Newcrest Mining’s Lihir Gold Project in New Ireland province of Papua New Guinea has set new production records for the June quarter and the 2017 financial year. In the quarter Lihir produced 276,230 ounces, up 20.3% on the previous quarter, while the annual total was 940,060 ounces, up from 900,034 ounces in FY 2016.

The June quarter production helped the company meet its 2017 financial year guidance at Lihir of 880,000-980,000 ounces.

In its quarterly report Newcrest said gold production improved due to higher milling throughput and higher head grade, partially offset by lower recovery rates.

Lihir’s AISC decreased $20 per ounce to $802 per ounce for the June quarter and production stripping per ounce declined due to sequencing across Phase 9 and Phase 14.

Mill throughput in the June quarter was at an annual rate of 14.5 million tonnes, which was also a record for the site. This was driven by improvements, such as installation of mill liners with an improved design, and the timing of shutdowns.

Although mill throughput is anticipated to be lower in the September quarter given planned shutdowns, the sustained annual mill throughput rate target of 14 million tonnes by December 2017 remains on track.

With higher mill throughput more material was passed through the float circuit, reducing overall plant recovery by approximately 3% to 78%. The Float Tails Leach Stage 2 cyclone was commissioned during the quarter and connection to the plant is expected to be completed in the September quarter, which is expected to assist with an increase in recovery rates in the future.

Newcrest managing director and CEO Sandeep Biswas said the performance at Lihir was a testament to the hard work and relentless drive for improvement strived for across all sites.

The company said that the Wafi-Golpu joint venture parties continue to progress activity in line with the forward work plan, including engagement with the PNG government on the application for a special mining lease (SML).

“The joint venture parties are targeting completion of work to update the study by the March 2018 quarter. It is expected that the business case will be optimised and an amendment to the SML application will be required to be submitted by the joint venture.”

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