Kirkland Lake sets 1.3-1.4 moz production target for 2021

Expansion is planned at the Fosterville gold mine. Credit: Kirkland Lake Gold.

Kirkland Lake Gold (TSX:KL) (NYSE:KL) (ASX:KLA) has set its full year production guidance at between 1.3-1.4 million ounces for 2021, driven by strong growth at its Detour Lake mine in Ontario.

This is nearly identical to the company’s 2020 production target of 1.35-1.4 million ounces, though next year’s guidance will not include the Holt Complex, which is now on care and maintenance.

All-in sustaining costs (AISC) per ounce of gold sold are expected remain unchanged from the 2020 levels at between $790-$810/oz.

Leading up to 2023, Kirkland Lake is hoping to grow its annual production to between 1.4 and 1.54 million ounces. The gold miner said it will continue to work towards achieving a number of significant, and potentially transformational, milestones, including completing the current $50 million drilling program at Detour Lake and releasing a new mine plan in 2022.

In Australia, Kirkland Lake is planning its largest exploration program at Fosterville since acquiring the mine in 2016

According to the company, drilling to date at Detour Lake has provided increasing evidence that the Main, West and North pit locations involve one large, continuous deposit that can support the transition to a “super pit” concept and can lead to substantially higher levels of production.

“Looking at our cornerstone assets, Detour Lake is set to significantly grow in 2021, with production for the year targeted at 680,000-720,000 ounces at AISC per ounce better than $900 per ounce, ” CEO and president Tony Makuch commented in a press release.

“We regard the 2021 production level as a benchmark to be sustained and ultimately increased going forward. Under current assumptions, including receiving required permits and approvals, we expect production to grow to approximately 800,000 ounces in 2025 within the current mine plan.”

At Macassa, also located in Ontario, the #4 shaft project is continuing and remains on track for completion in late 2022, when production is expected to increase to 400,000 ounces at improved unit costs in 2023.

In Australia, Kirkland Lake is planning its largest exploration program at Fosterville since acquiring the mine in 2016, including $85-$95 million of drilling and development. The primary objective of the program is to identify additional high-grades zones to provide future high-grade production.

The 2021 exploration plan will largely follow up on existing drill results that included the intersection of quartz with visible gold, found in large concentrations and at exceptional grades in the Swan Zone, in multiple other locations.

Production at Fosterville in 2021 is anticipated to be lower than levels achieved in the two prior years. “We have a large orebody at Fosterville, but the high-grade components of the existing mineral reserve involve a short production life,” Makuch said.

“When you consider that we have identified a number of large mineralized systems, all including intersections containing quartz with visible gold, we remain optimistic that additional high-grade zones can be identified.”

Makuch added that his company’s business plan for 2021 will involve higher levels of investment, reflecting the significant growth potential and exploration upside at all three cornerstone assets, as well as the payment of over $200 million in dividends to shareholders.

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