Wit commercial gold production being reached earlier this year at Relief Canyon Mine northeast of Lovelock, full-scale production is expected later this year, according to Americas Gold & Silver.
But, problems have delayed progress, including a recent coronavirus outbreak that impacted “key” mine personnel, according to the company.
“Relief Canyon declared commercial production on January 11, 2021, and is expected to ramp-up to full production by the end of Q2-2021,” the company said in a March 22 press release. “The ramp-up has been challenging, most recently by the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak at site in December, 2020-January, 2021, and severe weather in February, 2021.”
According to the company's Jan. 11 update, the pandemic also delayed arrival of key personnel, and the radial stacker breakdown reduced the rate of ore placement on the heap leach pad where minute particles of gold are extracted from tons of ore.
After repairs were completed, the radial stacker increased ore stacking rates on the new heap leach pad. This was the final hurdle before commercial gold production was achieved. Efficiency has improved in other parts of the heap leach process as well, the company said March 22.
“The Company and its consultants performed extensive analysis and implemented a number of procedural changes to address the startup challenges typical of a heap leach operation including improved ore control, increased training, standardization of operating practices and reagent optimization," according to the press release. "The operation was further impacted by a number of key staff contracting the COVID-19 virus in December 2020-January 2021 which was followed by severe weather challenges in February 2021.”
This year’s “slow start,” according to Americas Gold & Silver, will impact first quarter earnings, but the company’s revenues could improve if Relief Canyon Mine reaches full production in the second quarter.
The company’s overall revenue for 2020 was $27.9 million, but there was a net loss of $30.1 million including a $9.0 million net loss in the fourth quarter. That equated to a $.24 drop per share for investors.
“Last year was expected to be transformational for the Company but was met by a series of unexpected challenges. I would personally like to thank our stakeholders for their patience and support as we continue to meet these challenges and demonstrate to the market the tremendous value of our assets,” Americas Gold & Silver President and CEO Darren Blasutti stated. “I am confident the success at the Galena Complex (north Idaho) will continue as indicated by the most recent drill results, the illegal blockade at our Cosala Operations will be resolved, and Relief Canyon will reach full production following a difficult ramp-up.”