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Equinox Gold Q1 Mineral Reserves

Equinox Gold Corp. (TSX:EQX, NYSE:EQX) ("Equinox Gold" or the "Company") has completed updated Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource estimates for its Aurizona Gold Mine ("Aurizona") in

Benzinga · 05/12/2020 21:44

Equinox Gold Corp. (TSX:EQX, NYSE:EQX) ("Equinox Gold" or the "Company") has completed updated Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource estimates for its Aurizona Gold Mine ("Aurizona") in northeastern Brazil and for its Mesquite Gold Mine ("Mesquite") in California, USA.

Highlights

  • Aurizona exploration success offset 2019 mining depletion with Proven and Probable Reserves essentially unchanged at 19.8 million tonnes ("Mt") grading 1.51 grams per tonne ("g/t") gold for 958,000 ounces ("oz") of contained gold
  • Aurizona Measured and Indicated ("M&I") Resources increased 22% to 844,000 oz of contained gold through the addition of a maiden Indicated Resource at Tatajuba of 2.1 Mt grading 1.62 g/t gold for 112,000 oz of contained gold
  • At Mesquite, newly identified mineralized material within dumps from historical operations accounted for greater than 60% of gold production in 2019
  • Immediate additional exploration upside at Mesquite from over 40 million tons of potentially mineralized oxide dump material and new in-pit and near-pit targets

 

Christian Milau, CEO of Equinox Gold, stated: "Exploration efforts at Aurizona in 2019 successfully replaced mined reserves and increased mineral resources with the addition of a maiden open-pit resource at Tatajuba. Exploration at Aurizona during 2020 will focus on adding further resources along the Piaba trend, expanding the Tatajuba resource and upgrading inferred resources to indicated in the Piaba underground area to support a pre-feasibility study for the potential underground mine. Collectively, these endeavours are focused on extending the mine life, optimizing operations and increasing annual production at Aurizona."

Mr. Milau added: "When we acquired Mesquite in October 2018, gold was $1,200 per ounce and the mine had a three-year reserve mine life followed by several years of significant cash flow from residual leaching. Our exploration team has extended the mine life, identifying ounces in historical mineralized dumps and leach pads with gold grades above our current cut-off grade. As a result of these efforts, after more than a year and a half of mining we still have a reserve mine life of more than two years plus residual leaching ahead of us, with a gold price significantly higher than in 2018. The current 24,500-metre drill program will test further upside in the historical dumps and new targets with the expectation of demonstrating further mine life extension."

Technical reports for each project will be filed within 45 days on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, on EDGAR at www.sec.gov/EDGAR and on the Company's website at www.equinoxgold.com. Mineral Reserves and Mineral Resources are reported in compliance with CIM Definition Standards (2014) using a gold price of $1,350 and $1,500 per oz, respectively. Mineral Resources are reported exclusive of Mineral Reserves.

Aurizona Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource Update

Aurizona achieved commercial production on July 1, 2019 and produced 75,282 oz of gold in its first six months of operation. Reserve depletion in 2019 was largely offset by mining and processing ore-grade material that was outside of the previous reserve model, and also through successful exploration drilling at Piaba East that identified additional Mineral Reserves. As a result, the Mineral Reserve at December 31, 2019 (Table 1) net of depletion, was reduced by only 1% (~13,000 oz of gold) compared to the 2017 Feasibility Study Mineral Reserve. Mineral Reserve design pits and cut-off grades are unchanged from the 2017 Feasibility Study.

