Relief Canyon Mine upgrades continue; company expects gold production soon
Nevada News Group
PERSHING COUNTY, Nev. — In its third quarter report, Americas Gold and Silver Corporation says it will produce gold this year, but time is running out.
Leach pad and other construction must be complete before gold ore is blasted, mined, crushed, leached, processed and refined at the Relief Canyon Mine.
As usual, Americas President & CEO Darren Blasutti was optimistic about gold production.
“As we approach the end of 2019, the Company remains on track to deliver first gold pour before year end at Relief Canyon, on time and on budget,” Blasutti announced in the report.
America Silver acquired Pershing Gold and took over the Relief Canyon Mine, located east of Lovelock, in 2018. Pershing Gold acquired the mine in 2011 but it has remained dormant and no gold has been produced at Relief Canyon for almost 30 years.
Between 1986 and 1990, the Pegasus Gold Corporation reportedly produced more than 100,000 ounces of Relief Canyon gold according to Mining.com.
Firstgold Corporation bought the mine from Pegasus in 1995 but lost control after the company’s Chinese investors were considered a security risk by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The mine’s demise was due to its proximity to the Fallon Naval Air Station.
Americas Silver also needed permission from the CFIUS to operate the Relief Canyon Mine. All mining contractors and mine visitors need security clearances from the Department of Defense.
After the acquisition of Relief Canyon, Americas Silver changed its name to Americas Gold & Silver. The Canadian company pulled together the funds needed for Relief Canyon upgrades.
“The capital cost to develop Relief Canyon to initial gold pour was estimated to be approximately $28 to $30 million with an additional $8 million in working capital required to achieve sustainable cash flow,” the company states in the November 13 update.
More land has been cleared for another leach pad and the new gold ore conveyance system including overland and “grasshopper” conveyors that carry crushed ore to the leach pad.
“Construction is proceeding well with preparation of the leach pad complete with approximately 3,200,000 square feet of liner installed. Overliner crushing is complete and placement of the material is advancing well. The primary crusher and crushed ore reclaim tunnel are installed.”
Instead of trucking the ore down hill, a conveyor belt was deemed more cost effective. The conveyance system is near completion with vulcanizing of the conveyor belt scheduled for the next two weeks.
The first placement of crushed ore on the new leach pad should happen before the end of this month with “solution application” to start soon after that, the company says.
Tiny, almost invisible specks of gold will be leached out of the ore into the cyanide solution for processing in a plant upgraded and equipped to meet the state’s environmental standards.
“The ADR plant is receiving its final upgrades including the installation of new mercury abatement equipment and a revamped electrowinning area,” says the company. “The Company continues to expect to achieve first gold pour from Relief Canyon in late Q4-2019.”
In the past, Pershing Gold officials said about a ton of the ore could produce less than half an ounce of gold. Late Friday afternoon, the price of gold was hovering around $1,468 per ounce.
Americas Gold & Silver, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, also owns and operates the Cosala Operation in Sinaloa, Mexico where silver, zinc and lead are mined. It manages the sixty-percent owned Galena Complex, a silver and lead mine in north Idaho and holds an option on the San Felipe development project in Sonora, Mexico.
“It’s no secret that we wanted the company to have more precious metal exposure and that we love Nevada,” Blasutti told investors in an October, 2018 conference call with investors.
The company statement reminds investors of mining risks and uncertainties such as commodity prices, currency fluctuations, variations in ore grade, ground conditions, labor relations, energy costs, equipment failures, accidental spills, permitting timelines, social and political conditions.
The cuts would come as a direct result of reduced tax collections caused by business closures across the Silver State due to the COVID-19 pandemic.