Americas Gold and Silver Corporation (TSX: USA) (NYSE: USAS) is confident that commercial production can be achieved at its Relief Canyon gold mine around mid-2020 despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Relief Canyon, located in Nevada, poured first gold in mid-February 2020 and while the mine has been operating through the COVID-19 pandemic, ramp-up has been slower than anticipated due to an inability to get key management and consultants to site to troubleshoot common start up challenges.
The company reports that all operating aspects of Relief Canyon have now started to meet budget parameters. Waste movement is ahead of budget and there is an ore stockpile of over 0.2 million tonnes. As of April 30, 2020, approximately 3.3 million tonnes of material have been mined, including 2.5 million tonnes of waste and 0.8 million tonnes of ore.
However, ore leaching has been slower than planned, a common issue when commissioning heap leach operations. Pregnant solution grade and solution application rate are now nearing design levels following improvements to agglomeration, solution application and stacking practices.
Meanwhile, the company’s Galena Recapitalisation Plan in Idaho is proceeding better than expectations with the company seeing benefits in both production and exploration.
The Galena Recapitalisation Plan improves productivity in the short term with the purchase and refurbishment of underground mining equipment.
Underground development improvements, additional equipment procurements, and an exploration drilling programme will benefit the operation longer term by further improving mining efficiency and lowering cash costs.
Exploration is aimed at adding mineral resources with exploration success already realized in Q1-2020.
“All aspects of the Relief Canyon mine are starting to perform near design capacity following some initial teething pains common to commissioning a new operation,” said Americas President and CEO Darren Blasutti.
“These start-up challenges took slightly longer to remediate due to travel and operational restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, Relief Canyon is now well on its way to a successful ramp-up. Americas Gold and Silver is closely monitoring developments regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 and our priority is to protect the health and safety of our employees by providing a safe work environment,” Mr Blasutti said.