Miner Kirkland Lake Gold (TSX: KL; NYSE: KL; ASX: KLA) produced 369,434 gold oz. in the fourth quarter of 2020, bringing the company’s 2020 production to 1.37 million oz., in line with its guidance for 1.35 to 1.4 million oz. for the year.
In the fourth quarter, all three ‘cornerstone’ assets (Detour Lake, Fosterville and Masacca) recorded their best quarterly production for 2020. Detour generated 153,143 oz. and Macassa churned out 52,283 gold oz. The Fosterville mine in Australia contributed a further 164,008 ounces. The fourth-quarter production is a 9% increase over the 339,584 gold oz. produced in the third quarter.
Fosterville beat its 2020 production guidance of 590,000 to 610,000 oz., while output from both Detour Lake and Macassa came in slightly below their respective forecasts for 520,000 to 540,000 oz. and 210,000 to 220,000 oz.
“Faced with unprecedented challenges, we generated solid results, with production of 1,369,652 oz. achieving our full-year 2020 guidance. Our strong performance was driven by Fosterville, which generated record production of 640,467 ounces, including better than expected results during Q4 2020,” Tony Makuch, Kirkland Lake Gold’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
Makuch added that both the Detour Lake and Macassa mines were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic earlier in 2020 but both ‘bounced back’ later in the year. The mining executive also noted that looking to 2021, the mine is “poised for strong production growth and improved unit costs, with there being considerable potential for additional growth as we continue to have success with our extensive exploration program.”
In the last quarter of 2020, Kirkland Lake sold 371,009 gold oz., at an average realized price of US$1,875 per oz., which brings total gold sales for the year to 1.39 million oz. at US$1,772 per ounce.
Last year, the company returned US$847.6 million to its shareholders, through share repurchases and dividend payments. Kirkland Lake Gold closed out 2020 with US$848 million of cash and no debt. There was no change in the cash balance when compared with the end of the third quarter, due to the US$280.1 million spent on share repurchases and dividend payouts.
Looking at its growth projects, the #4 shaft project at Macassa is proceeding ahead of schedule, with completion expected by late 2022 to grow output from this asset to the 400,000 to 425,000 oz. per year level by 2023. At Detour Lake, several projects are underway to support future production growth – these include investments in mill improvements and an expansion of the tailings capacity. A twin exploration drive at Fosterville is also being developed to the Robbin’s Hill area to support underground drilling.
In December, the company announced its 2021 production expectations, guiding for 1.3 to 1.4 million oz. at all-in sustaining costs unchanged from 2020 guidance of US$790 to US$810 per oz. sold.