The Las Chispas processing plant (above) is completed ahead of the feasibility study schedule. (Photo: SilverCrest)

Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc. has completed construction and handed over the Las Chispas processing plant to SilverCrest Metals Inc., ahead of the feasibility study schedule. Other construction activities handled directly by SilverCrest (road, bridge, dry stack tailings facility, temporary diesel power plant and assay lab) have also been completed.

“We are extremely proud to achieve this key milestone, ahead of schedule and under budget,” CEO N. Eric Fier said. “I commend all who have been involved in the project to date and thank our stakeholders, including local communities, for their continued support. Completing construction marks a significant derisking step as we move toward becoming a high-grade precious metal producer.”

Processing plant commissioning is now under way with the plant expected to reach commercial production in the fourth quarter of 2022. Given the extensive amount of underground development completed to date, there is a significant amount of stockpiled ore on surface to allow for a more measured ramp-up of underground mining over the first few years of production and increased operational flexibility. The feasibility study outlined a plan in which the process plant will not be fed exclusively from underground mined material until 2025.

Operations are currently being powered by both the diesel generators and the partially completed power line, which collectively is providing all of the Las Chispas power requirements.  SilverCrest anticipates fully transitioning away from the diesel generators in the second half of 2022 as CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s power authority) finalizes its portion of the power line.

While the final capital costs incurred remain to be settled, the capital cost of the Las Chispas project is anticipated to be below the US$137.7 million budget estimated in the feasibility study.

COO Pierre Beaudoin said the company has also opened a new assay lab in the nearby community of Arizpe (Sonora, Mexico), which has created a significant number of new local jobs that may be sustained beyond the mine life of Las Chispas.