TSX-listed Aura Minerals has decided to build its fifth mine – the Almas gold project in Tocantins state, Brazil – based on the positive results of a recently completed feasibility study.
Construction will begin in April, followed by first production and a ramp-up phase in next year’s third quarter, and commercial production in the final quarter of 2022.
The 1.3 million t/y open pit mine, which will see mining from three deposits as well as production from a historic heap-leach rejects pile, has an after-tax capital cost of US$72.8 million.
As outlined by the feasibility study, the mine life is 17 years, with production averaging 51,000 oz. per year between 2023 and 2026; 43,000 oz. between 2027 and 2030; and 20,000 oz. annually between 2032 and 2039.
At a gold price of US$1,558 per oz., an exchange rate (Brazilian real to USD) of R$5.16, and a 5% discount rate, the project’s after-tax net present value is US$183 million, and its internal rate of return is 44%.
The company acquired the project in 2018 through its merger with Rio Novo Gold.
With Aura deciding to target higher grades in the first years of production, the project is smaller scale than originally envisioned by Rio Novo (1.3 million t/y compared with 2 million t/y).
Almas contains proven and probable reserves of 608,373 oz. in 20.6 million tonnes grading 0.92 g/t gold, plus 36,000 oz. of gold (1.3 million tonnes grading 0.9 g/t gold) in heap-leach stockpiles.
Aura also operates the San Andres gold mine in Honduras, the Ernesto/Pau-a -Pique gold mine in Brazil and the Aranzazu copper-gold-silver mine in Mexico. In addition, it declared commercial production at its Gold Road mine in Arizona in December.
After producing a total of 204,000 gold-equivalent oz. across its operations last year, the company expects production to grow to 250,000-290,000 oz. in 2021 at cash costs averaging between US$728 to US$867 per gold-equivalent oz.