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.