GREENSTONE – BUSINESS – Equinox Gold Corp. (TSX: EQX, NYSE American: EQX) (“Equinox Gold” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce groundbreaking for full-scale construction at the Greenstone Gold Mine (“Greenstone Mine” or the “Project”) located in Ontario, Canada.
Developed as a 60/40 partnership, respectively, by Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance Group (“Orion”, collectively, “the Partners”), Greenstone Mine will be one of the largest gold mines in Canada, producing more than 400,000 ounces of gold annually for the first five years and more than five million ounces of gold over its initial 14-year mine life.
Greenstone Mine Groundbreaking Ceremony
The Partners and the Greenstone Mine team hosting a groundbreaking ceremony today from 2pm to 4pm EDT at the Greenstone Mine site.
The ceremony included a blessing by Knowledge Keeper Andrea O’Nabigon of Long Lake #58 First Nation followed by remarks from Chief Theresa Nelson of Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Chief Dorothy Towedo of Aroland First Nation, Chief Sherry Taylor of Ginoogaming First Nation, Chief Judy Desmoulin of Long Lake #58 First Nation and William Gordon of the Métis Nation of Ontario, as well as remarks from the Honourable Minister Rickford, Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and Mayor Renald Beaulieu from the Municipality of Greenstone.
Christian Milau, CEO of Equinox Gold, stated: “Equinox Gold continues to focus on its strategy of sector-leading growth, launching Greenstone Mine development as construction at our Santa Luz mine in Brazil is nearing completion. Greenstone Mine is located in one of the world’s best mining jurisdictions and will be a top-tier mine, producing more than 400,000 ounces of gold per year at all-in-sustaining costs in the lowest quartile of the industry. Greenstone Mine will be a cornerstone asset for Equinox Gold and a transformative project for Northern Ontario. We thank our Indigenous partners, the Municipality of Greenstone, Premier Ford, Minister Rickford and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Project and look forward to working with them, Orion and other stakeholders in the region to build a gold mine that can be considered an industry example for responsible mineral development.”
The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, stated: “Equinox Gold and the Greenstone Mine team have shown terrific leadership in working with Indigenous communities and with our government to get to this point—starting construction for a major project that will create jobs and bring prosperity to the region, and to every corner of our province. This world-class gold mine is an example of what we can accomplish when we come together and work towards a common goal. I know Minister Rickford will continue to work with the Greenstone Mine team in the months ahead to ensure a smooth start.”
The Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, stated: “Greenstone Mine will be an economic driver for Northwestern Ontario and the latest in a series of recent success stories in Ontario’s mining sector—successes that our government is proud to support. This project will bring good paying jobs and prosperity to northern and Indigenous communities in the region.”
Greenstone Mine Highlights (100% Basis)
- 5.05 million ounces life-of-mine gold production
- More than 400,000 ounces average annual gold production for the first five years
- More than 360,000 ounces average annual gold production over the initial 14-year mine life
- 5.54 million ounces of Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves grading 1.27 grams per tonne gold
- $1.23 billion initial capital (C$1.53 billion at spot rate of USD:CAD 1.25), including $125 million for the mining fleet of which approximately $100 million could be leased to reduce the upfront cash spend
- 14-year initial mine life with expansion potential from underground and near-mine deposits
- 800 local and 1,300 regional jobs during construction, 500 jobs during operations, plus numerous opportunities for indirect and support businesses in the region
- First gold pour targeted for H1 2024
The initial construction capital budget for the Project, on a 100% basis, is approximately $1.23 billion (C$1.53 billion), which includes more than $50 million spent to date and a $177 million contingency (approximately 14% of total initial capital). The initial cash spend could be reduced by approximately $100 million through lease financing for mobile equipment and offset by up to $70 million of pre-commercial production revenues (at a gold price of $1,750 per ounce). The initial capital estimate has been updated from the 2020 feasibility study estimate to reflect firm supplier quotes following detailed engineering, a review and update of capital costs using the approximate current USD:CAD exchange rate of 1.25, and an increased contingency including a provision for future inflation and potential COVID-19 impacts. Approximately 80% of the initial capital is Canadian-dollar based.
Early works have been underway since March 2021, with more than $50 million of the total budget spent to date (on a 100% basis). The Project timeline contemplates approximately two years of construction and six months of commissioning, with mining expected to commence in Q4 2022 and first gold pour targeted for H1 2024.
Approximately 10% of construction capital is expected to be spent in 2021, 40% in 2022, 35% in 2023 and the remainder in 2024. Equinox Golds 60% attributable portion will be funded from the Companys existing treasury ($330 million at June 30, 2021), cash flow from producing mines and a $400 million revolving credit facility, from which the Company has $200 million available to draw. Equinox Gold also has a portfolio of liquid investments with a current value of more than $400 million and will consider opportunistically hedging a portion of the budgeted Canadian dollar spend.
The project is fully permitted to start major construction activities and has Long-term Relationship Agreements in place with five Indigenous groups: Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, Aroland First Nation, Ginoogaming First Nation, Long Lake #58 First Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario.
