Premier Gold Mines has recently restarted processing at its Mercedes mine in Mexico that is aligned with a new mining plan that includes limited mining and development activities at Lupita, including the Lupita Extension, and Diluvio zones. The mine was put into care and maintenance during late March due to government restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Production has been consolidated to one mine portal from five. The mining rate was reduced to 1,200 metric tons per day (mt/d) from 2,000 mt/d. The processing plant began operating in early July on a “campaign basis,” in alignment with the new mine plan and crew rotations. This realignment will optimize Mercedes’ production to its current reserve base rather than its processing capacity, the company said.

This restructuring has resulted in a 40% reduction of employees required to operate the mine and 75% of mining-related contractors. The plan focuses on enhancing underground operating efficiencies and supervision to minimize dilution and improve ore quality, the company said. It added that the success of future exploration and delineation drill programs will allow the production rate to increase toward nameplate capacity over time.

“A new vision for success was required to ensure the mine’s long-term viability,” Premier COO Peter van Alphen said. “Our team has developed a focused and achievable plan that will lead to future growth of production at Mercedes.

“We do not take lightly our decision to reduce the number of employees at the mine and must acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and support of our Mercedes employees and nearby communities impacted.”

The company said a phased restart of the mine will ensure the safe and successful implementation of the plan and meet sanitation requirements necessitated by the company’s COVID-19 protocols. The initial focus prioritizes the completion of key access ramps to the Diluvio West and Lupita Extension stoping areas. It also places an emphasis on delineation/definition drilling at Marianas and Diluvio West, and San Martin delineation drilling.