Status In production
Location California, USA
Production 25,000-35,000 oz in 2021
P&P Reserves 4,168 koz @ 0.51 g/t gold
M&I Resources 5,919 koz @ 0.54 g/t gold 1
Inferred Resources 1,608 koz @ 0.58 g/t gold
Mining Style Open-pit heap leach
PHASE 1 IN OPERATION, PERMITTING PHASE 2 EXPANSION
The Castle Mountain open-pit heap leach gold mine in San Bernardino County, California, approximately 200 miles north of Mesquite. Under a previous owner, Castle Mountain produced more than 1.3 million ounces of gold from 1992 to 2004, when the mine was closed due to low gold prices. With more than 4 million ounces of gold resources remaining, the previous owner knew the mine would eventually go back into production and kept the operating permits in good standing.
Equinox Gold acquired Castle Mountain in December 2017 and completed a pre-feasibility study in 2018 with the intention of restarting operations. The pre-feasibility study outlined a two-phase development plan, with annual average gold production of approximately 40,000 oz during Phase 1 using existing operating permits, and a Phase 2 expansion to more than 200,000 oz of gold per year.
Phase 1 construction activities commenced in October 2019 and commercial production was achieved in November 2020. The Castle Mountain team won the 2020 Chairman’s Safety Award for completing construction with no lost-time injuries.
Phase 1 consists of a run-of-mine heap leach operation processing primarily stockpiled ore from previous operations. With operations underway, Equinox Gold is preparing to permit the Phase 2 expansion, as described in Growth Projects.
|Mine Type||Open-pit heap leach|
|Current P&P Reserve||4,168 Koz @ 0.51 g/t Au|
|Current M&I Resource *||5,919 Koz @ 0.54 g/t Au|
|Annual Production||~25,000 oz gold in 2021|
|Mining Rate||12,700 tpd ore to leach pad|
|AISC||$1,590-1,640/oz in 2021|
* Resources are inclusive of Reserves.
CASTLE MOUNTAIN OPERATIONS
Mining is performed using owner-operated conventional truck and shovel open-pit mining methods and run-of-mine ore is hauled directly to the leach pad for processing. Loaded carbon is shipped to the Company’s Mesquite mine approximately 200 miles south, eliminating the need for an elution circuit at Castle Mountain and optimizing plant capacity at Mesquite.
For 2021, Equinox Gold expects Castle Mountain to produce between 20,000-30,000 oz of gold at AISC of $1,590-$1,640 per ounce of gold sold. Production is expected to increase with lower costs in future years as the mine benefits from optimization efforts to both the leach pad and plant.
On July 16, 2018, Equinox Gold released the results of a prefeasibility study for the Castle Mountain Gold Mine in California, USA. The prefeasibility contemplates developing the project in a phased ramp-up scenario. Phase 1 would be developed as an open-pit run-of-mine (“ROM”) heap leach mine leaching stockpile material from previous operations. Phase 2 would include milling of a limited stream of higher-grade material and ROM leaching of the balance. With 3.6 million oz of gold reserves, Castle Mountain would be a robust, low-cost gold mine producing 2.8 million ounces of gold over a 16-year mine life.
2018 Prefeasibility Study Highlights (US$)
|Gold price (base case)||$1,250/oz|
|P&P Reserve||3.6 Moz Au @ 0.56 g/t Au|
|M&I Resource (inclusive of reserves)||4.3 Moz Au @ 0.56 g/t Au|
|Mine Life||16 years|
|Phase 1 production (yrs 1-3)
Phase 2 production (yrs 4-16)
|Avg. 45 koz gold
Avg. 203 koz gold
|Strip Ratio / Recovery||3.6 / 79%|
|Total Production (LOM)||2.8 Moz gold|
Phase 1 $58 M
Phase 2 $175 M + Fleet
|Sustaining Capex||$142 M|
|Cash Cost (LOM)||$712/oz|
|Cash Flow (after tax) (LOM)||$865 M (net of initial capital)|
|NPV 5% (after tax)||$406 M ($534 M at $1,350/oz gold)|
|IRR (after tax)||20% (25% at $1,350/oz gold)|
The Castle Mountain Gold Mine produced more than 1.3 million ounces of gold from 1992 to 2004, when production ceased due to low gold prices. The property was substantially reclaimed from 2004 to 2012, but the project maintained its permits in good standing since operations ceased and had the key permits (San Bernardino County Conditional Use Permit and a Federal Record of Decision) required to commence Phase 1 production. The mine recommenced operations in September 2020 and is advancing a potential expansion that will increase production to approximately 200,000 ounces per year.