Aya Gold & Silver Inc. [AYA-TSX; MYAGF-OTC] reported silver production of 338,624 ounces at an average grade of 242 g/t silver in the third quarter of 2021 from its 85%-owned Zgounder Silver Mine in the Kingdom of Morocco.
Silver production in Q3 was a 198% increase compared to 113,655 oz silver in Q3-2020. The increase in 2021 production guidance to 1.55 million oz silver was a 29% increase over initial guidance of 1.20 million oz silver. The silver recovery of 81% in Q3-2021 was a 29% increase compared to 63% in Q3-2020.
Benoit La Salle, President and CEO, said, “This was a solid operational quarter where the changes implemented over the past year enabled the mine to deliver 338,624 ounces. This represents nearly triple last year’s Q3 production and is in line with our turnaround plan. Despite the hot, summer months, we intensified capital project development activities to further upgrade our mining facilities and achieve additional operational efficiencies. The better than anticipated operational performance and execution gives us the confidence to increase Zgounder’s production guidance by 29% to 1.55 million ounces for the year.”
The slight decrease in Q3-2021 recovery relative to 82% in Q2-2021 is primarily due to a lower silver recovery of 79% at the cyanidation plant. The reduction in recovery during summer months is due to lower freshwater intake and excess evaporation in the tailings dam. These two issues are being addressed by the construction of a water retention basin and a tailings thickener to minimize water discharge to the tailings dam. Recovery in the quarter still exceeded the Q3-2021 budgeted recovery.
In the quarter, plant availabilities reached 87% and 89% for the flotation and cyanidation plants, respectively. Availability was impacted by a two-day planned shutdown of the flotation plant and by a two-day unplanned shutdown of the cyanidation plant to work on a ball mill.
The quarter also saw extensive development of capital projects including refurbishment activities at the cyanidation plant, replacement of the flotation plant cone crusher to a new, higher performance model, ongoing construction of a new underground explosive depot, and start of construction of a new mine access at the 2,075-metre level.