The plant is part of the mine expansion project that will take the milling rate to 2,700 t/d from 700 t/d. The mining project is a joint venture of Aya (85%) and the government of Morocco (15%). The feasibility study for the expansion will be published in the first quarter 2022. Expect a new resource estimate for the project, located about 150 km south of Marrakech, will be complete by the end of 2021.
Detailed design has also begun on the first phase of over 4,400 metres of mine infrastructure. Mine development will begin in the first quarter 2022. The first phase of work involving ventilation raises, multiple level access, as well as ore and waste chutes is expected to take 15 months.
Aya is in discussions with a number of engineering and construction companies about the project, and it has hired Joel Desmeules to lead the construction team. He was previously the construction manager at the Tasiast plant expansion in Mauritania.
The Zgounder mine will produce about 1.6 million oz. of silver this year, compared to 726,319 oz. in 2020. It is a joint venture of Aya (85%) and the government of Morocco (15%). The property contains 44.4 million oz. of silver in 4.9 million measured and indicated tonnes grading 282,000 g/t silver and 395,000 oz of silver in 125,000 inferred tonnes grading 209 g/t silver.
The Zgounder silver deposit was explored and mine historically as early as 900 to 1200. Aya acquired the property in 2012 and reopened the mine, making the first silver pour in 2014 with a 200-t/d mill. The added flotation plant reached commercial production in 2019.