Avion Gold has started underground production at its newly developed underground mine on the Tabakoto gold deposit in Mali, West Africa.

The Tabakoto underground mine is scheduled to produce about 470,000 mt of ore in 2012, at an average grade of 4.34 g/mt, with approximately 60,000 oz of gold recovered by the process plant. This represents 41% of Tabakoto’s estimated gold production for 2012. The other 59% will come from open-pit mining.

Commenting on the start of production at the Tabakoto underground mine, Avion’s COO Andrew Bradfield said, “The commencement of production ore mining from the Tabakoto underground mine is a milestone for Avion. It is an important step in the company’s goal of achieving 4,000 mt/d of process plant capacity in 2012. This increase in capacity is anticipated to achieve a run-rate of 200,000 oz/y of gold by the fourth quarter of 2012.”

Avion also announced it started to mine ore from the Djambaye II open-pit. Approximately 574,000 mt of ore at an average grade of 3.92 g/mt gold, for approximately 66,000 oz of gold, are scheduled to be mined from the pit in 2012. Ore from the Dioulafoundou and Segala NW open-pits will provide the remainder of the 2012 mill feed for the company’s 2012 production guidance of 140,000 to 150,000 oz of gold.