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Equinox targets May first gold at Greenstone

Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX; NYSE-AM: EQX) says it’s on track to produce first gold at the C$1.2 billion Greenstone project in northern Ontario next month after starting ore processing this week.

The project, located 275 km northeast of Thunder Bay near the town of Geraldton, is a 60/40 partnership with New York-based Orion Mine Finance. It aims to produce 400,000 oz. of gold per year and more than 5 million oz. over a 14-year mine life.

“Once operating at full capacity, Greenstone will be our largest and lowest cost-mine,” president and CEO Greg Smith said in a release on Tuesday. “We look forward to first gold in May and continuing to advance the project to commercial production.”

Greenstone will be the company’s eighth mine after Aurizona, Fazenda, Santa Luz and RDM in Brazil, Castle Mountain and Mesquite in California and Los Filos in Mexico. Equinox expects total output this year of between 660,000 to 750,000 oz. of gold with all-in sustaining costs of $1,630 to $1,740 per oz., it said in February.

Equinox has stockpiled more than 1.5 million tonnes of ore at Greenstone and pre-crushed 70,000 tonnes of low-grade ore for early commissioning feed, it said. Progressively higher-grade ore is to be fed into the mill as production ramps up towards a planned throughput of 27,000 tonnes per day. Commercial production is targeted for this year’s third quarter.

Second ball mill

Greenstone’s equipment is working as expected and a second ball mill will be brought online in the coming weeks as throughput is increased, Equinox said. Hiring is on track with more than 400 positions filled including all senior plant operators.

Equinox produced 564,458 oz. of gold last year with all-in sustaining costs of $1,612 per oz. for $304.4 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. It recorded cash flow from operations before changes in non-cash working capital of $527.5 million, which included $225 million from gold prepay arrangements. The company had $733 million in debt at Dec. 31.

Shares in Equinox Gold rose less then 1% to C$8.45 apiece on Tuesday morning in Toronto, valuing the company at about C$2.8 billion. They’ve traded in a 52-week range of C$5.36 to C$8.79.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More