VANCOUVER, Feb. 10, 2020 /CNW/ - Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd. (ASM: TSX/NYSE American, GV6: FSE, "Avino" or "the Company") is pleased to provide the following 2019-year end summary and outlook for 2020 for the Avino Mine.
Avino Mine, San Gonzalo Mine, and The Historic Above Ground Stockpiles
2019 Production Highlights
Silver equivalent production - 2,397,042 oz*
Silver production – 958,811 oz
Gold production – 6,912 oz
Copper production – 4,970,254 lbs
*In 2019, AgEq was calculated using metals prices of $16.20 oz Ag, $1,393 oz Au and $2.96 lb Cu
*During the three months and year ended December 31, 2019, the Company produced 958 and 20,412 AgEq oz, respectively, of zinc by-product concentrate which has been included in the "San Gonzalo" production category.
"The 2019 production was slightly under our internal expectations of between 2.4 and 2.6 million silver equivalent ounces*. With San Gonzalo reaching the end of its current resources in Q4 2019 and mining halted, we ended the year closer to the lower end of expectations. Operationally, we faced a few lost days of production during upgrades to the crusher, labour negotiations due to the transition of work from San Gonzalo, and heavy seasonal rain. On a positive note, we were able to increase throughput in Q3 2019 and improve recoveries during Q3 and Q4, stated David Wolfin, President and CEO. "In December, the Company closed the sale of Bralorne Gold Mines to Talisker Resources Ltd. for total cash and other consideration of close to $29 million, which has improved our financial position. The cost cutting initiatives in place during 2019 served us well, and we will continue to keep costs controlled to maintain financial health which is vital to the Company's continued success. As always, I'd like to thank all Avino personnel for their hard work and contributions made in 2019."
2019 Operational Highlights
The capital expenditures for 2019 were expected to total US$5.0 - $6.0 million and included the construction of a tailings thickener, an expansion to the existing Tailings Storage Facility ("TSF"), metallurgical projects to help improve recovery rates, and underground development at the Avino Mine.
We are pleased that the following 2019 objectives were achieved:
The construction and completion of the tailing's thickener, now in full operation which reduces water content sent to the tailing's facility;
Installation of a geomembrane in the old historic open pit to use for deposition of tailings is now permitted and a portion is ready for use;
Achieved higher mill throughput (2,500 tpd) and increased recoveries;
Achieved higher than expected production from the Historic Above Ground Stockpiles;
During the second quarter of 2019, there was some unplanned downtime due to labour negotiations that arose from the pending closure of the San Gonzalo Mine. The Company would like to reiterate its long-standing and continuing commitment to the community of Avino, and our fair treatment of all mine workers in accordance with Mexican labour laws, with low labour turnover.
Additionally, in July, results of a sampling campaign comprising 52 recent and historic holes that were previously drilled in the hanging-wall revealed significant and consistent metal grades and wide vein widths. This campaign was considered encouraging and has the potential to add mineable tonnage to the pipeline of near-term production.
During the third quarter, the Company closed a bought-deal financing for gross proceeds of C$6.9 million, which was used for further exploration of the Hanging wall area at the Avino Mine, and for further exploration and development activities on the Bralorne Mine property.
Capital expenditures are expected to total US$7.0 - $8.0 million, and will include the following:
During the year, the Company plans to spend $1.5 million drilling 11,500 metres at the Avino mine property and will target the areas of Avino, Avino West, the Santiago Vein and La Potosina. Exploration targets may not be limited to these four areas, and during the year our priority targets may change if geological interpretations on other areas present enhanced opportunity. We plan to provide detailed information on our exploration targets in the coming months.
In addition to the exploration budget, plant improvements have been approved for the following areas:
Dry Stack Tailings
Avino has been exploring the potential of dry stack tailings for its permitted tailings storage facility which we refer to as TSF #2. We continue to explore this potential through operational visits to existing dry stack facilities in the area, as well as requests for quotations from various vendors and suppliers. We have also sourced a contractor familiar with dry stack tailings construction that is well known to the Company. A construction decision could be made in early 2020.
A number of mill upgrades focused on automation to improve onstream data collection and operator decision making will be implemented during the year. These upgrades have the potential to improve mill availability, throughput, and recovery. After a rigorous vetting process a vendor has been selected and the Company hopes to commence the project early in the year.
Circuit 4 Improvements
Avino made various metallurgical improvements in Circuit 3 during 2019 which significantly improved gold and silver recovery through the use of a new piece of equipment. We will look to make the same improvements in Circuit 4 this year. The equipment has been ordered and is expected on site early in Q2 2020 and operational shortly thereafter.
It is expected that sustaining capital expenditures for 2020 will be US$2.0 - $3.0 million.
Avino's longevity demonstrates a commitment to maintaining our mission, vision and values. As we enter our 52nd year, we are looking forward to a positive and productive 2020 together with the potential continued strengthening of the market and of commodity prices.
BRALORNE GOLD MINE
The focus at Bralorne in 2019 was a drilling campaign that comprised two phases. The first phase carried on from Q4 2018 into Q1 2019 targeting underexplored portions of known veins and Phase two from Q1 to Q4 2019 was focused on targeting new discoveries in unexplored portions of the property. The drilling campaigns were funded by flow-through funds that were available to be used by December 31, 2019.
In the final quarter of the year, the Company negotiated the sale of Bralorne Gold Mines to Talisker Resources Ltd. which closed in December, with Avino receiving:
A cash consideration of C$8.7 million;
The issuance of 12.58 million common shares, comprising 9.9% of the issued and outstanding common shares of Talisker after the close of the transaction
The issuance of 6.29 million share purchase warrants exercisable at $0.25 per share until December 13, 2022, provided that if at any time following April 14, 2020 the closing price of Talisker's common shares exceeds $0.35 per share for 20 or more consecutive trading days, then Talisker may accelerate the expiry date of the warrants upon 30 days' notice to the Company;
A cash payment of US $2.5 million, contingent of the commencement of commercial production at the Bralorne mine; and
The transfer of all future restoration and reclamation obligation liabilities to Talisker.