Aura Minerals Inc. [ORA-TSX, AURA33-SA] on Tuesday it is set to focus on expanding the mill capacity after achieving commercial production at its Almas Gold Project, an open pit mine located in the state of Tocatins, Brazil.
In line with the company’s strategy to start small and optimize upfront capital expenditures, the company is now focused on investing in increasing the mill’s capacity from 1.3 million tonnes annually to 1.5 million tonnes per year. During the balance of this year, Aura plans to invest about US$3.5 million to increase the mill’s capacity to target levels.
The Almas mill is operating above 100% of the design capacity, processing 4,000 tonnes-per-day, with recoveries consistently above 90% and ranging up to 92%. Approximately 4,661 ounces of gold were produced in August, 2023, with gross revenues of approximately US$9 million.
Aura shares were almost unchanged on the news, easing 0.44% or $0.04 to $8.96. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $12.14 and $7.30.
News that Aura has achieved commercial production at Almas comes just days after the company announced the results of a feasibility study for the Borborema project in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Borborema will be an open-pit gold mine with anticipated production of 748,000 ounces of gold over an initial 11.3-year mine life.
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.
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.