Canadian gold producer Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX: KLA) has announced record levels of gold production for both the fourth quarter and full year of 2018, mainly driven by higher output at its Fosterville mine in Victoria, Australia, as well as its Macassa mine in Ontario.
The company today reported total gold production reaching 230,993 ounces for the 2018 fourth quarter (calendar year) – 28% higher than the previous quarter and representing a 39% increase from the corresponding period in 2017.
In addition, the company saw a 21% boost in full-year gold production of 723,477oz, compared to 596,405oz in 2017.
Kirkland said this reflected a 35% increase from Fosterville, 24% from Macassa, as well as 16% and 2% increases at the Taylor and Holt mines in Ontario, respectively.
Fosterville the main driver
Most notably, a 57% fourth quarter output rise (compared to 2017 Q4) from the Fosterville mine reflected an average grade of 39.7 grams per tonne of gold, which was significantly above target levels.
The company has been conducting exploration programs at the Fosterville project, with underground infill drilling targeting the Swan Zone continuing to return intercepts with exceptionally high-grades, substantial widths and visible gold.
Highlights from Kirkland’s latest drilling report, released in mid-December, included 598g/t gold over 6.4m, 625g/t gold over 3.6m, as well as 144g/t gold over 16.5m.
In today’s announcement, the company said it would continue to target significant growth in Swan Zone mineral reserves.
This record-high production bodes well for the company, particularly with gold prices recovering over the past five months and market analysts predicting a stellar year for the metal in 2019.
Kirkland chief executive officer Tony Makuch said this continued growth “could see the company achieve a million ounces of annual, low-cost gold production as early as 2021”.
“A key part of our progress has been the continued transformation of Fosterville into one of the world’s greatest gold mining operations,” he said.
“Turning to Macassa, our grade performance in the South Mine Complex has been excellent, with many stopes outperforming in Q4 2018, and our operations team continuing to perform very well in moving our production profile to the deeper, high-grade parts of the mine,” Mr Makuch added.
Kirkland is anticipating further substantial production growth from the Macassa mine once a new shaft is completed. Phase one of the completion is on track for early 2022, Mr Makuch said.
The company has announced a three-year production guidance, projecting 740,000-800,000oz in 2019 and building up to a potential 1.005Moz in 2021.
Kirkland shares rose sharply on today’s announcement, sitting up 6.59% at $38 by afternoon trade.