Aurizona construction is fully funded and full-scale construction is underway, with the target of pouring gold at Aurizona by the end of 2018. Aurizona will be a low-cost open-pit gold mine, with average annual production estimated at 136,000 ounces per year.
Aurizona is a past-producing gold mine with significant infrastructure remaining at site, resulting in a short construction timeline and low initial capital to build an 8,000 tpd plant to produce on average 136,000 ounces of gold per year. The Board of Directors’ approved construction budget of US$146 million includes all working capital and a 12% contingency, with life-of-mine sustaining capital estimated at US$51 million.
Key facts *
Paved road or airstrip
136,000 oz gold per year
Initial capital *
US$146 M ($165/oz)
US$51 M ($54/oz)
NPV5% (after tax)
US$197 M (at US$1,250 gold)
All-in sustaining costs
Avg. annual cash flow
US$65 M (net)
* Based on the July 2017 feasibility study, with initial capital updated to reflect the project budget approved in January 2018.
The Aurizona Gold Mine produced gold from 2010 to 2015 and significant infrastructure remains at site. All major mine elements are already in place, including a tailings facility and waste dumps, a dedicated power line, camp offices and accommodations, water, roads and communications.
The re-engineered mine plan for Aurizona includes an entirely new crushing and grinding circuit that will allow all known types of mineral bearing rock at Aurizona to be processed through the gold recovery plant. Processing capacity will also be increased from 5,500 tpd to 8,000 tpd. Primary construction activities to achieve production include raising the existing tailings storage facility, upgrading the power substation, and replacing the front end of the existing plant, including installing a primary crusher, SAG and ball mills, pebble crusher, surge bin and temporary stockpile.
Construction is proceeding on schedule and on budget, with first gold pour targeted for year-end 2018. At the end of March 2018 the overall project was 44% complete. Plant construction was 27% complete and refurbishment of the existing CIP circuit and detox tanks was 100% complete. Concrete foundations and pedestals for the new SAG and bill mills were in place and the new mills were en route to Aurizona, with delivery at site expected in June. Additional information about construction progress is outlined in the April 25 press release.
Initial Capex (July 2017 feasibility numbers)
Treatment Plant & Repairs
Reagents & Plant Services
Waste Storage Facilities
Total Initial Capital
Closure Costs (net of salvage value)
Total Sustaining Capital
production targeted for year-end 2018
Aurizona will be an open-pit gold mine producing on average 136,000 ounces of gold per year. All-in sustaining costs are estimated at US$754/oz of gold produced, putting Aurizona in the lowest quartile of the industry average.
Current M&I Resource *
1.4 Moz @ 1.57 g/t Au
Current P&P Reserve
971 koz @ 1.52 g/t Au
Initial Mine Life
Annual Production (LOM)
Avg. ~136,000 oz gold
Total Production (LOM)
885,700 oz gold
Strip Ratio / Recovery
5.7:1 / 91%
Cash Cost (LOM)
Annual Net Cash Flow
Avg. US$65 M
Cumulative Net Cash Flow (LOM)
* Resources are inclusive of Reserves.
Mine life extension
While Equinox Gold is focused on restarting operations at Aurizona, the Company will undertake an aggressive exploration program concurrent with construction and production. Management believes the mine life can be extended with exploration success, and drilling is underway to test high-priority drill targets that could extend mineralization up to 4.5 km to the west of the existing pit. Results to date confirm that gold mineralization persists below the westernmost reserve pit and extends at least 350 metres to the west.
Aurizona exploration is a key driver for Equinox Gold’s growth
The approximately 2,250 km2 land package at the Aurizona Project provides an exciting exploration and growth opportunity for Equinox Gold, with near-mine (pink), regional (orange) and district level (green) exploration potential. Equinox Gold’s current exploration focus is on near-mine targets that could expand the resource base and extend the Aurizona mine life.
Extending the mine life
The current reserve model for Aurizona outlines a 6.5-year mine life based on reserves identified in the Piaba and Boa Esperança pits. Equinox Gold believes the mine life can be extended with exploration success along strike from existing reserves, and has commenced drilling to test high-priority targets that could extend mineralization up to five km to the west of the existing Piaba pit.
Surface exploration, geophysics and drilling at Aurizona have identified a structurally controlled mineralized corridor, represented in pink in the map above, that includes the Piaba deposit and continues another five km along strike to the west. High-priority drill targets along this mineralized trend include Piaba West and Tatajuba. Drilling is underway at Piaba West, with plans to commence exploration at Tatajuba in 2018.
Results to date at Piaba West have confirmed that mineralization extends at least 350 metres along strike to the west, and also at depth below the shallow, westernmost reserve pit.
Confirming continuity of the mineralized zone
The Piaba West target is an approximately 900-metre long extension of the Piaba pit. Previous drilling at Piaba West confirmed extension of the mineralized zone and encountered mineralized intervals similar to those seen in the Piaba deposit.
