Aura Minerals wants to reactivate projects under care and maintenance

San Andrés mine in Honduras. Photo by Aura Minerals.

Mid-tier gold and copper miner Aura Minerals (TSX:ORA) announced that it is working towards reactivating its Aranzazu and São Francisco gold projects in Mexico and Brazil, respectively.

During a conference call held to announce its consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, President and CEO Rodrigo Barbosa said that besides making efforts to bring the mines on standby back into production, the company is planning to cut costs associated with its active mines.

In Mexico, Aura is ready to restart operations at Aranzazu, its 11,380-hectare copper-gold-silver project located within the municipality of Concepción del Oro in the northeastern region of the state of Zacatecas. According to Barbosa, management is already hiring new staff.

The open pit and underground mine was placed on care-and-maintenance on January 15, 2015, due to low commodity prices and the absence of available additional financing needed to maintain or expand the operation.

However, earlier this month, Aura announced that it has entered into a $20 million loan facility and an off-take agreement with Louis Dreyfus Company Metals for the restart of operations and copper concentrates to be produced from Aranzazu.

Further south, in Brazil, the management is assessing the possibility of restarting its São Francisco gold mine, where only processing from previous production continues.

São Francisco is an open-pit, heap leach gold mine located in western Mato Grosso state, approximately 50 kilometres southeast of the São Vicente mine in the Guapore gold belt. The property consists of four contiguous mining and exploration permits, covering approximately 16,370 hectares.

“We initiated our fines recovery project from the tailings in São Francisco. We had very positive results in the first two months. However, we do not maintain minimum production due to a number of reasons,” Barbosa said. “We’re currently conducting an exploration program at São Francisco and we’re analyzing the possibility or probability for a restart.”

At the Honduran Río Alegre gold project -the CEO added-, Aura continues to invest in care and maintenance and is now analyzing samples to further assess its potential.

In terms of last year’s results, the Tortola-based miner produced 136.168 ounces of gold at San Andrés and Brazil’s Ernesto/Pau a Pique. “We brought an increase of 11% over 2016 that we sold 131.500 ounces. Our cash cost in Brazil was $108 per ounce, 2.3% decrease versus 2016 and $126 per ounce in Honduras, which is 2.8% increase,” Barbosa said.

For 2018, the company expects to achieve 130,000 to 160,000 ounces with the cash cost averaged between $760 to $950 per ounce.