Equinox Gold says that its board of directors has approved the start of Phase 1 construction at the Castle Mountain Gold Mine.
Castle Mountain is an open-pit heap leach mine in San Bernardino County expected to produce on average 45,000 ounces of gold annually for the first three years of operations. Meanwhile, the company is working on the studies and permit amendments required for the Phase 2 expansion, which is expected to average 200,000 oz of gold annually for an additional 13 years for total life of mine production of 2.8 million oz of gold.
Early works construction has been underway at Castle Mountain since the third quarter of 2019. Activities to date have focused on detailed engineering, procurement, installation of piping and other infrastructure, and heap leach earthworks. The company expects to begin installation of leach pad liners in November, with first gold pour targeted for the third quarter of 2020.
Equinox Gold’s board has approved a construction budget of $58 million for Phase 1, which will consist of a run-of-mine heap leach operation processing primarily 12,700 tonnes per day of stockpiled ore from previous operations.
Phase 2 will increase production to 200,000 oz. per year and throughput to 41,000 t/d of ore, of which 2,300 t/d of higher-grade ore will be processed through a milling circuit. The Phase 2 feasibility study is underway with completion targeted for the second half of 2020, at which point Equinox Gold will submit the application to amend its existing plan of operations and permits to support the Phase 2 expansion.