Equinox Gold Corp. (TSX: EQX, NYSE: EQX) reported on Monday that the community blockade at its Los Filos mine in Mexico has been removed.
Los Filos has begun a staged restart and is working toward achieving full operations in December, the company said.
The Agrarian Council of Carrizalillo said that while its encampment was lifted, the community and company did not reach an agreement for mine operations to resume.
“The community continues to keep watch over mine gates to prevent a restart, limiting access to personnel responsible for safety and security measures during the shut down. The company’s announcement and, in particular, its decision to start calling back workers and contractors is perceived as a provocation, raising serious concerns about the risk that this could lead to confrontations,” said the council in a press release.
The protesters claim that Equinox had a racist and discriminatory attitude against the residents and had also violated clauses of the contract related to the protection of their health and the environment.
Members of the community said that 21 workers have been infected with covid-19 in the last months, some of whom have died.
The company said it remains in negotiations to reach a final agreement with the community on a few remaining issues related to benefits provided under the Carrizalillo social collaboration agreement.
“Although the blockade has been a setback, we fully expect the company to resume activities on the Los Filos expansion (development of the higher grade Guadalupe pit, the Bermejal underground, and construction of a CIL plant),” BMO Capital Markets said in a note.
According to company files, Los Filos has a 20-year mine life (2019-28), during which 3.2 million ounces of gold are expected to be recovered.
Equinox said from 2021, average annual output will be 350,000 ounces, and that number will rise to 420,000 ounces going forward until 2024.
Midday Monday, Equinox’s stock was down 1.2% on the TSE. The company has a C$3.26 billion market capitalization.