Operations Suspended at Relief Canyon
President and CEO Darren Blasutti said the company continues to look at alternatives to improve the metallurgical recovery at Relief Canyon and believes “there remains significant value in the asset despite the initial challenges.” The company met several important commissioning targets, including initial construction capital, and planned mining and crushing rates, but the ramp-up at Relief Canyon has been and continues to be challenging since the operation poured first gold in February 2020. During this period, the company and its consultants performed extensive analyses and implemented a number of procedural changes to address the startup challenges typical of a heap leach operation. The mine encountered carbonaceous material within the Relief Canyon, which was not accounted for in the feasibility study.
The company began two small runof- mine test pads in the first quarter to evaluate the possibility of simplifying the flowsheet by bypassing the crushing and conveying circuits and transitioned to this method of ore placement in May. However, the operation has not seen a sustained material increase in recoveries to date. Additional improvements in the predictive ability of the resource model are progressing with incorporation of the latest geological detail from recent pit mapping as well as new data from an extensive re-assaying program of 13,000 historic exploration pulp samples for the presence of carbonaceous material. Completion of this data compilation and analysis is targeted for late in the third quarter. Management also initiated several metallurgical test work programs to investigate ore treatment options, including carbonin- leach processing.