Acacia Mining PLCs gold production plummeted to 136,640 ounces in the third quarter, 29% lower than the 191,203 ounces produced in the third quarter of 2017. The company sold 135,875 ounces of gold, broadly in line with production.
The Barrick Gold Corp. unit said the lower output was primarily due to reduced operations at Bulyanhulu and stockpile processing at Buzwagi and was partly offset by higher gold production at North Mara driven by higher head grades. Production for the quarter exceeded management expectations across all three sites.
North Mara produced 89,287 ounces of gold, up 24% compared to 72,011 ounces produced in the prior year, on the back of 21% higher head grades driven by higher-grade ore from the eastern part of the Nyabirama open pit.
At Buzwagi, gold production dipped 47% to 36,460 ounces, from 69,097 ounces a year ago, due to transitioning to a lower-grade stockpile processing operation in line with its remaining life-of-mine plan. The final cut of higher-grade ore remaining at the bottom of the pit was mined during the quarter, resulting in slightly higher-than-expected production.
Bulyanhulu produced 10,893 gold ounces for the quarter, 78% lower than the 50,094 ounces produced in the third quarter of 2017. All production continued to be generated from the retreatment of tailings due to the underground mine being put on reduced operations in late 2017.
Acacia's cash balance totaled about US$117 million as of Sept. 30. Net cash increased by US$11 million during the quarter to about US$74 million, which included a loan repayment of US$14 million.
Interim CEO Peter Geleta said the company expects to exceed the upper end of its full-year production guidance range of 435,000 to 475,000 ounces and is now aiming to produce just over 500,000 ounces.