STRONG production results from its Simberi mine in Papua New Guinea has bolstered the fourth quarter results of Australia-based company St Barbara.

St Barbara reported gold production at Simberi was 17,294 ounces for the December quarter – the highest monthly and quarterly production at Simberi since it acquired the project in 2012.

This contributed to St Barbara’s consolidated gold production of 97,917 ounces for the December quarter.

St Barbara said Simberi production benefited from operating the semi-autogenous grinding mill and ball mill in parallel, resulting in positive net cash flow (unaudited) for the month of December.

Consolidated all-in sustaining cost was A$1,042 per ounce for the quarter and the average realised gold price was A$1,423 per ounce for the December quarter.

The company reported the fatality of a local contractor at Simberi operations on 5 March, St Barbara said the incident occurred during tree clearing activities on site.

In a statement, the company said operations at Simberi have been paused to conduct a site-wide safety briefing and a detailed investigation into the incident has commenced.

Despite a fatality at Simberi, the company-wide total recordable injury frequency rate, calculated as a rolling 12 month average, was 4.7 for the year, showing a decrease from 4.9 at 30 September 2014.

A near-mine drilling program at Monun Creek on the Simberi Mine Lease was completed during the quarter, targeting extensions to mineralisation immediately southeast of the Sorowar open pit.

St Barbara said the initial results from the drilling program were “highly encouraging”.

The company said its negotiations with the Solomon Islands government in relation to its Gold Ridge operations on the Solomon Islands, regarding the potential transfer of Gold Ridge to the government made little progress during the quarter.

Cash at bank (unaudited) increased by A$14 million during the quarter to A$70 million as at 31 December 2014, including A$2 million of restricted cash.

St Barbara said the increase was primarily due to the record production at Leonora in Western Australia, reduced funding of the Pacific operations and favourable working capital movements.

The Red Kite debt facility has been restructured for amortisation payments to start in September 2015, the facility will then be repaid in equal instalments over eight quarters, the company said.

Total interest bearing liabilities at 31 December 2014 were A$390 million, as reported in the company’s quarterly report.