Mining kicks off at Aurizona

Canadian miner Equinox Gold is progressing toward production and first pour later this year with the start of mining activities at the Piaba deposit of the Aurizona gold operation in Brazil
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Equinox Gold's Aurizona gold operation in Brazil

Staff reporter

Contractor U&M Mineração e Construção was mobilised to the site in March, and mining commenced in mid-April, officials said late last week. Most staffing has been completed, and a majority of the mine's fleet is on-site.

With construction work now under way, the miner's goals include removal of waste from two areas of the Piaba pit and access road development. To help do that 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.

Ore mining should begin, Equinox said, during the September quarter, and once online it will be the company's first operating mine. Average production is projected to be 136,000oz/y.

"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," said CEO Christian Milau, noting that a resource update is in process to tie in findings from its 2017 exploration programme.

As of the end of March, the miner said the overall project was 44% complete and EPCM activities were at the 61% mark. Plant construction was 27% complete at that same time.

Carbon-in-pulp (CIP) circuit and detox tank refurbishments are now done, as are the concrete foundations and pedestals for the new sag and ball mills. Semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) and ball mill manufacturing has wrapped up and the components are en route with expected delivery in June.

To date, Equinox has spent US$43 million of the project's US$146 million construction budget, and another US$76 million is committed.

The company had completed 44% of the overall project and 61% of the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) activities at the end of March.

A total of US$43 million from the project's US$146 million construction budget has been spent to date, while an additional funding package of US$76 million was pledged at the end of March.

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