Greenstone Mine celebrates first gold pour

It's a gold renaissance in Greenstone.

Equinox Gold Corporation hosted a small gathering to witness its inaugural gold pour at the Greenstone Mine on May 22.

Greenstone Mayor James McPherson, municipal councillors, and representatives from local First Nations attended the event.

Timing of this first pour is right on schedule according to what Eric Lamontagne, the mine's general manager, told Dougall Media reporters in December, ahead of the wet commissioning process.

Dougall Media recently caught up with Lamontagne following the first gold pour. He said municipal officials and First Nations representatives were impressed with what they saw and he felt a sense of pride for his team as they achieved this milestone.

“It was a big achievement for us . . . It was an amazing day for sure,” he said.

The first pour produced 1,800 ounces of gold with no deficiencies detected and all equipment operating as anticipated. At full capacity, the Greenstone Mine is expected to produce around 400,000 ounces of gold annually for the first five years and 360,000 ounces on average over the rest of the mine’s 14-year life.

Lamontagne confirmed the mine is currently running 24/7.

Now, with the first gold pour of the year complete, Lamontagne said his team’s next goal is to achieve 60 per cent markup on the gold they produce. He noted how this relates to the Greenstone Mine’s “throughput” (i.e. the speed and efficiency with which gold is processed, in this case).

“That 60 per cent means we will operate at 60 per cent of our throughput for 30 days. After that, the next milestone will be 80 per cent markup where we’ll operate for 30 days at 80 per cent.

“Each step adds a little bit more difficulty – you need to have things more and more stable to achieve every step. But it’s normal when you start (a new mining operation), you have a lot of small things to fix and you lose an hour here and an hour there,” he said.

From the project’s initial conception in 2007 to now, the Greenstone Mine has come a long way.

“Without that first step, you are unable to have success for the next step after. It’s the base, the foundation,” Lamontagne said.

Despite daily variations in throughput and mineral grading, Lamontagne is confident the Greenstone Mine will reach its goal of 400,000 ounces of gold for the year.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,