Equinox Gold Corp says it is making good headway on its 60%-owned Greenstone project, in Ontario, Canada, with four Cat 793 haul trucks delivered to site and the first Komatsu PC-5500 excavator set for assembly this quarter.
The Greenstone project is being developed as a 60/40 partnership, respectively, by Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance Group, and is billed as being one of the largest gold mines in Canada, producing more than 400,000 oz/y of gold for the first five years and more than 5 Moz of gold over its initial 14-year mine life.
The project is now 35% complete and on schedule to pour first gold in the first half of 2024, Equinox says. As of June 30, 2022, 56% of total capital costs had been contracted and Greenstone had spent $315 million (26%) of its $1.23 billion construction budget (100% basis).
The earthworks were 48% complete, with plant site earthworks 76% complete, tailings storage facility (TSF) earthworks 29% complete and the Highway 11 realignment earthworks 39% complete. Structural concrete was 37% complete and structural steel 21% complete.
The company says pre-production mining should commence in the December quarter with the four Cat 793s (250-t) payload haul trucks and the first Komatsu PC-5500.
Equinox has also committed to mobile equipment lease financing of $78 million for the project, deferring approximately $53 million of initial capital spend, it says.
The Greenstone Mine plan contemplates construction of a 27,000 t/d processing facility and open-pit mining operation for the Hardrock deposit. The process plant consists of a crushing circuit, grinding circuit, pre-leach thickening and leaching, carbon-in-pulp circuit, carbon elution and regeneration, electrowinning and gold refining, and tailings disposal, with overall gold recovery of 91.2%. Mining will use conventional open-pit blast, load and haul techniques, with the 2020 technical report also including the potential for automated blasthole drilling.
Christian Milau, CEO of Equinox Gold, stated: “The Greenstone team has done great work staying on schedule and on budget, despite the challenges of starting construction during COVID and dealing with inflationary and supply chain issues. The independent quantitative risk assessment of our schedule and construction budget has provided additional comfort that we’re on track to deliver the project as planned in the first half of 2024.
“Excellent earthworks progress during the winter months means we can focus on concrete foundations and steel structures during the summer and fall and enclose the majority of buildings before year end, which will allow us to maintain productivity during the winter months.”
Upcoming construction milestones include:
- Delivery and assembly of pre-production fleet of four trucks and excavators: Q2-Q3 2022;
- Permanent water effluent treatment plant ready for use: Q3 2022;
- Commence installation of gensets in power plant, power building enclosed: Q3 2022;
- Start of pre-production mining: Q4 2022;
- Truck shop, warehouse, process plant (HPRG, crushing and main buildings) ready to enclose: Q4 2022;
- Leach tanks installed: Q4 2022;
- Ball mills received: Q1 2023;
- Crushers installed: Q3 2023;
- TSF complete: Q4 2023;
- Highway 11 realignment complete: Q4 2023
- Commissioning: Q1-Q2 2024; and
- Gold pour: Q2 2024.