Equinox pours first gold at Santa Luz mine in Brazil


A majority of the infrastructure is already in place, including a process plant capable of treating 7,400 t/d of ore through a combination of crushing and grinding, gravity concentration, RIL, elution and electrowinning. Equinox’s mine design includes the addition of a new ball mill, new RIL circuit and new gravity concentration circuit, with its own alkaline electrowinning circuit.

Construction of the mine began in November 2020 and was completed on time and on budget, with no lost-time injuries. The initial budget was set at $103 million, which includes capital costs related to refurbishing the existing infrastructure, retrofitting the plant, installing additional grinding power, and increasing the storage capacities of the existing tailings and water storage facilities.

Commissioning of the mine commenced in February 2022, and the mine is expected to ramp up to commercial production over the next few months. At capacity, it is expected to produce approximately 100,000 oz. of gold a year over a 9.5-year mine life. With a partial year of production during 2022, gold output is likely to fall between 70,000 and 90,000 oz.

A 2020 feasibility study pegged the Santa Luz mine project at an after-tax net present value of $305 million (base case, 5% discount), with an internal rate of return of 58%, assuming a gold price of $1,500/oz.

Total production of over 900,000 oz. is expected to generate $436 million in after-tax net cash flow over the life of mine, according to the FS report. Average LOM all-in sustaining costs were calculated at $877/oz.

As of the 2020 study, the Santa Luz mine had 1.1 million oz. of proven and probable mineral reserves grading 1.34 g/t gold.

According to Equinox, the Santa Luz mine boasts expansion potential from underground development opportunities and several exploration targets within the greenstone belt that extends towards the Fazenda mine.

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