Just a month and a half behind schedule and three weeks after the World Health Organization marked the end of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Aureus Mining (TSX: AUE; LSE: AUE) celebrated the first gold pour at its New Liberty open pit mine in the West African nation.
“It was a big challenge,” David Reading, the company’ president and chief executive, says of trying to finish building and commissioning the mine during the Ebola crisis, which killed 4,806 people in the country. “We were caught between a rock and a hard place: We were two-thirds of the way through, and if we’d stopped, we probably would have bankrupted the company. But if we had an infection, I’d never be able to forgive myself.”
Fortunately, there was not a single case of the deadly disease at the project, and Reading chalks that up to strict procedures and health protocols. “We quarantined the site in terms of barriers, in terms of temperature checks, in terms of hand washing, in terms of having upgraded facilities, doctors on site, and having private charters to get us in and out of Liberia,” he says. “You name it, we did it.”
Reading expects the mine will achieve full scale, steady state production during the third quarter of this year, and revels in the fact that New Liberty is Liberia’s first commercial gold mine “and probably the first new mine built in West Africa for over two years.”
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