Table 1: Aurizona Mineral Reserve Estimate at December 31, 2019

 

Proven Reserves

Probable Reserves

Proven & Probable Reserves

Ore Type

Tonnes 
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
Gold (koz)

Tonnes 
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
Gold (koz)

Tonnes 
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
(koz)

Laterite

25

1.31

1

434

1.04

14

459

1.05

15

Saprolite

1,482

1.53

72

1,036

1.23

41

2,518

1.41

113

Transition

2,679

1.52

131

944

1.62

49

3,623

1.55

180

Fresh Rock

8,213

1.50

396

4,965

1.59

254

13,178

1.54

650

Total

12,399

1.51

600

7,379

1.51

358

19,778

1.51

958

 

Notes: This Mineral Reserve estimate has an effective date of December 31, 2019 and is based on the Mineral Resource estimate dated December 31, 2019 for Aurizona completed by Equity Exploration. The Mineral Reserve calculation was completed under the supervision of Gordon Zurowski, P.Eng. of AGP Mining Consultants, who is a Qualified Person as defined under NI 43-101. Mineral Reserves are stated within the final design pits based on a $1,350/oz gold price. The cut-off grade used was 0.6 g/t gold for Piaba and Piaba East and 0.41 g/t gold for Boa Esperança. The mining cost averaged $2.32/t mined, processing costs are $9.98/t for laterite/saprolite, $10.28/t for transition and $12.13/t for fresh rock. G&A was $2.84/t ore processed. The ore recoveries were 92.6% for laterite/saprolite, 92.1% for transition and 89.2% for fresh rock.

Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources are exclusive of Reserves and have increased by 22% to 16.0 Mt grading 1.64 g/t gold for 844,000 oz of gold (Table 2). The increase was from exploration success at the Tatajuba deposit resulting in a maiden Indicated Resource for Tatajuba of 2.1 Mt grading 1.62 g/t gold for 112,000 oz of gold (Table 3).

The Tatajuba deposit is located 2.5 km west of the Piaba open-pit on the Aurizona Shear Zone (Figure 1). The deposit currently measures approximately 700 metres ("m") long, 5 to 30 m wide and has a 300 m down-dip extent. The deepest part of the Tatajuba resource pit reaches 200 m below surface. The deepest drill hole to test the deposit was BRAZD664, which intersected 1.14 g/t gold over 120.0 m (from 122 m; true thickness of 21.0 m) and also a deeper, below-pit interval of 2.47 g/t gold over 69.0 m (from 253 m; true thickness of 27.0 m) including 3.81 g/t gold over 33.0 m (from 270.0 m) highlighting that the deposit is open at depth. Drilling confirmed the geophysical, geochemical and structural interpretation that the deposit is offset at each end by dextral faults (right-lateral offsets). Drill hole BRAZD690, a 600 m step out hole to the west, targeted the offset extension of the deposit and intersected 2.51 g/t gold over 6.0 m (from 54.0 m).

The Tatajuba Mineral Resource estimate has an effective date of January 24, 2020 and was constrained with an optimized pit shell using a $1,500/oz gold price. A summary of the Tatajuba Indicated and Inferred Resources by type of mineralization is summarized in Table 3. The Tatajuba open-pit Mineral Resources were not included in the current Mineral Reserve update.

Table 2: Aurizona Mineral Resource Estimate (Exclusive of Reserves)

Deposit

Area

Category

Cut-off Grade

(g/t)

Tonnes

(kt)

Gold Grade

(g/t)

Contained Gold

(koz)

Piaba

Open-Pit

Measured

0.6

2,721

1.25

109

Indicated

0.6

3,339

1.36

146

Inferred

0.6

365

1.65

19

Boa Esperança

Open-Pit

Indicated

0.6

445

1.22

17

Inferred

0.6

114

1.28

5

Tatajuba

Open-Pit

Indicated

0.6

2,144

1.62

112

Inferred

0.6

234

2.98

22

Total Open-Pit

Measured

0.6

2,721

1.25

109

Indicated

0.6

5,928

1.44

275

M&I

0.6

8,649

1.38

384

Inferred

0.6

712

2.02

46

Piaba

Underground

Indicated

1.0

7,317

1.96

460

Inferred

1.0

16,500

1.98

1,052

Total Underground

Measured

1.0

-

-

-

Indicated

1.0

7,317

1.96

460

M&I

1.0

7,317

1.96

460

Inferred

1.0

16,500

1.98

1,052

Total Aurizona Resource

Measured

 

