Aura starts gold production at Brazil mine

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Aura Minerals Inc. [ORA-TSX, AURA32-B3] has achieved a major milestone by starting production at its Almas Gold Project, an open pit mine located in the state of Tocatins, Brazil.

“We have hit a major milestone in our company history today with the start of production at our first ever greenfield project completed in only 16 months and expected capex (capital expenditures) of approximately US$78 million, with no material deviation from the project budget, despite challenges related to procurement, the pandemic and inflationary pressures,’’ said Aura President and CEO Rodrigo Barbosa.

Aura shares declined on the news, easing 2.1% or 23 cents to $1 and0.70. The shares now trade in a 52-week range of $12.14 and $6.49.

Aura is a mid-tier gold and copper production company with a focus on development and operation of gold and base metal projects in the Americas. Its producing assets include the San Andres gold mine in Honduras, the EPP gold mine complex in Brazil, the Aranzazu copper-gold-silver mine in Mexico, and the Gold Road (pre-operational) gold mine in Arizona.

The company has two additional gold projects in Brazil (Almas and Matupa) and one gold project in Colombia (Tolda Fria).

Average annual gold production at Almas is estimated at 51,000 ounces during the first four years. The mine is expected to have a lifespan of 17 years.

Aura produced 53,265 gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) in the first quarter of 2023, down from 61,041 ounces in the same period last year. Production in the last 12 months exceeded 234,748 GEOs at the end of the first quarter of 2023. The Aranzazu mine produced 26,462 GEO ounces in the first quarter of 2023.

“We have important milestone to reach in 2023 that will enable us to hit our 450,000 annualized GEO production guidance in 2025,’’ said Barbosa. The Almas mine is expected to reach commercial production in the second half of 2023.

Almas consists of three deposits (Paiol, Vira Saia and Cata Funda) and several exploration targets, including Nova Prata/Espinheiro, Jacobina and Morro do Carneiro. Of these, only three deposits, Paiol, Vira Saia and Cata Funda, have seen significant exploration work.

Measured and indicated resources at the Almas Gold project stand at 23.2 million tonnes, grading 1.00 g/t gold or 745,445 ounces. Mineral reserves at the site are estimated to be 20.6 million tonnes of grade 0.92 g/t gold or 608,373 ounces. The project contains a heap leach stockpile of 36,900 ounces.

The Almas project was added to Aura’s portfolio early in 2018 as a result of a merger with Rio Novo Gold.

The company believes Almas has the potential to increase mineral resources and reserves in certain areas within its existing permits with additional exploration activities.

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