by Ewan Downie
Announcing our Third Quarter production results is a milestone event for Premier being the first gold production in Company history. Initial production from South Arturo exceeded guidance by more than 50% and we are on target for company-wide guidance, including production from the Mercedes Mine, of more than 100,000 ounces of gold for 2016.
We are extremely pleased with the performance achieved to date by Barrick, the operator of our joint venture at South Arturo. As I have said many times in the past, Barrick’s ability to deliver this project on schedule and under budget confirms their world-class miner status. Premier is benefiting from Barrick’s companywide cost savings program coupled with the skill-set of their Goldstrike team to materially reduce costs.
South Arturo is one of the highest grade open pit operations brought into production in 2016 and based on the strong initial performance achieved, we remain on track to meet or exceed our production guidance for the year. Assuming this rate of production and current gold price levels, we expect to have all money invested to date into the project paid back by year end.Going forward, Barrick will be evaluating the Dee pit expansion, the El Nino underground and other exploration targets with the goal of extending the mine life well beyond its current plan.