Canadian mining company Golden Star Resources has started pre-commercial production at its Wassa underground mine in Ghana.
Prior to this, Golden Star completed blasting of the first stope in the upper part of the F Shoot underground and delivered the first ore to the Wassa processing plant.
Longitudinal longhole open stoping has been used to mine the first stope using remote control scoops for ore loading and it was later hauled to surface through 50t trucks.
Within the B Shoot, the higher grade areas are scheduled to be accessed early next year.
Set to achieve commercial production next year, Wassa underground is expected to deliver 2,000t-2,500t of ore per day, which will be mined in conjunction with ore from the Wassa main pit and blended for feeding to the processing plant.
The development rate at the mine is currently 10m-12m per day and may continue to increase throughout the second half of this year.
Golden Star Resources president and CEO Sam Coetzer said: "The blasting of the first stope at Wassa Underground is the first of two major operational milestones that we are targeting during the course of the next 12 months.
“The second milestone will be the blasting of the first stope at Prestea Underground, which is anticipated to occur in mid-2017."
Wassa is anticipated to produce 20,000oz-25,000oz of pre-commercial gold production this year, while production from the combined main pit and underground operations is expected to be 120,000oz-135,000oz of gold over the same period.
Golden Star owns and operates the Wassa and Prestea mines on the prolific Ashanti Gold Belt in western Ghana, Africa.