GREENSTONE, Ont. — The Vancouver company building a new gold mine on the edge of Geraldton said it’s coming off a very good year, and is flush with cash to boot.
Equinox Gold chief executive officer Christian Milau said Thursday the last business quarter of 2021 was “outstanding,” with particularly good production performances at the company’s Mesquite mine in California, and Aurizona operation in Brazil.
Milau noted in a news release that construction on its Greenstone Mine in Geraldton also began in the fourth quarter. Greenstone is slated to pour its first bar of gold in 2024.
According to the release, the company has more than US$300 million in cash and $200 million in available credit, in addition to $450 million in various investments.
The company added no debt in 2021, which also marked the production of one million ounces of gold since its inception, Milau noted.
“Equinox Gold is in a strong position to deliver on our ambitious growth strategy in 2022, including commencing production at our new Santa Luz mine (also in Brazil), advancing construction at Greenstone and conducting exploration programs across our operations,” the news release said.
Milau earlier called the Greenstone Mine “a cornerstone asset” as well as “an industry example for responsible mineral development.”
The $1.23-billion open-pit mine is expected to create 500 direct jobs over a 14-year mine life.
Underground and near-mine deposits” that could expand the mine life” are also being explored.
Meanwhile, there has been pros and cons to the economic boom that the mine construction has sparked.
Dave Barker, a long-time Geraldton chamber of commerce executive, said many businesses have seen their sales jump as Equinox has made good whenever possible on a pledge to buy supplies and services from local businesses.
The downside, Barker said, is that some businesses have lost long-time employees to Equinox because they can’t match the higher compensation a big gold mine can offer.
Still, said Barker, many people who have been stuck in part-time jobs now have the opportunity to establish a full-time career in some part of the mine’s operation.
Before Equinox announced the project was finally going forward last fall, “there was a feeling that without the mine the town would wither away,” Barker said.
Carl Clutchey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal