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First gold pour and silver doré at Cerro Moro mine

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

On 15 May 2018, Canada-based gold producer Yamana Gold, Inc. (Yamana) has achieved its first gold pour and silver doré at its Cerro Moro mine in Santa Cruz province (Argentina). The company has also provided several other updates relating to Cerro Moro including an update on exploration. The Cerro Moro mine is a high-grade gold and silver operation sourcing ore from a combination of underground and open pit mining.

The production ramp-up of Cerro Moro continues to track according to plan with commercial production expected in the second quarter of 2018.

Operational outlook

The company expects most of Cerro Moro’s 2018 production in the second half of the year. With the ramp up of production underway, the company is focusing on ensuring mill throughput rates reach nameplate capacity of 1000 tpd, and that grades and recoveries reconcile to plan.  As of current date, ramp up of mining and milling is well on track, with the major equipment performing to design during usual performance tests and commencement of operations.  While the ramp up remains the primary focus, efforts are already shifting to optimising the operation and, in particular, ensuring that operating costs reach guidance levels.

The stockpile at Cerro Moro has continued to increase since year-end 2017 and through the first quarter of 2018. As of 6 May 2018, the stockpile was estimated at 42 300 t at 21.5 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 995 g/t silver, providing added flexibility to the mine plan for 2018.  The operation has reached the planned six weeks of stockpiled ore, ahead of schedule which was originally the end of this quarter, and the grades are higher than planned.

For 2018 and 2019, the company expects average co-product cash costs of CAN$500/oz gold and CAN$6.70/oz silver, and co-product AISC of CAN$650/oz gold and CAN$8.85/oz silver.

Cerro Moro exploration activities

The exploration programme at Cerro Moro and in the mine district commenced in the second half of 2017 after a two-year period in which the primary focus was on mine engineering and construction activities. The company has set an exploration objective of adding one million gold equivalent ounces (GEO) to the mineral inventory at Cerro Moro in the next several years.  Achieving this goal should provide further options for mine development including the potential to add a dedicated power line and reducing production costs.

To this end, the company has allocated CAN$11.2 million for exploration in 2018 (expanded from CAN$9 million in the first quarter of 2018).  The additional funding will come from a discretionary portion of the exploration budget that was set aside at the beginning of the year and is to be allocated to those mines and assets returning the best results.

The Cerro Moro deposit is located in the Deseado Massif, which is a tectonic block in the central-portion of the Santa Cruz Province, covering an area of approximately 60 000 km2. The deposit consists of a series of low to intermediate sulfidation veins with high-grade gold-silver mineralisation. The epithermal veins are relatively narrow subverticals with horizontal width ranging from 0.1 - 5 m, strike length from 100 - 4000 m and depth at 300 m maximum.  Twelve zones have been delineated to date - Escondida, Martina, Zoe, Loma Escondida, Patricia, Nini Esperanza, Gabriela, Carla, Carlita, Deborah, Margarita and Veronica.  Cerro Moro is located on prospective ground with significant potential to expand mineral resources and ultimately extend the life of the operation.  Moreover, the company has only begun to explore the regional potential of the 284 900 ha land package and intends to take a systematic approach toward exploration initiatives to ensure it maximises the value potential of Cerro Moro.

Yamana’s objectives for the 2018 exploration programme are:

  • To convert 110 000 GEO of inferred mineral resources to measured and indicated mineral resources;
  • To discover 250 000 GEO of new inferred mineral resources; and
  • To define future drill targets through scout drilling, soil and rock sampling, and mapping.
  • Drilling relating to the mineral resource conversion objective began in the second quarter as planned.  The company believes that this objective is highly achievable by year-end.

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