The only TSX-listed pure silver mining company, Aya operates the high-grade Zgounder Silver Mine and is exploring its properties along the prospective South-Atlas Fault, several of which have hosted past-producing mines and historical resources. Aya’s Moroccan mining assets are complemented by its Tijirit Gold Project in Mauritania, which is being advanced to feasibility.
Montreal, Quebec, May 12, 2023 - Aya Gold & Silver Inc. (TSX: AYA, OTCQX: AYASF) (“Aya” or the “Corporation”) is pleased to announce interim financial and operational results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2023. All amounts are in thousands of US dollars unless otherwise stated.
First Quarter 2023 Highlights
“We had an excellent start in 2023, with strong cash flow and silver production of 474,813 ounces, our second-highest quarterly production to date, which was driven by record mill processing,” said Benoit La Salle, President and CEO. “Our ongoing focus on mechanization through the delivery of new trucks contributed to mining averaging 922 tpd in the quarter, and even 1,027 tpd in March. We expect to maintain the momentum gained over the past quarters in the remainder of the year, putting us firmly on track for achieving 2023 production guidance.
Furthermore, the Zgounder Mine expansion is one third complete and continues to track on budget. After the quarter, we received exceptional drill results from Boumadine that, coupled with the discovery of new stockwork mineralization, extended the footprint to 3.4km which remains open along strike and at depth. The strong cash flow from Zgounder, combined with our enhanced balance sheet, places us on solid footing to expand our drilling efforts and resource and deliver value for all stakeholders.”
Q1-2023 Operational and Financial Highlights
First Quarter 2023 Financial & Operational Highlights
Q1-2023 Operations Review
During the first quarter, the Zgounder team focused on preparing for the ramp up of the underground mine from 700 tpd to 1,200 tpd through 2024. An average mining rate of 922 tpd was achieved in the first quarter, with a record of 1,027 tpd in March 2023. Three underground dumper trucks and one loader were delivered on site, enhancing production in Q1-2023, and most particularly in March 2023. In Q2-2023, the open pit contractor is expected to mobilise.
Over 1,035 hours of employee health & safety training were dispensed in the areas of fire management, supervision, and including certification of aptitude in safe driving of R482 trucks for underground machinery operators.
Construction of the plant and surface infrastructure continued to track on budget. At the end of Q1-2023, overall construction was 32% complete, and engineering for the entirety of the project had reached 80% (see Figure 1).
During the quarter, the main equipment on the critical path continued their fabrication to plan and on schedule. Work on the new tailings and water storage facilities is progressing as planned. Bulk earthworks were nearly complete, and civil works were tracking as planned. The power line contractor began erecting pylons along the path, and the power line is tracking to schedule.
Underground mining activities continued in line with the planned timeline with over 5,100m of lateral development completed. The vertical development contractor began working during the quarter and had completed 140m of vertical development by quarter-end. A portion of the new mining equipment arrived on site to support the ramp up of the underground mine, achieving an average daily mining rate of 922 tpd.
At the end of Q1-2023, $119 million had been contracted across all capital cost categories and $26.5 million had been incurred.
The table below presents construction progress by main project area:
A total of 3,263 m of DDH and RC drilling was conducted on Zgounder near-mine targets (exploration and definition drilling) in the first quarter, principally to confirm the vertical and lateral continuity of known mineralized envelopes. In addition, 5,557m of T28 and Yak underground drilling were completed. In Q1-2023, the final results from the 2022 drilling campaign were received. Surface drill holes ZG-DCD-22-06 and ZG-DCD-22-07 intersected 1,220 g/t Ag over 6.5m and 846 g/t Ag over 9.5m, respectively, confirming high-grade mineralization at depth towards the contact with the granite and outside of the resource envelope. Two drill surface drill rigs and two underground rigs are currently active on the property.
In the first quarter of 2023, 3,948m of DDH drilling were completed on Zgounder Regional properties, mainly on the Zgounder Far West, Tala and Izza drill areas. The Tala and Izza areas were also prioritized as they had both returned high-grade grab samples in silver, copper and gold associated with a very strong spectral alteration signature. Results are expected in H1-2023.
All results from last year’s sediment geochemistry program have been received and integrated with our geophysics and spectral data, adding to our understanding of the properties.
The first quarter saw the Corporation intensify its DDH program at Boumadine with the objective of exploring strike length extensions and the central zone at depth. In February 2023, results from Q4-2022 drilling were released, confirming that parallel zones had been discovered along the main trend in addition to the historically known mineralization at the Tizi Zone.
At quarter-end, a total of 12,700m had been drilled and five drill rigs were turning, up from three in January. Results from the first-quarter program were released in mid-April, confirming the extension of the main trend mineralization to 3.4km in strike; with BOU-DD23-095 intersecting 129.4m of mineralization. In addition, a new style of mineralization was identified. The new mineralization consists of a large sulphide stockwork zone (sulphide-rich stringer) comprising five distinct massive sulphide veins. The concentration of sulphide veinlets in these stockwork varies from 8% to 15% and is composed mainly of pyrite with traces of sphalerite, galena, and chalcopyrite. This new mineralization encountered in BOU-DD23-095 significantly opens the potential at depth and toward the south.
The main mineralization generally consists of 1m to 4m wide (locally reaching over a 10m width) N340-oriented massive sulphide lenses/veins sharply dipping eastward (>70°). The massive sulphide veins (>80%) are mainly composed of pyrite, with variable proportions of sphalerite, galena, and chalcopyrite.
The technical information relating to Zgounder, Zgounder Regional and Boumadine properties was reviewed and approved by David Lalonde, B. Sc, Head of Exploration, designated as a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101.
Q1-2023 Conference Call
The Corporation will hold a conference call today at 10 am EDT to discuss its Q1-2023 financial and operational results. The webcast can be accessed as follows:
The conference call and webcast will be available for replay by dialing (+1) 416-764-8677 or toll-free on 1-888-390-0541, entry code 955969 #. The conference call replay will expire on May 19, 2023.
The presentation slides will also be posted on Aya’s website.
*DISCLAIMER: Aya Gold & Silver is a paid marketing client
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