Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX; NYSE: EQX) has released new reserve and resource numbers for its Mesquite mine in California and for the Fazenda Brasileiro and Riacho Dos Machados mines in Brazil.
The Mesquite heap leach gold mine’s latest measured and indicated numbers show a 65% increase in contained gold, to almost 1.4 million oz. (22.3 million tonnes grading 0.24 g/t gold) The contained metal in the inferred resource is up 30% to 912,000 oz. (84 million tonnes grading 0.34 g/t gold).
Proven and probable reserves at Mesquite are exclusive of resources. Reserves total 30.3 million tonnes grading 0.48 g/t gold for 471,000 oz. of contained gold.
Equinox based its Mesquite estimates on 20,230 metres of drilling done during the last half of 2020, and the numbers do not include any results for the 2021 program.
Drilling at Fazenda successfully replaced underground and pit reserves on an annualized basis, with the results of 155,008 metres drilled from May 2018 to Dec. 31, 2020. After mining 196,000 oz. during that period, Equinox says the reserves are virtually unchanged. Proven and probable reserves now stand at 6.6 million tonnes with an average grade of 1.47 g/t gold for 315,000 oz. of contained gold.
The measured and indicated resources (exclusive of reserves) total 5.2 million tonnes with an average grade of 1.77 g/t gold for 294,000 oz. of contained gold. The inferred resource is 3.3 million tonnes with an average grade of 1.5 g/t gold for 158,000 oz. of contained gold.
110,000-metre drill program
This year, Equinox began a 74,000-metre drill program at Fazenda to replace reserves and test greenfield targets in the 70-km-long Fazenda-Santa Luz mining district. Combined with near-mine and regional exploration around the Santa Luz mine (due to pour its first gold early next year) to the north, the company plans to complete more than 110,000 metres of drilling this year to further define the district.
The Riacho Dos Machados (RDM) open-pit gold mine numbers include 42,654 metres of grade control drilling done from May 2018 to Dec. 31, 2020, as well as a reinterpretation of the block model. Proven and probable reserves are 17.6 million tonnes grading 0.99 g/t gold for 556,000 oz. of contained gold. The numbers represent a 30% drop in metal content after 173,000 oz. of gold was mined during the period.
The measured and indicated resources (exclusive of reserves) at RDM are 3.2 million tonnes grading 1.27 g/t gold for 132,000 oz. of contained gold. The inferred portion is 3.6 million tonnes grading 1.95 g/t gold for 226,000 oz. of contained gold.
Equinox acquired the RDM gold mine in 2020 with the takeover of Leagold Mining. The company has focused on operational improvements including connection to the power grid and plant optimizations that have boosted throughput and recoveries. Next year’s exploration program will be aimed at increasing resources.
With seven producing mines and four growth projects in the Americas, Equinox has set a goal of producing 1 million oz. of gold annually. The 2021 production guidance is for about 600,000 oz. at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,300 per ounce.
(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)