2,721

1.25

109

Indicated

 

13,245

1.73

735

M&I

 

15,966

1.64

844

Inferred

 

17,212

1.98

1,098

 

Notes: Mineral Resources are reported exclusive of Mineral Reserves. Mineral Resources are reported using a gold price of $1,500/oz. Open-pit Mineral Resources are reported using a cut-off grade of 0.6 g/t gold and are constrained using an optimized pit generated using Lerchs-Grossman pit optimisation algorithm using $1,500/oz gold price, costs of $2.32/t mining, up to $12.13/t processing, $2.84/t G&A and gold recovery up to 92.6%. Underground Mineral Resources are reported using a cut-off grade of 1.0 g/t gold and constrained by using a 1.0 g/t gold confining solid. The Mineral Resource statement has been prepared by Trevor Rabb, P.Geo. (Equity) who is a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101. Mineral Resources from the Piaba Open-Pit, Piaba Underground and Boa Esperança have an effective date of December 31, 2019. Mineral Resources from Tatajuba have an effective date of January 24, 2020. Numbers may not total due to rounding. Mineral Resources are not Mineral Reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability. See Cautionary Notes and Technical Disclosure Statement.

Table 3: Mineral Resource Statement for Tatajuba Deposit at January 24, 2020

Classification

Type of
Mineralization

Cut-off
Grade (g/t)

Tonnes
(kt)

Gold Grade
(g/t)

Contained Gold
(koz)

Indicated

Laterite

0.6

135

1.15

5

Saprolite

0.6

526

2.36

40

Transition

0.6

417

1.16

16

Fresh Rock

0.6

1,066

1.50

51

Total Indicated

0.6

2,144

1.62

112

Inferred

Fresh Rock

0.6

234

2.98

22

Total Inferred

0.6

234

2.98

22

Notes: Mineral Resources are reported exclusive of Mineral Reserves. Mineral Resources are reported using a gold price of $1,500/oz gold. Mineral Resources are constrained using an optimized pit generated using a Lerchs-Grossman pit optimisation algorithm. The Mineral Resource statement has been prepared by Trevor Rabb, P.Geo. (Equity) who is a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Any discrepancies in the totals are due to rounding. See Cautionary Notes and Technical Disclosure Statement.

A total of 6,662 m of core (38 holes) was drilled in 2019 in the Tatajuba area bringing the total to 14,072 m (101 holes) in support of the maiden Mineral Resource estimate. Tatajuba represents a potential 4-km extension to the Piaba Trend that hosts the Aurizona Mine (Figure 1). Exploration to date has identified gold mineralization with the same character as that currently being mined at the Piaba gold deposit. The Company has planned a 14,000 m drill program to expand the resource base along the Piaba Trend and within the near-mine concessions with the objective of extending the open-pit mine life.

The Company is also reviewing the potential to extend the mine life and potentially increase annual production by developing the Aurizona underground deposit. As announced on May 7, 2020, the Company has completed a preliminary economic assessment ("PEA") for potential development of an underground mine that may operate concurrently with the open-pit mine using the existing plant and other surface infrastructure, delivering an estimated 740,500 oz of life-of-mine gold production in addition to existing open-pit gold production. Equinox Gold has commenced a 17,000 m drill program aimed primarily at converting underground Inferred Resources to Indicated Resources in support of a pre-feasibility study for the underground mine. The PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred Mineral Resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. There is no certainty that the results contemplated in the PEA will be realized.

Figure 1: Aurizona Shear Zone and Gold Deposit Location Map

Aurizona Shear Zone and Gold Deposit Location Map (CNW Group/Equinox Gold Corp.)

