OceanaGold (TSX: OGC; ASX: OGC) is moving closer to completing the permitting process for its Haile underground mine in South Carolina, a development that would expand the production potential of its existing open-pit operation by providing higher-grade ore feed in future years.
On Friday, the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) published the supplementary environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the Haile gold mine. The SEIS is now in a 30-day public comment period, after which there is a 15-day review period before the final SEIS record of decision (ROD) is then scheduled for release.
OceanaGold believes that the comment period and the review period are unlikely to result in a change to the SEIS. The company anticipates the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and ACOE will issue the associated permits shortly after the ROD is finalized and their permit process is complete.
“The publishing of the SEIS is an important step towards finalizing this process and receiving the related operating permits that will allow commencement of the development of the underground mine, increase Haile’s gold production and help unlock the full value of Haile,” Gerard Bond, president and CEO of OceanaGold, said in a media release.
The ROD and related permits are required to commence development of the Haile underground mine and to expand the operating footprint to allow for additional potentially acid-generating waste containment facilities, overburden facilities and an expanded tailings storage facility.
Located in Kershaw, SC, the Haile gold mine is already the largest gold mining operation on the East Coast, consisting of four open pits, a world-class process circuit, the Duckwood tailings storage facility and associated surface infrastructure.
Gold was first discovered at the Haile mine in 1827, and a rich history of producing significant quantities of gold has since been established. In January 2017, OceanaGold poured first gold from the modern Haile mine after acquiring the asset in late 2015. Commercial production began in October 2017.
Last year, the Haile mine exceeded its full-year production guidance with an annual record of 189,975 oz. of gold produced. The mine has an estimated mine life of 12 years and a proven and probable reserve base of 2.84 million oz. of gold.
According to a preliminary economic assessment, the Haile underground development could boost Haile’s gold production by up to 100,000 oz. a year.