Yamana Gold announced in mid-February that it will proceed with construction of its high-grade, low-cost Cerro Moro gold-silver project in Santa Cruz province, southern Argentina. Planning calls for average annual production of 135,000 oz of gold and 6.7 million oz of silver during the first three years of full production. Production over the currently planned mine life of about eight years will average 102,000 oz/y of gold and 5 million oz/y of silver.

These life-of-mine production estimates consider only current mineral reserves. Yamana anticipates that the project will benefit from additions to reserves through exploration and new discoveries.

Plant throughput is planned at 1,000 mt/d, with head grades averaging 10.8 g/mt gold and 536 g/mt silver.

Yamana released a feasibility study of the Cerro Moro project in April 2014 that called for two stages of development. However, the company has now decided to pursue a single-stage development scenario.

Cash costs of production are estimated at $380 to $400/oz for gold and $5.35 to $5.50/oz for silver, and all in sustaining costs are estimated at $547 to $557/oz for gold and $7.60 to $7.80/oz for silver. Total life-of-mine project capital is estimated at $398 million, including $265 million in initial capital and $133 million for life-of-mine sustaining capital.

Cerro Moro project capital spending in 2015 is expected to total about $30 million, with more than half of the spending to occur late in the year when formal construction groundbreaking is scheduled to take place. The remaining capital will be spent in 2016 and 2017. Production is expected to begin in the second half of 2017.

Cerro Moro mine production will be from a series of small open pits and from underground mines on veins.