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Aurizona Gold Mine
Producing gold in Brazil
Aurizona is an open-pit gold mine with underground expansion potential.
~120,600 oz gold
$1,410-$1,500 per oz AISC
1,660 Koz @ 1.60 g/t gold
868 Koz @ 1.49 g/t gold
Mining and processing
Open-pit / CIL plant
Estimated mine life
~11 years (including underground)
Aurizona is located in northeastern Brazil near the town of Godofredo Viana in Maranhão State, and within 3 km of an Atlantic Ocean inlet. Aurizona is accessible by road from São Luis (340 km) or Belem (380 km). Equinox Gold assumed management of the Aurizona mine in 2016 when it was on care and maintenance. A feasibility study was completed in 2017, construction and refurbishment of existing infrastructure began in early 2018 and commercial production was achieved in July 2019. Since re-commencing operations, Aurizona has produced on average more than 125,000 ounces of gold per year.
Current mining operations occur in the Piaba open pit, which is part of a 4-km long gold deposit that trends east-northeast in a single continuous zone. In September 2021, the Company completed a pre-feasibility study demonstrating that mining the Piaba underground deposit and additional open pit satellite deposits concurrent with the existing Piaba open pit will nearly double the mine life to 11 years and also increase gold production, with peak annual production estimated at more than 160,000 ounces of gold per year. A feasibility study for the underground expansion is targeted for completion in mid-2023.
Production at Aurizona for 2023 is forecast at 120,000 to 130,000 ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs between $1,410 to $1,500 per ounce of gold sold. Sustaining capital of $45 million is primarily for open-pit waste stripping and construction of a new tailings facility, as well as water management and infrastructure upgrades. Non-sustaining capital of $6 million is primarily for exploration.
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Mining and Processing
Mining is performed by a mining contractor with conventional truck and shovel operations at a rate of up to 27 Mtpa (ore and waste) at a strip ratio of approximately 7:1. Ore is delivered to an 8,000 tonnes-per-day crushing and grinding circuit and processed in a carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant. Gold recovery averages more than 91%.
Aurizona experiences a very dry summer (generally August to December) and a tropical rainy season (typically January to July) and the majority of the 3,000+ mm of annual rainfall occurs in the rainy season. The majority of waste stripping and mining occurs during the drier summer months and a large ore stockpile is created to supplement process plant feed during the rainy season when access to the higher-grade ore in the lower benches of the pit is restricted. As a result, gold production is lower in the first half of the year and increases in the second half when mining of higher-grade ore occurs.
Exploration and Geology
The Aurizona property has a long history of artisanal gold production dating back to the 17th century. Mineralization is characterized as a greenstone-hosted orogenic gold system and occurs as structurally-controlled gold deposits including the Piaba deposit, which is currently being mined.
The Piaba gold deposit contains gold mineralization in a vein system that extends at least 4 km along strike with smaller satellite deposits to the west (Tatajuba) and east of the main Piaba deposit. Drilling has shown that gold mineralization also extends below the ultimate open pit to depths greater than 1,000 m from surface. Since 2020, more than 40,000 m has been drilled in the Piaba underground deposit, at Tatajuba and in satellite near-surface deposits to the east. The Company believes the Aurizona mine life can be further extended with exploration success and is currently testing high-priority drill targets that could extend mineralization up to 4.5 km to the west of the existing Piaba open pit. There is also significant potential to establish a mining district by exploring and developing additional mineralized targets on the Company’s more than 1,000 km2 land package.
Mining the underground and satellite open pit deposits concurrently with the existing Piaba open pit would nearly double the mine life and increase gold production to ~140,000 oz per year.Learn More