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NYSE-A: EQX US$
Mesquite Gold Mine
Producing gold in California
Mesquite has been operating since 1986 as an open-pit heap leach mine.
~87,800 oz gold
$1,415-$1,480 per oz AISC
471 Koz @ 0.48 g/t gold
1,384 Koz @ 0.41 g/t gold
Mining and processing
Open-pit / heap leach
Estimated mine life
~2 years + residual leaching
Mesquite is an open pit, run-of-mine heap leach gold mine located in Imperial County, California, USA, approximately 200 miles south of our Castle Mountain Mine, 16 miles west of the state border with Arizona and 24 miles north of the border with Mexico. Mesquite has produced more than five million ounces of gold since it commenced operations in 1986, with annual gold production averaging approximately 125,000 ounces over the last 10 years.
Mesquite was Equinox Gold’s first operating mine. The Company acquired Mesquite in October 2018, immediately transforming Equinox Gold from a developer to a gold producer. Since then, strong gold prices and exploration success have significantly extended the mine life, bringing consistent cash flow to the Company and substantial value to Equinox Gold shareholders.
Inflationary pressures during 2022 hit Mesquite particularly hard, since the mine’s most significant consumables of diesel, cyanide and lime experienced massive price increases. To reduce costs during 2023, mining at Mesquite has pivoted to a small-pit approach to reduce waste stripping. While this will reduce production in 2023, exploration and permitting will continue to enable mine life extensions beyond 2023.
Production at Mesquite in 2023 is forecast at 80,000 to 90,000 ounces of gold with all-in sustaining costs between $1,415 to $1,480 per ounce of gold sold. Sustaining capital of $5 million is primarily for open-pit waste stripping. Non-sustaining capital of $16 million is mostly for lease payments for the mining fleet ($13 million) with the remainder allocated to exploration.
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Mining and Processing
Mining is performed using owner-operated, conventional truck and shovel open pit mining methods. Run-of-mine ore is hauled directly to the leach pad for processing, with a standard carbon-in-column circuit to recover gold. While the Company is mining one ore body, it commences waste stripping of a new deposit to provide the next source of ore. Equinox Gold is currently stripping two new ore bodies that will provide ore during 2023.
Gold recoveries average approximately 75% for oxide ore and 35% for non‐oxide ore, with a 90-day leach cycle. Residual leaching of previously leached ore is anticipated to continue for two to three years after final ore is placed, providing continued gold production even after mining has ceased.
Exploration and Geology
Since acquiring Mesquite in 2018, Equinox Gold has significantly extended the mine life by drilling historical waste dumps and historical leach pads to identify mineralization that is economic at current gold prices. In addition, there are a number of exploration targets within the Mesquite mine boundary, both within and adjacent to existing open pits. Ongoing efforts at Mesquite are focused on Mineral Resource growth at the Brownie, Vista East 2 and Rainbow deposits, as well as the conversion of Mineral Resources to Mineral Reserves via metallurgical test work, heap leach optimization studies, and the assessment and design of new leach pads to support mine life extension.
The Mesquite Mine district lies on the southwest flank of the Chocolate Mountains, in amphibolite grade metamorphic rocks of the upper plate of the Vincent‐Chocolate Mountain Thrust. The Mesquite Mine comprises two subparallel, Oligocene‐age deposits: Big Chief-Vista and Rainbow. Gold mineralization is hosted in Mesozoic gneisses that are intruded by biotite/muscovite rich granites. The district is covered by a thin veneer (up to 300 feet) of Tertiary and Quaternary sediments, shed from the south slope of the Chocolate Mountains. Gold mineralization is bound by post‐mineral faulting related to the San Andreas fault system.