Equinox Gold drilled nearly 20,000 metres at Piaba West in 2017 and intersected broad zones of ore-grade mineralization on strike and to depth, including shallow and higher-grade mineralization both below the pit and more than 350 metres along strike. Highlights include:
5.06 g/t gold over 20 metres in BRAZP596, starting 20 metres below surface at the western edge of the reserve pit
19.65 g/t gold over 1 metre and 67.09 g/t gold over 5 metres in BRAZP587, starting 92 metres below surface, 50 metres to the west of the reserve pit
3.90 g/t gold over 11 metres in BRAZP575, starting 50 metres below surface, 300 metres to the west of the reserve pit
These results will be incorporated into a resource update in mid-2018 with the objective of expanding the resource base and demonstrating mine life extension for Aurizona.
Gold mineralization at Piaba West is hosted in a northern, hanging wall sequence composed mainly of diorite and quartz diorite intrusives with subordinate dacitic volcanics. The mineralized zone dips steeply (80°) to the north north-west with gold occurring with disseminated sulphide and in several generations of quartz veins within the intrusives and volcanics. Hydrothermal alteration is intense and is dominated by silica-graphite-chlorite-carbonate-sericite-pyrite. Zones (shoots) of high-grade gold mineralization controlled by oblique shear zones occur within the mineralized areas.
A potential 4km extension along strike from Piaba West
The Tatajuba target is situated on the same structure as the Piaba deposit and represents a potential four-km extension of the Piaba Trend. Previous drilling at Tatajuba has encountered mineralization similar to that found in the Piaba pit, but often at higher grades.
Equinox Gold hopes to commence exploration of this promising target in 2018. The Tatajuba target is close enough to the Piaba deposit and Aurizona mine facilities that ore could be trucked to site and processed at the main plant.
Like Piaba, Tatajuba contains gold mineralization associated with a sub-vertical to moderately north-dipping structure. Mineralization is hosted in a mafic to ultramafic volcano-sedimentary sequence and is similar to Piaba. There is a strong weathering overprint to the alteration zones at Tatajuba, in addition to a discrete zone of strong fracturing infilled by graphite, which has been overprinted by a later chlorite-iron carbonate fracture controlled alteration. The background alteration is chlorite and albite with calcite/dolomite.
50km of cumulative strike
The Aurizona Project land package includes 450 km2 of exploration licenses that Equinox Gold refers to as its “brownfields exploration properties”, shown in orange on the map to the right. Limited surface work and drilling on these properties has identified a number of drill targets that will be explored in the second phase of Equinox Gold’s exploration program.
Surface exploration in the brownfields properties has identified more than 50 km cumulative strike of structures, shown as grey lines on the map, with anomalous to high-grade soil and rock geochemistry. Additional surface exploration, coupled with airborne surveys and geophysics data, will allow Equinox Gold to identify drill targets and commence regional exploration in the brownfields properties.
Touro is one of the key brownfields targets. Located approximately 15 km southwest of Piaba, Touro is similar in scale to the Piaba deposit with a footprint of more than 6 km2. While drilling at Touro has been limited to date, the mineralization encountered is similar to that seen in the Piaba deposit, making Touro a high-priority target for Equinox Gold’s second phase of exploration.
The Aurizona Project land package includes approximately 1,800 km2 of exploration licenses that Equinox Gold refers to as its “greenfields exploration properties”, shown in green in the map below. The regional geology of the greenfields properties is similar to the geology that underlies the Piaba Deposit.
The São Luis Craton, which hosts the Piaba Deposit, consists of the Paleoproterozoic Aurizona Group metavolcano-sedimentary succession, volcanics and granitoids of the Tromaí Intrusive Suite covered by Phanerozoic sedimentary basin deposits and recent coastal sediments. Structural trends throughout the São Luis Craton are dominated by north north-east to south south-west and west north-west to east south-east trending structures and there is a strong association between gold occurrences and structural lineaments, which form distinct gold corridors.
The greenfields exploration properties were explored for two years in a joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti Holdings plc. AngloGold spent approximately US$9 million at the greenfields concessions from August 2016 to July 2018, completing more than 43,000 line-kilometres of high-resolution aeromagnetic, radiometric, and electromagnetic surveying over the entire property, approximately 10,000 metres of drilling on eight targets, and extensive soil geochemistry and geologic mapping surveys. AngloGold also applied considerable effort to social engagement, establishing strong communication and relationships with local landowners that Equinox Gold will maintain with the objective of restarting regional exploration efforts in the future.
Equinox Gold has received all data acquired through AngloGold’s exploration activities and retains a 100% interest in the greenfields concession. AngloGold’s exploration programs significantly advanced regional geological models and highlighted several untested targets that warrant further exploration. While Equinox Gold’s current priority in the region is near-mine exploration at the Aurizona Gold Mine to expand the reserve and resource base, the Company will continue to review and interpret AngloGold’s exploration data to prioritize regional exploration targets for future drilling, on its own or with a joint venture partner.