Aya Gold & Silver Inc. (TSX: AYA) is pleased to report results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2021. All amounts are in US dollars unless otherwise stated.
- Silver production of 338,624 ounces ("oz"), a 198% increase from Q3-2020
- Silver sales of 403,950 oz, a 396% increase from Q3-2020
- Revenue of $7.8 million, a 350% increase from Q3-2020
- Operating cash flow for the period of $5.9 million, compared with negative operating cash flow in Q3-2020
- Ore processed of 53,869 tonnes ("t"), a 107% increase from Q3-2020
- Mill recovery of 81%, a 29% increase from Q3-2020
- Tonnes mined averaged 609 tonnes per day ("tpd") as operations focused on development
- Successful completion of a C$70 million bought-deal public offering
- Production guidance increased to 1.55 million oz of silver ("Ag") following operational outperformance
- Preparation for the 2022 mine plan advancing well
- First fieldwork results from Imiter bis identified an over 4km potential strike and 5 priority drill targets
- Continued advancement of the Zgounder expansion feasibility study ("FS") and the Tijirit FS
- Enhanced financial position to $88 million of cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash
- Five drill rigs turning on Zgounder with resource estimate due by year-end
- Ranked #12 on the 2021 TSX30 as a top-performing company, with a 3-year share appreciation of +253%
- Inclusion in the VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) & VanEck Gold Miners ETF (GDX)
Zgounder Expansion Feasibility Study
At quarter-end, the Zgounder FS was 73% complete and the following milestones had been achieved:
- Process: 90% completed
- Hydrology: 95% completed
- Environment: 95% completed
- 40,703m of the scheduled 42,000m diamond drill program have been completed
- The exploration database is expected to close in mid-November to complete the resource update.
"The third quarter marks a year that the Aya team has been working together, and we saw the benefit of this in our results," said Benoit La Salle, President & CEO. "In the most challenging production quarter, we continued the trend of strong operational performance, posted record cash flow, closed a C$70 million financing, announced ongoing exploration success at Zgounder and initial promising results from Imiter bis, all while maintaining a heavy focus on mine development and advancing two feasibility studies. This lays the groundwork for several catalyst-rich quarters, starting with the updated resource estimate for Zgounder."
The quarter saw the Corporation return high-grade assays that defined the new Zgounder East Zone and expanded the down-dip and on-strike continuity of Zgounder mineralization. These areas remain open for future growth. Within the Zgounder East Zone, results confirmed continuity along strike with notable high-grade intervals such as holes ZG-21-40 and ZG-21-41 opening the zone at depth in previously undrilled areas below 2,000m. Significant results such as ZG-SF-21-25 extended Zgounder mineralized systems to the granite contact within the exploration target and will be followed up in Q4-2021. Additionally, hole ZG-SF-21-39 defined continuous high-grade mineralization below current mine galleries and remains open in both directions.
As a result of the positive results received year to date, the 2021 drill program at Zgounder was expanded from 35,000m to 42,000m into year-end. In the quarter, 15,834m of diamond drilling were carried out for a total of 40,703m completed to date (excluding T28 drilling). Currently, five drills are operating at Zgounder, three on surface and two at depth. The updated mineral resource estimate remains on track for delivery before year-end and will form the basis of the Zgounder maiden reserve estimate that will support the feasibility study.
The Corporation has engaged Geotech to fly a VTEM™ heliborne terrain, magnetic and radiometric geophysical survey over the entire Zgounder Regional project before year-end.
Imiter bis Exploration
In the quarter, the Corporation's initial fieldwork program at its Imiter bis Project identified a north-south structure extending over four kilometers long. Highlight grades from 2021 surface grab and channel sampling programs include 15.42 g/t Au, 289 g/t Ag, 5.51% Cu, 31.23% Pb and 10.23% Zn, showing potential for epithermal Au-Ag occurrence and copper-rich deposit. Five priority drill target zones were identified, and a 4,000m diamond drill program began in October 2021 on three of the zones.
During the quarter, a detailed ground magnetic survey was conducted over the same three zones together with a high-resolution multi-spectral study, The Corporation will also fly Geotech's VTEM™ heliborne terrain, magnetic and radiometric geophysical survey over the property before year-end.
Q3-2021 Zgounder Optimisation and Capital Projects
In the quarter, the Corporation ramped up its capital project activities including refurbishment of the cyanidation plant, replacement of the flotation plant cone crusher, ongoing construction of a new underground explosive depot, and the start of a new mine access at the 2,075m level.
Mining operations benefited from a full quarter using the new cut-and-fill stoping mining method and from easier extraction because of the wider access bay. As a result of the heavy development work in the quarter, mine extraction reached 609 tpd with 50,836t of ore blasted. Preparation for the 2022 mine plan is advancing well, with additional mining equipment being purchased to continue the mechanization of mining operations.
Silver recovery in the quarter increased to 81% relative to 63% for the same period in 2020. The slight decrease in Q3-2021 recovery compared to Q2-2021 is primarily due to a recovery rate of 79% at the cyanidation plant. Both issues are being addressed by the construction of a 60,000m3 water retention basin and a tailings thickener to minimize water discharge to the tailings dam. Recovery at the cyanidation plant is expected to improve in Q4-2021.
In the quarter, availabilities reached 87% and 89% for the flotation and cyanidation plants, respectively. Availability, which was impacted by a two-day planned shutdown of the flotation plant and a two-day unplanned shutdown of the cyanidation plant, is expected to continue to improve as maintenance processes mature.
The technical information contained in this press release pertaining to the Imiter bis Project was reviewed and approved by David Lalonde, B. Sc, Head of Exploration, designated as a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101. The technical information in this press release relating to the Zgounder Project was reviewed and approved by Dr. Marc-Antoine Audet, Ph.D. P. Geo, Geological Consultant, for accuracy and compliance with National Instrument 43-101.