Montreal, Quebec, July 7 2022 - Aya Gold & Silver Inc. (TSX: AYA; OTCQX: AYASF) (“Aya” or the “Corporation”) is pleased to report that it has completed the Front-End Engineering Design (“FEED”) with Lycopodium, and to provide an update on the expansion of the Zgounder Silver Mine in the Kingdom of Morocco.
“We are pleased to announce the timely completion of the FEED, which is an important first milestone in Zgounder’s expansion, setting the pace for upcoming deliverables especially the procurement of long-lead items and the finalization of the plant construction contract. Our updated, simplified flowsheet keeps CAPEX and OPEX costs in line with the feasibility study and improves operability,” said Benoit La Salle, President & CEO. “As we prepare to break ground, our entire team remains focused on maintaining the highest health and safety standard while advancing Zgounder on budget and on schedule.”
Zgounder Expansion Update Highlights
As of June 30, 2022, the following milestones have been achieved:
- Completion of the FEED, including flowsheet modifications. During the FEED phase, the following was achieved:
- Completion of additional metallurgical test work at the SGS facilities in Lakefield, Canada, and at other vendor testing facilities.
- Simplification of the processing plant flowsheet (see exhibit 1 and Appendices), which was a Feasibility Study (“FS”) recommendation. Based on the test work results obtained during the FEED and a review of the process with Lycopodium Minerals Canada Ltd. (“Lycopodium”), the Corporation decided to remove the flotation and CIP circuits and process the whole ore flow in a leaching circuit, followed by Counter Current Decantation (“CCD”) and a Merrill-Crowe circuit for the silver extraction.
- The new, whole-ore-leach process plant flowsheet will allow for better process water management and recycling. Furthermore, the CCD circuit will offer greater operational flexibility and leverage existing operating expertise.
- Revision and optimization of the process design criteria, mass and water balances, and the process flow diagrams.
- Initial draft of the piping and instrumentation diagrams, and issuance of a preliminary process control philosophy document.
- Quotations for 21 mechanical equipment packages, including all key long-lead items, have been received from a pre-approved list of vendors:
- All quotations received are firm price offers. More than 90% (in value) of the mechanical equipment procurement offers for the new process plant have been received and re-confirm the process plant CAPEX and OPEX estimated in the FS.
- A supplier for the ball mill package has been selected, and final terms and conditions are being negotiated. A purchase order is expected shortly. When complete, it will be a key milestone firming up the construction timeline of the project.
- Update and optimization of the 3D model of the plant developed during the FS:
- Inclusion of placeholders for additional process equipment that could potentially expand the new process plant capacity from 2,000 tonnes per day (“tpd”) to 3,000 tpd with limited adverse impact.
- Award of a contract for the earthworks for the new process plant and the new haulage road to a major Moroccan contractor. Mobilisation to site is planned for the second half of July 2022.
- The Corporation is currently in discussions with two engineering and project delivery companies regarding construction of the processing plant and expects to receive both offers before month-end. The Corporation expects to select the contractor and award the contract in the coming months.
- Groupement des Consultants et Ingénieurs du Maroc (“GCIM”), a local Moroccan civil engineering firm, has been awarded the contract for the detailed design of the new Tailings Storage Facility (“TSF”). Additionally, the Corporation has awarded the Engineer of Record (“EoR”) mandate to EPOCH Resources Pty, a well-known South African civil engineering company. The companies have begun to collaborate on the detailed design of the first phase of the new TSF.
- Following successful construction of the first 60,000 m³ water storage basin, the Corporation and GCIM are working together to develop similar water storage facilities to ensure sufficient raw water storage capacity prior to commissioning of the new process plant.
- Mine underground development on schedule and aligned with the FS:
- A total of 1,130 m of lateral underground mine development effected to date.
- Mobilisation of CMAC-Thyssen in July 2022 and start of vertical mine development in August 2022.
- The Corporation’s internal construction team is complete.
- As of June 30, 2022, the Zgounder expansion is on budget and on schedule.
Exhibit 1 – 3D Model of New Zgounder Process Plant
Exhibit 2 – Zgounder Expansion Timeline
An animated video of the Corporation’s FS including the updated flowsheet can be viewed here.
The technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Patrick Perez, P.Eng, Director of Technical Services, a Qualified Person as defined under NI 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
This press release contains certain statements that constitute forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws (“forward-looking statements”), which reflects management's expectations regarding Aya’s future growth and business prospects (including the timing and development of new deposits and the success of exploration activities) and other opportunities. Wherever possible, words such as "improves”, “advance”, “allow”, “offer”, “confirm”, “expect”, “potentially”, “ensure”, “expand”, “, “believe”, “intend”, “ability to” and similar expressions or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might”, “will”, or are “likely” to be taken, occur or be achieved, have been used to identify such forward-looking information. Specific forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements and information with respect to the exploration and development potential of Zgounder and the conversion of Inferred Mineral Resources into Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources, future opportunities for enhancing development at Zgounder, and timing for the release of the Company's disclosure in connection with the foregoing, the capacity of the Company to continue to advance its expansion plan on time and on budget and the capacity of the Company to finance its expansion plans. Although the forward-looking information contained in this press release reflect management's current beliefs based upon information currently available to management and based upon what management believes to be reasonable assumptions, Aya cannot be certain that actual results will be consistent with such forward-looking information. Such forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions, opinions and analysis made by management in light of its experience, current conditions, and its expectations of future developments that management believe to be reasonable and relevant but that may prove to be incorrect. These assumptions include, among other things, the closing and timing of equity or debt financing required for the construction of the expansion project, the ability to obtain any requisite governmental approvals and enter into necessary investment agreements to facilitate the investment with certain concessions, obtaining regulatory permits for on site work, importing goods and machinery and employment permits, the accuracy of Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource Estimates (including, but not limited to, ore tonnage and ore grade estimates), the price of silver, the price of gold, exchange rates, fuel and energy costs, future economic conditions, anticipated future estimates of free cash flow, and courses of action. Aya cautions you not to place undue reliance upon any such forward-looking statements.
The risks and uncertainties that may affect forward-looking statements include, among others: the inherent risks involved in exploration and development of mineral properties, including government approvals and permitting, changes in economic conditions, changes in the worldwide price of silver gold and other key inputs, changes in mine plans (including, but not limited to, throughput and recoveries being affected by metallurgical characteristics) and other factors, such as project execution delays, many of which are beyond the control of Aya, as well as other risks and uncertainties which are more fully described in Aya's 2021 Annual Information Form dated March 31, 2022, and in other filings of Aya with securities and regulatory authorities which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Aya does not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements should assumptions related to these plans, estimates, projections, beliefs, and opinions change. Nothing in this document should be construed as either an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy or sell Aya securities. All references to Aya include its subsidiaries unless the context requires otherwise.
Appendix 1 – 3D Image of Zgounder Expanded Processing Plant
Appendix 2 – Revised Flowsheet for Zgounder Expansion