Reports Record Quarterly Production Of 459,061 Ounces
Aya Gold & Silver Inc. (TSX: AYA, OTCQX: AYASF) (“Aya” or the “Corporation”) is pleased to report interim financial and operational results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2022. All amounts are in US dollars unless otherwise stated.
“Congratulations to the operations team for delivering a standout second quarter with record-setting production, which benefited from strong recoveries and best-ever throughput. As expected, Zgounder saw meaningful improvement in grade as we accessed richer ore and achieved greater mining capacity, positioning us well to achieve our full-year production guidance. We enjoyed additional exploration success this quarter with further resource delineation at Zgounder and the completion of airborne geophysical surveys on Zgounder Regional, Boumadine and Imiter bis. Considerable progress was also made on the Zgounder Expansion Project with the on-schedule delivery of the FEED, the first of our construction milestones,” said Benoit La Salle, President and CEO.
“Last, but not least, I'm very proud of the progress we are making and the impact that we are having with our sustainability goals and initiatives. Specifically, we have increased board diversity, launched our first larger-scale community project, and demonstrated leadership in regard to local employment and procurement."
Q2-2022 Operations Review
The focus in the second quarter of 2022 was on accelerating development of the underground mine infrastructure to support the mine expansion. A total of 765m of permanent lateral infrastructure was completed in Q2-2022, for a total of 1,130m year to date, in line with the planned ramp-up. New mining equipment was received during the quarter to sustain production efforts and to accelerate ground support.
Due to the implementation of effective water measures, there was no water-related impact on production despite an exceptionally dry season compared to last year.
As part of the preparations for the expansion, detailed engineering of the tailings storage facility (“TSF”) began and the plant FEED was completed by Lycopodium. The construction team was fully mobilised on site as earthworks are planned to start mid-Q3-2022. Negotiations are ongoing for the engineering procurement construction (“EPC”) contract for the plant.
Mine & Milling Operations
During the second quarter, a production record of 459,061 oz was reached at a global silver recovery of 87.9%, another record for Zgounder. The cyanidation plant operated at 97.1% availability, and the flotation plant at 83.9% due to crusher maintenance, resulting in a total milling rate of 659 tpd. A total of 59,995t were milled at a grade of 273 g/t Ag. Silver grade significantly increased on a quarter-over-quarter basis as new stopes prepared during the first quarter came into operation.
During the second quarter, a mining production record of 63,817t was achieved, at a grade of 278 g/t for a production rate of 701 tpd including a monthly record of 809 tpd in June. This was primarily due to stope planning in the previous quarter and to a lesser degree, to the delivery of new mining equipment.
The bulk of capital projects completed this quarter related to mine production. Two scoops, a dumper, two scissor lift platforms and jackhammers were delivered in Q2-2022 and incorporated into production. A temporary explosive storage facility was completed and commissioned to ensure timely commencement of the new mill’s earthworks in Q3-2022. A platform was constructed for mobilisation of the CMAC mining contractor, responsible for vertical mine infrastructure. Commissioning of the cyanidation tailings thickener commenced, with its full impact on improving water and silver recoveries expected in Q3-2022.
The construction pace for mining infrastructure continues to closely track the planned development ramp-up: out of the 1,130m of infrastructure completed year-to-date, 765m were advanced in Q2-2022, double the amount of the first quarter. This is expected to continue to increase throughout the year.
In Q2, an on-site independent third-party sample preparation room was commissioned by African Laboratory for Mining and the Environment that will accelerate the turnover time of our sample analysis.
On February 22, 2022, Aya completed an expansion FS to grow Zgounder production from 700 tpd to 2,700 tpd capacity (see press release dated February 22, 2022) that includes a maiden reserve estimate of 8.59 Mt at an average grade of 257 g/t for 70.9 Moz silver. The initial estimated capital expenditures are $139.4 million, and the first silver pour is planned in Q1-2024. Post-expansion, the mine is expected to produce 7.9 Moz silver for an initial life of mine of 11 years at an all-in sustaining cost (“AISC”) of $9.58/oz. Project economics, using a silver price of $22 per oz, indicate an after-tax 5% present value (“NPV”) of $373 million and an after-tax Internal Rate of Return (“IRR”) of 48%.
In the second quarter, Aya continued advancing the Zgounder Expansion Project towards a projected construction start-up by Q3-2022, notably by achieving the following items:
Zgounder Expansion Projected Timeline (as of June 30, 2022)
The second quarter saw the Corporation return high-grade DDH results that continued to expand the eastern zone and further defined the upper areas of the Zgounder Mine underground workings. During the period, three surface drills targeted the surface extensions of the eastern zones and the central portion of the Zgounder deposit. The objective was to increase the resources in the far eastern portion of the deposit for the proposed open pit designation. Several holes were also designed to confirm the vertical and lateral continuity of known mineralized envelopes.
Notably, near-surface hole TD28-22-2030-042 returned the thickest high-grade silver intercept publicly recorded on the property and significantly extended the work area by delineating a new area between two mineralized zones. Hole ZG- 22-47 confirmed the northern extension of mineralized body 8y1965-2110. Hole ZG-22-47 returned 47.9m (from 126.5m to 174.4m) of mineralization with several strikes of native silver (plating in joints and passages in dissemination) and sulfide (blend with mostly pyrite and galena in traces).
The geophysical airborne survey of the Zgounder Regional permits was completed in June comprising a total of 8,543-line kilometers (“km”). Results will be combined with those from the mapping program and the hyperspectral data to generate targets for a drilling program planned to start in Q3-2022. Mapping and prospecting continued in the quarter. A total of 609 grab samples have been taken year to date, and several geological targets are already emerging.
A 349-line km airborne geophysical survey was completed in April comprising magnetic, radiometric, and electromagnetic surveys. The 7,500m DDH program commenced in May on the Central Zone, with a total of 4,210m completed by quarter-end. Massive sulphide mineralized zones have been intersected in many holes, confirming the extension of the Boumadine structures. Results are expected in the third quarter.
Phase I of drilling at Imiter bis was completed in April 2022, with 624m of diamond drilling in Q2-2022, bringing the 2022 total to 4,754m. Assay results are expected to be fully received by early Q3-2022 and will inform Phase II which is scheduled for Q4-2022.
The airborne geophysical survey comprising magnetic, radiometric, and electromagnetic over 554km linear kilometers was completed in April.
The technical information relating to the Zgounder, Boumadine and Imiter bis Projects was reviewed and approved by David Lalonde, B. Sc, Head of Exploration, designated as a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101.
About Aya Gold & Silver Inc.
Aya Gold & Silver Inc. is a rapidly growing, Canada-based silver producer with operations in the Kingdom of Morocco.
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.
Aya’s management team has been focused on maximising shareholder value by anchoring sustainability at the heart of its operations, governance, and financial growth plans.
For additional information, please visit Aya’s website at www.ayagoldsilver.com.
Benoit La Salle, FCPA FCA
President & CEO
VP, Corporate Development & IR