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Aurizona gold mine obtains approval to begin full-scale construction

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

The Board of Directors of Equinox Gold Corp. has approved the start of full-scale construction at the Aurizona Gold Mine (Aurizona) in Brazil.

Early works construction has been underway at Aurizona since 3Q17. The project is advancing well and remains on track to pour gold by late 2018.

Activities to date have focussed on detailed engineering work, raising the existing tailings facility, refurbishment of existing plant infrastructure, civil earthworks and pouring foundations to prepare for installation of new plant infrastructure, installation of new administrative buildings and ordering long-lead items.

“With expansion permits, full construction funding and the new Equinox Gold Board of Directors in place, we have received approval for full-scale construction at the Aurizona Gold Mine in Brazil,” said CEO of Equinox Gold, Christian Milau.

“This will be a milestone year for Equinox Gold as we advance Aurizona and transition the company from a developer to a meaningful producer, with more than 135 000 oz of annual gold production expected from Aurizona.”

“The Aurizona project has been significantly advanced and de-risked over the past few months with early works construction and critical path activities,” said COO of Equinox Gold, David Laing.

Laing added: “The tailings dam raise is nearly complete, the mills are ordered and significant civil earthworks has been completed in preparation for installation of the mills and other new plant infrastructure. We look forward to reporting on construction milestones as we advance toward our target of pouring gold in late 2018.”

Equinox Gold’s Board of Directors has approved a total project budget of US$146 million for full-scale construction, which includes all working capital and a 12% contingency. Approximately US$25 million of this budget was spent in 2017 during early works activities and the project remains on schedule and on budget. Aurizona construction is fully funded with Equinox Gold’s existing treasury and an US$85 million secured project credit facility, from which the company has drawn US$15 million to date.  

Tailings Facility Raise

The existing tailings facility is being raised to support expanded throughput to 8000 tpd. The raise is being executed by the Engeterra-Nazaré consortium under the supervision of the structure designers BVP Engenharia. The tailings facility capacity will be expanded in three lifts, with the first expansion scheduled for completion in January 2018 and two additional lifts to be completed approximately every two years thereafter.

Process Plant Equipment Procurement and Refurbishment

Aurizona is a brownfields project endowed with considerable existing infrastructure including access roads, a dedicated and reliable powerline, significant process plant equipment, offices, warehouses, laboratories, communications and a camp.

The plant design is based on a process plant capable of treating 8000 tpd of ore through a combination of conventional gravity concentration and cyanide leach/CIP (carbon in pulp) processes. The design includes a new comminution circuit which comprises a primary jaw crusher, SAG (semi-autogenous grinding) mill, ball mill and pebble crusher. The jaw crusher and the mills have been ordered and delivery of the mills to site is expected during 2Q18.

Repairing, refurbishing and improving the existing process plant equipment resulted in cost efficiencies and a reduced construction timeline. There is also a large inventory of equipment on site that was either never commissioned or installed.

Completing the installation and upgrades to existing equipment includes cyclones, the intensive leach reactor, three leach tanks, the high-rate thickener, and a new 12.5 MW main transformer as well as a new pressurised elution circuit and commissioning the carbon regeneration kiln. Refurbishing includes the CIP circuits, and additional improvements to the existing process plant includes upgrades to the cyanide destruction and tailings deposition system, gravity recovery circuit, electrical supply and distribution system, and instrumentation and controls. 

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