, Perseus will own and operate three gold mines – Edikan, Sissingué and Yaouré – in two Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

It will become a reliable intermediate gold company that generates material benefits for all of its stakeholders.