Avion Gold Corp. says improved political stability in Mali and the prospect of democratic elections following a military coup will allow the company to resume a mill expansion at the Tabakoto mine late this year or early in 2013.
The Canadian company, which has its head office in Toronto but its main operations in Africa, continued its mining operations despite the overthrow of Mali’s elected government by a military coup in March.
However, the mill expansion was delayed when Avion’s foreign contractors left the site during the coup.
Avion said Wednesday that with a more stable political situation in Mali, the Canadian government has reduced its warning advisory by one level in the southern part of Mali, where the Tabakoto Mine is located
The company is negotiating with contractors and necessary parties to return to the expansion site as soon as possible, but Avion didn’t provide a time on Wednesday.
But Avion said it now estimates 2012 production will be between 95,000 and 102,000 ounces — somewhat better than estimated two months ago, when the expansion was suspended.
The company had lowered its production guidance in May to between 90,000 and 100,000 ounces of gold. The previous range had been 140,000 to 150,000 ounces.
“Management is pleased with how well the Tabakoto operations performed in the second quarter with higher than forecast grades and budgeted mill recoveries,” Avion chief executive John Begeman said Wednesday’s announcement.
“As a result of this strong operational performance during the first half of 2012, Avion has increased its 2012 production guidance. As well, Avion is confident that in the improved business climate, it makes sense to re-start the mill capacity upgrade as soon as practical.”