Equinox Gold Corp reports that mining activities are underway in the Piaba Deposit at its Aurizona gold mine in Brazil. Construction remains on track to pour gold by late 2018. The mining contractor, U&M Mineração e Construção S/A, mobilized to site in March and mining commenced in mid-April. The majority of the mining fleet is on site and U&M has filled most of the planned 200 operator and support positions. U&M is operating two shifts a day and at the start of June will implement a third shift to mine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mining activities are currently focused on removing waste from two locations in the Piaba pit and developing access roads in preparation for ore mining in Q3 2018.
“Commencing mining activities is a significant construction milestone for the Aurizona gold mine and also for Equinox Gold,” said Christian Milau, CEO of Equinox Gold. “The project remains on track to pour gold by the end of 2018. Aurizona will be Equinox Gold’s first operating mine and is expected to produce on average 136,000 oz of gold per year over the life of the mine.
“While the Aurizona operations team is focused on achieving production, Equinox Gold’s exploration team is focused on mine life extension and district-scale opportunities,” continued Milau. “A resource update is underway incorporating near-mine mineralisation identified in the successful 2017 exploration program. There is also approximately 4 km of strike extension to be tested with upcoming exploration programs and a study is underway examining opportunities to develop the underground potential of this exceptional gold deposit.”
- Overall project was 44% complete and EPCM (engineering, procurement and construction management) activities were 61% complete at the end of March
- Plant construction was 27% complete at the end of March
- Refurbishment of the CIP circuit and detox tanks is complete
- Concrete foundations and pedestals for the new SAG and ball mills are complete
- Manufacturing of the SAG and ball mills is complete and the components are in-transit to Brazil with delivery to site expected in June
Construction is proceeding on schedule and on budget, with $43 million of the $146 million construction budget spent and $76 million committed at the end of March. Construction is fully funded from cash and marketable securities on hand and an $85 million secured project credit facility, from which the company has drawn $15 million to date.
All process plant earthworks have been completed. Fabrication of the SAG and ball mills is complete and the components have been loaded onto a ship for transport to Brazil with delivery to site expected in June. The concrete foundations and pedestals for the SAG and ball mills are complete and ready for mill installation. Structural steel erection in the grinding area has commenced. Additional concrete work is being completed in the leaching and thickening areas while formwork and rebar work is underway in the crusher and surge bin areas.
Refurbishment of the existing CIP circuit and detox tanks is complete while the refurbishment of other equipment such as pumps, agitators, screens and motors is 65% complete. The new jaw crusher has been delivered to site as well as other new equipment. A total of 600 t from the anticipated 1,200 t of structural steel has been delivered. The structural, mechanical and piping contract was awarded in March and steel erection activities have been underway since early April. The electrical and instrumentation contract is under technical and commercial evaluation and is expected to be awarded by the end of April.
Engineering is well advanced and expected to be essentially complete by the end of April, with some follow-on field engineering activities moving to the site. Overall procurement of equipment and materials is 58% complete and all major purchase orders have been awarded. Purchasing activities are expected to be essentially complete by the end of May with follow-on expediting activities continuing through August. Most of the equipment is expected to be delivered to site from April through August.
Improvements to secondary access roads to site have been completed. The incinerator is nearly complete and the site water treatment plant is 50% complete. All assay lab equipment has been ordered and the modular lab facilities are being assembled in containers by SGS-Geosol near Belo Horizonte, Brazil before being shipped to site. The first modules are expected to be delivered to site in June.
The upgrades to two substations required to support the increased power draw for the 8,000 t/d throughput were 65% complete at the end of March, with completion expected by August. Engineering is complete and the longest lead items, capacitor banks and voltage regulators, have been delivered to site. Civil work at one of the substations is complete with work at the second substation commencing soon.
In March 2018 the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Mineração Aurizona (MASA), received an Award for Excellence in the Mining and Metallurgy Industry by Brazilian magazine Minérios & Minerals in recognition of MASA’s “Young Environmental Agents Project”. This is the magazine’s 20th annual Award for Excellence in the Mining and Metallurgy Industry. Previous recipients have included companies such as AngloGold Ashanti, ArcelorMittal, Vale, Imerys and Alcoa.
The Young Environmental Agents Project was created in 2015 to strengthen the relationship between MASA and local communities through an environmental approach. The main objective is to educate young people by hosting workshops focused on how minerals are used in our daily lives and the social, environmental and economic impacts and opportunities associated with mining. In 2017 MASA participated in more than 150 hours of workshops and hosted Aurizona mine tours, actively engaging with more than 50 teachers and 40 students from three nearby communities.
“We are honoured to receive this award and are proud of the work the Aurizona team is doing in local communities,” said David Laing, Chief Operating Officer of Equinox Gold. “The Young Environmental Agents Project is just one of our ongoing community and stakeholder interaction programs. The Aurizona team works with community leaders and Brazilian organizations to implement a wide range of programs focused on infrastructure improvement, education, skills training, agricultural development and social programs.”