Mesquite Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource Update

A total of 125,736 oz of gold was produced at Mesquite in 2019, of which more than 60% was sourced from the mining and leaching of historical dump material. During 2019 the Company completed 48,045 m of drilling on historical low-grade dumps and leach pads. A total of 13.1 Mt of economic-grade material identified through these drill programs was placed on the leach pad, resulting in 76,900 oz of the total 2019 gold production.

During 2019 the Company also completed a drilling program and reinterpretation of geological domains that was developed to address reconciliation issues with historical information, which led to the application of a more robust and conservative resource and reserve estimation and classification methodology. The new geological model was developed from relogging and interpretation of historical drill data, a new structural model and 20,147 m of infill and step-out drilling. The new model provides significantly improved confidence in the Mineral Reserves and Resources and future gold production plans for Mesquite.

Following 2019 mining depletion and completion of the new geological model, Mesquite Proven and Probable Reserves at December 31, 2019 are estimated at 28.2 Mt grading 0.62 g/t gold for 584,000 oz (Table 4, with Imperial units provided in the Appendix to this news release). When compared to the previous December 2018 Mineral Reserve estimate this represents a 30% reduction net of mining depletion but excludes production during the year from economic-grade material stacked to the pads that was not previously included in the Mineral Reserve estimate. The new model also resulted in a 77% decrease of contained gold in Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources to 432,000 oz in 28.9 Mt grading 0.46 g/t gold (Table 5), and a 277% increase of contained gold in Inferred Mineral Resources to 510,000 oz in 47.7 Mt grading 0.33 g/t gold.

The updated Mineral Reserve estimate includes 2.9 Mt of oxide mineralized dump material grading 0.24 g/t gold for 22,000 oz of contained gold that is classified as Probable Reserves. The Company has identified an additional 40 million short tons of potentially mineralized material from previous operations that has not been drill tested. A 24,500 m ($5.2 million budget) exploration program is underway to expand drilling coverage of the Big Chief, Midway and Brownie dumps and also to explore several near-pit and in-pit in-situ targets to identify additional ore-grade mineralized material that can be stacked on the leach pad.

The Company will continue to review and test opportunities to extend the Mesquite mine life, including:

  • Drilling and resource estimation of mineralized dumps and leach pads from historical operations;
  • Conversion of resources to reserves within current pits and adjacent areas; and
  • Drilling of in-pit, near-mine and regional exploration opportunities.

 

Table 4: Mesquite Mineral Reserve Estimate at December 31, 2019

Ore Type

Proven Reserves

Probable Reserves

Proven & Probable Reserves

Tonnes
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
Gold 
(koz)

Tonnes
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
Gold
(koz)

Tonnes
(kt)

Gold
Grade
(g/t)

Contained
Gold
(koz)

Oxide

5

0.94

-

13,755

0.42

185

13,760

0.37

185

Transition

40

0.95

1

2,274

0.81

59

2,314

0.81

60

Non-oxide

183

1.27

8

11,943

0.86

331

12,126

0.87

339

Total

228

1.21

9

27,972

0.64

575

28,200

0.62

584

Notes: This Mineral Reserve estimate has an effective date of December 31, 2019 and is based on the Mineral Resource estimate dated December 31, 2019 prepared by Lions Gate Geological Consulting Inc. The Mineral Reserve calculation was completed under the supervision of Gordon Zurowski, P.Eng. of AGP Mining Consultants Inc., who is a Qualified Person as defined under NI 43-101. Mineral Reserves are stated within the final design pit based on a $1,350/oz gold price. The cut-off grade varied by material type from 0.125 g/t for oxide and oxide-transition and 0.281 g/t for non-oxide transition and non-oxide materials. The mining cost averaged $1.60/t mined, processing costs are $2.26/t ore and G&A was $0.77/t ore placed. The ore recoveries were 75% for oxide and oxide-transition, and 35% for non-oxide transition and non-oxide material. Oxide ore contains the reserves identified in dump material.

