First Gold from Aureus Liberia Pushed Back to 2015

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London-listed gold firm Aureus Mining will pour first gold at its Liberia project in the first quarter of 2015, the company said on Tuesday, slightly later than previously forecast.

Once operational, the New Liberty gold project is set to produce 120 000 oz of gold a year for the first six years, Debar Allen, head of operations in Liberia, told Reuters.

The mine would be the first ever large-scale commercial gold mine in Liberia, which is rich in minerals but only gradually recovering from years of war.

Aureus's CEO David Reading had previously told Reuters Insider in an interview in May that production from the mine near the country's western border with Sierra Leone would begin in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Asked about the timing, Allen said on Tuesday: "We are starting operations in 2014, but the first gold pull will be in 2015 … As a company we need to do all our testing and make sure we are set and ready."

Allen said that the main financing for the project had been secured from South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank and Nedbank.

"We expect loan documentation on the $100-million debt facility to be completed by the year-end which will be followed by first drawdown in H1 2014," he added.

He said the mine has an estimated 900 000 oz of gold reserves.

Liberia has enjoyed robust economic growth in the decade since 14 years of civil wars drew to a close, with much of the investment coming from firms moving to tap into the country's vast iron ore reserves.

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