Equinox Gold has announced it is close to commencement of commercial production at its Aurizona mine in Brazil, due to begin in Q1 2019.
The Canadian junior states Aurizona will be a low-cost open-pit gold mine, with average annual production estimated at 136,000 ounces per year.
The Aurizona Gold Mine previously produced gold from 2010 to 2015 and significant infrastructure remains at site. All major mine elements were already in place, including a tailings facility and waste dumps, a dedicated power line, camp offices and accommodations, water, roads and communications.
The re-engineered mine plan for Aurizona includes an entirely new crushing and grinding circuit that will allow all known types of mineral bearing rock at Aurizona to be processed through the gold recovery plant. Processing capacity will also be increased from 5,500 tpd to 8,000 tpd. Primary construction activities to achieve production included raising the existing tailings storage facility, upgrading the power substation, and replacing the front end of the existing plant, including installing a primary crusher, SAG and ball mills, pebble crusher, surge bin and temporary stockpile.
Equinox Gold produced approximately 26,000 ounces of gold in 2018 from its recently acquired Mesquite Mine in California, and expects to produce from 230-265,000 ounces of gold in 2019 from Mesquite and its Aurizona Mine in Brazil at all-in- sustaining costsof $900/oz to $950/oz.
Equinox CEO Christian Milau commented:“Equinox Gold has achieved tremendous growth over the last year and will soon become a multi-mine gold producer. This momentum will continue in 2019 as we plan for construction at our Castle Mountain Mine, capitalize on growth opportunities at our existing assets and continue to assess accretive acquisition opportunities.”
The previously-mined Castle Mountain is about 320km north of Mesquite and is projected to initially produce 45,000 ounces of gold per year beginning in 2020. Then, output is expected to jump to more than 200,000 ounces annually during years four to 16.
The Castle Mountain heap leach gold mine in California produced more than one million ounces of gold from 1992 to 2004. Equinox Gold intends to put the mine back into production with the expectation of producing 2.8 million ounces of gold over a 16-year mine life.