By Peter Kennedy
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. [FVI-TSX, Lima; FSM-NYSE; F4S-FSE] on Thursday September 3 said the first gold pour is expected to occur at its Lindero gold project in northern Argentina by early October 2020.
In a news release, the company said construction and commissioning activities at Lindero are advancing according to a plan that was outlined by the company in May, 2020.
Proven and probable reserves stand at 84.2 million tonnes grading 0.63 g/t gold and 0.11% copper or 1.7 million ounces.
Fortuna shares were largely unchanged on the news, rising 0.11% or $0.01 to $9.19 on volume of 836,705. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $9.82 and $2.05.
Fortuna is a growth-oriented precious metals producer with a focus on Latin America. Its key assets are the Caylloma silver mine in southern Peru, the San Jose silver-gold mine in Mexico and the Lindero Project, located in the Argentinian puna at an elevation of approximately 3,500 metres and 260 km due west of Salta City.
Lindero has been designed as an 18,750 tonne-per-day, owner-operated, open pit mine with a pit life of 13 years based on existing mineral reserves. Under the plan, crushed ore will be placed on a leach pad with pregnant solution pumped to Sulphidization-Acidifcation-Recycling-Thickening (SART) and Absorption, Desorption and Recovery (ADR) plants prior to electrowinning and refining. Gold will be poured as doré bars. The initial capital budget was estimated at US$298 million. But management still expects total construction capital spending of between US$314 million and US$320 million.
On Thursday the company said it has started the irrigation and leaching of ore placed on the heap leach pad. Ore for the commissioning and initial ramp-up of the crushing circuit and stacking on the heap leach pad is being sourced from the medium grade coarse ore stockpile inventory of approximately 1.0 million tonnes averaging 0.55 g/t gold.
From July 2020, to December 2020, an estimated 1.7 million to 1.9 million tonnes of ore are scheduled to be placed on the leach pad with an average grade of 1.00 g/t to 1.10 g/t.
As of August 31, 2020, 277,000 tonnes of ore averaging 0.87 g/t gold containing an estimated 7,750 ounces of gold had been placed on the leach pad.
Earlier this year the company said it expected to produce between 7.5 and 8.3 million ounces of silver and between 101,000 and 125,000 ounces of gold from its operations in Latin America.
However, in April 2020, the company withdrew its production and cost guidance for 2020 due to uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting constraints on its business and operations.
Operations at the San Jose Mine were suspended for 54 days from April 2, to May 25, 2020 due to government-mandated industry-wide constraints related to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Production at the Caylloma Mine was not disrupted. The mine initially operated by drawing ore from its coarse ore stockpile, and as the stockpile decreased, the mine re-started using a reduced task force.
In March, 2020, construction activities at Lindero were also halted temporarily.
However, Fortuna said it produced 1.27 million ounces of silver and 7,099 ounces of gold in the second quarter of 2020.