ST BARBARA produced 111,288 ounces of gold in the March quarter, surpassing the record it set in the previous quarter.

The production rise was helped by a lift in gold production at the company’s Simberi operations to 22,498 ounces for the quarter.

This was up from the 17,294 ounces produced in the December quarter, which benefited from the operation of the SAG mill and ball mill in parallel.

The company also cited increased performance of the ore delivery system and the additional capacity provided by the ball mill resulting for its increased production rate and for providing positive net cash flow for the March quarter.

St Barbara still expects gold production from the Simberi project to be between 70,000 and 80,000 ounces for the 2014-2015 financial year, with the project anticipated to maintain a 100,000 ounce per annum run rate in the June 2015 quarter.

Capital expenditure for Simberi is forecast between A$8 million and A$10 million for financial year 2015.

To secure a stable cash margin on Simberi’s anticipated financial year 2016 gold production; the company sold forward 100,000 ounces of gold at $1,600 per ounce, deliverable in monthly instalments from July 2015 to June 2016.

The company added that it expected cash flow is to improve in the June quarter, when the project was operating consistently at the target 100,000 ounce per annum run rate.

St Barbara’s consolidated all-in sustaining cost was A$798 per ounce for the quarter, with the average realised gold price A$1,511 per ounce.

The engineering and maintenance schedule includes an aggressive program of preventative maintenance on aerial rope conveyor Ropecon.

Contract trucking services have been introduced to supplement the Ropecon and provide continuity of feed to the plant over the coming quarters while the Ropecon remediation is completed.

A contract crusher was mobilised in April to improve the handling of hard ores, reducing wear on the existing breaker unit and increasing throughput on the ore delivery infrastructure.

St Barbara said together these provide valuable redundancy at the feed end of the system and will boost ore delivery rates.

In March the tailing thickener and detoxification system was commissioned concluding the Oxide Expansion project.

St Barbara said the nine month production improvement trend at Simberi gives the company confidence that targeted production and costs per ounce are sustainable, and establishes a new base for future improvements.

St Barbara said the engineering and maintenance program to improve the performance of the Simberi processing plant was delivering strong results, with throughput in the March quarter a 22% increase on the prior quarter.

Trenching at Monun Creek and Sorowar Southeast on the Simberi mine lease was completed furing the quarter, with the trenching program targeting extensions to mineralisation immediately southeast and east of the Sorowar open pit.

“Highly encouraging results were returned,” St Barbara said.

Documentation has been submitted for renewal of exploration license EL 609 – Western Simberi, Tatau and Big Tabar Islands.

St Barbara’s Simbari Island exploration program is focused on identifying additional near-mine higher grade oxide resources as potential ore feed sources to extend mine life.

A fatality was reported at St Barbara’s Simberi operations on 6 March as a result of a tree felling incident.

The company-wide total recordable injury frequency rate was 4.9 for the year to 31 March 2015.