Greenstone Mine Overview and Initial Capital
Greenstone Mine is located in Ontario, Canada approximately 275 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay and 4 kilometres south of Geraldton in the Municipality of Greenstone. With 5.54 million ounces of Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves, Greenstone Mine is one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in Canada, with the potential for resource growth and mine life extension from additional underground and near-mine deposits.
The initial capital estimate has been updated from the 2020 feasibility study to reflect firm supplier quotes following detailed engineering, a review and update of capital costs, and a provision for future inflation and potential COVID-19 impacts.
|Greenstone Mine Updated Capital Costs|
|Cost Category||Initial Capital
|Power and electrical||62|
|Water and tailings management||80|
|General services and owner’s cost||51|
|Pre-production, start-up and commissioning||121|
|Contingency (including cost escalation and a COVID impact allowance)||177|
|Total Initial Capital Cost||$1,225|
Note: Numbers may not sum due to rounding.
The Greenstone Mine plan contemplates construction of a 27,000 tonnes-per-day processing facility and open-pit mining operation for the Hardrock deposit. The process plant consists of a crushing circuit, grinding circuit, pre-leach thickening and leaching, carbon-in-pulp circuit, carbon elution and regeneration, electrowinning and gold refining, and tailings disposal, with overall gold recovery of 91.2%.
Mining will use conventional open-pit blast, load and haul techniques. While the initial capital budget includes $125 million for Mobile Equipment, the Partners anticipate obtaining lease financing for most of the fleet, which will decrease the initial cash spend.
Greenstone Mine is located in a district with active mines and has good access to transportation and mining-related infrastructure, including Highway 11, the TC Energy Canadian Mainline (“TCECM”) natural gas pipeline and the Geraldton municipal airport, which has a runway capable of accommodating large aircraft. The project scope includes $51 million of Infrastructure Repositioning for relocation of existing infrastructure including a Hydro One electrical substation and distribution lines, an Ontario Provincial Police station and a portion of Highway 11.
The $62 million for Power and Electrical includes construction of a power plant with a designed capacity of 46.5 MW that will connect by pipeline to the TCECM. Additional new Infrastructure of $70 million includes site access and haul roads, workforce living and kitchen facilities, potable water and sewage systems, a workshop and maintenance facility, warehousing and administration buildings, explosives and reagent storage, fuel storage and distribution, a recycling and sorting facility, fire water systems and site security.
The $80 million for Water and Tailings Management includes construction of a downstream-design 145 million-tonnes-capacity tailings management facility. Water and Tailings Management also includes a series of runoff and seepage collection ponds that will direct all mine water, surface runoff and underground workings water to the centralized mine water collection pond and effluent water treatment plant, as well as construction of the potable water, sewage systems and fire systems required to safely operate the mine site.
The $121 million of Pre-production, Start-up and Commissioning includes mining and process plant pre-production and commissioning, spares and first fills. Construction Indirects of $217 million accounts for engineering, procurement and construction management, construction services, contractor mobilization and demobilization, temporary camp and site facilities, and freight and logistics. General and administration costs comprise the majority of $51 million for General Services and Owner’s Cost.
The $177 million Contingency (approximately 14% of total initial capital) was established through a facilitated quantitative risk assessment process contemplating foreign exchange fluctuations, inflation for labour, materials and equipment, and uncertainty related to COVID-19 protocols and impacts.
Greenstone Mine Construction Milestones
Construction progress is summarized in a photo gallery on Equinox Gold’s website at www.equinoxgold.com. Construction milestones to date include:
- Temporary effluent water treatment plant and feed pond complete
- Phase 1 of the temporary lodging facility complete
- Security and medical services on site
- First phase of road building and tree clearing complete
- Detailed engineering for process plant and auxiliary infrastructure is approximately 85% complete
- 30% ($230 million) of major contracts awarded
- More than 40% of contract value to date awarded to Indigenous businesses or partnerships
Equinox Gold, Orion and the Greenstone Mine team are committed to constructing and operating the Greenstone Mine safely, ethically and responsibly and will continue to work in a spirit of partnership with Indigenous communities, the Municipality of Greenstone, and local and regional communities to realize opportunities in business ventures, training and education, employment and community development.
A formal construction decision by the Partners is subject to receiving consent of Equinox Golds lenders and the closing of financing by Orion, both of which are expected within the next several weeks.
About Equinox Gold
Equinox Gold is a growth-focused mining company operating entirely in the Americas, with seven operating gold mines and a clear path to achieve one million ounces of annual gold production from a pipeline of development and expansion projects. Equinox Gold’s common shares are listed on the TSX and the NYSE American under the trading symbol EQX. Further information about Equinox Gold’s portfolio of assets and long-term growth strategy is available at www.equinoxgold.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orion is one of the world’s leading mining-focused investment businesses with $8.3 billion under management. Orion specializes in providing flexible financing solutions to mining companies across the precious, base, and bulk metals sectors and has demonstrated capability in equity, debt, royalty, streaming, and convertible investments. The Orion team has experience in physical metals markets, including facilitating the purchase, financing, transportation, processing and selling of mines’ output to end customers. Orion’s select investments in Canadian gold mining projects include Pretium Resources, Victoria Gold, Premier Gold, Claude Resources, and Nomad Royalty Company.