Operations at Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador have restarted. The company said it anticipates resuming regular shipping of concentrate to the port within the next few days. The mill is currently processing stockpiled ore and the mine at a rate of approximately 2,800 metric tons per day (mt/d) and is expected to ramp up to 3,500 mt/d over the next two months. The mine has resumed producing ore, and production is planned to ramp up over the next three months. The company’s activities include strict coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols intended to minimize risks to the health and safety of all personnel, contractors and local communities.
“I want to thank all of our staff for their efforts and dedication during these challenging times, especially the team who has been at site since operations were suspended in March,” President and CEO Ron Hochstein said. “Their work and dedication, which included the planning and implementation of new COVID-19 protocols and changes in procedures at site, were critical to ensuring a safe restart of operations.”
Work on the completion of the South Ventilation Raise (SVR) is also well advanced, the company said. The SVR has been filled with concrete due to localized ground fall. Once the concrete cures, the company will grout the raise prior to the start of raise boring. Work on the SVR is anticipated to be completed in the fourth quarter. The timing of this work does not impact planned production in 2020.
Gold production at Fruta del Norte for the second half of 2020 is estimated to be in the range of 150,000 ounces (oz) to 170,000 oz of gold. Together with actual production achieved prior to the onset of the temporary suspension, total 2020 gold production is estimated to be between 200,000 oz and 220,000 oz. Average mill production in the second half of 2020 is projected at 3,200 mt/d at an estimated average head grade of 10 g/mt. Average gold recovery is anticipated to be approximately 85% during this time and is expected to reach design levels of 92% in late Q4 2020.
All-in-Sustaining-Costs (AISC) for the second half of 2020 is expected to range between $770/oz and $850/oz of gold sold. AISC for the second half of 2020 reflects additional COVID-19 costs and the ramping up of production originally anticipated to have occurred once commercial production was achieved in February. AISC includes $10.4 million in sustaining capital that includes costs for the tailings dam raise, the purchase of surface mobile equipment and other efficiency improvement projects.