Equinox Gold Corp. [EQX-TSXV, EQXGF-OTC] said Tuesday July 2 that it has achieved a key milestone by reaching the commercial production stage at its Aurizona Mine in Brazil
During the month of June 2019, the Aurizona processing plant operated at an average throughput rate of 90% of its name plate capacity of 8,200 tonnes per day, exceeded 90% average recovery and produced more than 7,000 ounces of gold.
Gold production is expected to continue to increase through the third and fourth quarters of 2019, with average life-of-mine production estimated at 136,000 ounces annually.
Equinox Gold shares advanced on the news, rising 0.84% or $0.01 to $1.20 on volume of almost 1.3 million. The shares are trading in a 52-week range of 85 cents and $1.45.
Led by financier Ross Beaty, Equinox Gold is a well-funded, multi-asset company. Its portfolio includes the wholly-owned, past-producing Aurizona gold mine, and wholly-owned past-producing Castle Mountain gold mine on the California-Nevada border. Equinox struck a deal with New Gold Inc. [NGD-TSX, NYSE American] in September, 2018, enabling it to acquire the Mesquite gold mine in California for $158 million cash.
The acquisition of the Mesquite Mine immediately established Equinox as a gold producer with 25,601 ounces of gold in 2018. Mesquite has produced an average of 135,000 ounces of gold annually for the past 10 years, after commencing operations in 1985.
The company’s primary focus has been on completing construction and achieving production at Aurizona. The company also recently completed a prefeasibility study for Castle Mountain with the objective of commissioning Phase 1 production by the end of 2019.
“Achieving commercial production at Aurizona is a significant milestone, making Equinox Gold a multi-mine producer and bringing us one step closer to having three mines in production in 2020,’’ said Equinox CEO Christian Milau.
“We are pleased that Arizona is ramping up quickly and thank our team, contractors and shareholders in Brazil for their hard work and support,” he said.
With commercial production at Aurizona achieved, the final condition pursuant to a previously announced corporate revolving credit facility has been completed and the remaining US$30 million of the total US$130 million has been made available to the company.
Monday’s announcement comes after Equinox recently completed an updated mineral resource estimate for its Aurizona Mine, and an updated mineral reserve and resource estimate for the Mesquite gold mine.
Equinox said its consolidated proven and probable reserves have increased by 470% since year-end 2017 to 5.5 million ounces of gold. Aurizona measured and indicated resources now stand at 692,000 ounces of contained gold. On top of that is an underground inferred resource of 1.1 million ounces of contained gold.
Mesquite measured and indicated resources stand at 1.9 million ounces of contained gold.
Equinox Gold has said expects to produce more than 230,000 ounces of gold in 2019 and will continue to grow its production profile with Castle Mountain development, exploration success and strategic acquisitions, the company has said.