Equinox Gold Corp says mining activities are underway at its new Santa Luz gold mine in Brazil, with commissioning on track for the December quarter ahead of first gold pour in the March quarter of 2022.
The company expects to produce 110,000 oz/y of gold for the first five years of operations.
The mining contractor, U&M Mineração e Construção S/A, mobilised to site in May and mining commenced in mid-June. Mining activities are currently focused on removing waste from two locations and developing access roads, ramps, dumps and ore storage areas in preparation for a pre-stripping campaign prior to mining ore in late 2021. To make room for mine expansion, U&M is also relocating an existing ore stockpile with an average grade of 0.9 g/t Au, which will be used for commissioning activities in the December quarter.
Construction is on schedule and on budget, with approximately $31 million of the $103 million construction budget spent and $70 million committed at the end of June 2021.
As a brownfield past-producing mine, the majority of site services and infrastructure is already in place at Santa Luz, Equinox said. Restart activities are focused on refurbishing existing infrastructure, retrofitting the plant to incorporate resin-in-leach processing, installation of additional grinding infrastructure and increasing the storage capacities of the existing tailings and water storage facilities. A significant construction milestone was achieved on June 25 with installation of the first segment of the ball mill.
Construction highlights include:
- Overall project is 41% complete;
- Engineering and procurement activities are 96% complete;
- Plant construction and refurbishment is 46% complete;
- Refurbishment of existing SAG mill is progressing well;
- Primary grinding is 75% complete;
- Secondary grinding is 52% complete: concrete foundations and pedestals for the new ball mill are 100% complete, ball mill installation is underway;
- Pre-conditioning, leach and detoxification circuit is 46% complete: concrete bases are complete, steel structures are being pre-assembled and tank installation is underway, with four tanks out of 10 fully erected and four more partially erected;
- Earthworks for primary crushing area are underway;
- Electrical and substation upgrades are 90% complete;
- Electrowinning cells have been installed in the gold room;
- Completion of refurbishment of existing plant areas is scheduled for the September quarter; and
- Tailings and water storage facility expansions are underway with completion targeted for the December quarter.