Table 5: Mesquite Mineral Resource Estimate (Exclusive of Reserves) at December 31, 2019

Type

Measured

Indicated

Measured & Indicated

Inferred

Tonnes
(kt)

Grade
(g/t)

Gold
(koz)

Tonnes
(kt)

Grade
(g/t)

Gold
(koz)

Tonnes
(kt)

Grade
(g/t)

Gold
(koz)

Tonnes
(kt)

Grade
(g/t)

Gold
(koz)

Oxide

-

-

-

8,501

0.40

110

8,501

0.40

110

10,753

0.40

139

Non-oxide

20

0.73

0

15,148

0.60

291

15,168

0.60

292

10,495

0.52

176

Dumps

-

-

-

5,255

0.18

30

5,255

0.18

30

26,425

0.23

195

Total

20

0.73

0

28,904

0.46

432

28,924

0.46

432

47,672

0.33

510

Notes: Mineral Resources are reported exclusive of Mineral Reserves. Mineral Resources were restricted between the December 31, 2019 Reserve pit designs and the ultimate resource limiting pit shell based on a gold price of $1,500/oz, mining cost of $1.60/t mined and a processing cost of $2.26/t ore and G&A of $0.77/t ore. Oxide and oxide transition have an assumed recovery of 75% and cut-off grade of 0.09 g/t. Non-oxide and non-oxide transition have an assumed recovery of 35% and cut-off grade of 0.18 g/t. Waste dump material has an assumed recovery of 75% and cut-off grade of 0.14 g/tonne. Ali Shahkar P.Eng. of Lions Gate Geological Consulting Inc. is the Qualified Person under NI 43-101 responsible for the in-situ mineral resource estimation. Robert Sim, P.Geo. of SIM Geological Inc. is the Qualified Person under NI 43-101 responsible for the waste dump mineral resource estimation. Numbers may not total due to rounding. Mineral Resources are not Mineral Reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability. See Cautionary Notes and Technical Disclosure Statement.

Qualified Persons

Gordon Zurowski, P. Eng. (AGP Mining Consultants Inc.), Neil Lincoln, P. Eng. (AGP Mining Consultants Inc.), Eleanor Black, P. Geo. (Equity Exploration Consultants Ltd.), and Trevor Rabb, P. Geo. (Equity Exploration Consultants Ltd.) are the Qualified Persons as defined under National Instrument 43-101 that prepared the report entitled "Technical Report on the Aurizona Gold Mine, Brazil" with an effective date of January 24, 2020 that forms the basis of the disclosure related to the Aurizona Mine that is described in this news release.

Bruce Davis, FAusIMM (BD Resource Consulting, Inc.), Nathan Robison, PE (Robison Engineering Company Inc.), Ali Shahkar P.Eng. (Lions Gate Geological Consulting Inc.), Robert Sim, P.Geo. (SIM Geological Inc.), Jefferey Woods, SME MMAS (Woods Process Services, LLC) and Gordon Zurowski, P.Eng (AGP Mining Consultants Inc.) are the Qualified Persons as defined under National Instrument 43-101 that prepared the report entitled "Technical Report on the Mesquite Gold Mine, California, U.S.A." with an effective date of December 31, 2019 that forms the basis of the disclosure related to the Mesquite Mine that is described in this news release.

All of the Qualified Persons are independent of the Company and reviewed and approved of the contents of this news release. The Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource estimates were prepared in accordance with standards as defined by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum ("CIM") in "CIM Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves" adopted by CIM Council on May 10, 2014.

Scott Heffernan, MSc, P.Geo., Equinox Gold's EVP Exploration, is responsible for the drilling programs at Aurizona and Mesquite, is a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101 for Equinox Gold and has reviewed, approved and verified the technical content of this news release. Adriaan (Attie) Roux, Pr.Sci.Nat., Equinox Gold's COO and Doug Reddy, Equinox Gold's EVP Technical Services, are Qualified Persons under National Instrument 43-101 for Equinox Gold and have also reviewed and verified the technical content of this news release.