Record Production and Exploration Activity Forecasted in 2021
MONTREAL, March 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Aya Gold & Silver Inc. (TSX: AYA) (“Aya” or the “Corporation”) today reported its financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2020. All amounts are in US dollars unless otherwise stated.
2020 Highlights (as of December 31, 2020)
2021 Outlook & Year So Far
“Congratulations to the entire Aya team for their hard work and continued dedication in 2020,” said Benoit La Salle, President and CEO. “All areas including operations, exploration and development saw meaningful improvements and even all-time bests, especially in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a successful 2021. We expect to achieve many milestones at Zgounder in 2021 including record silver production of 1.2 million oz in addition to completing our feasibility study and our most extensive drill program yet, enabling us to reach our strategic goal of 100 million oz of silver resources by year-end. We are executing on our vision and are on a path to generating additional shareholder value through our work at Zgounder and our regional exploration activities in Morocco.”
2020 Annual Highlights
2020 Annual Financial & Operational Highlights
A portion of the 2020 highlights results from a series of operational changes implemented in late Q3 2020 under the Zgounder operations turnaround plan:
Fourth Quarter 2020 Financial & Operational Highlights
The following highlights were positively impacted by a series of operational changes implemented in late Q3 2020 under the Zgounder operations turnaround plan:
A 12-month operational optimization plan was launched at Zgounder to achieve its nameplate capacity of 700 tpd. In late Q3 2020, four main operational improvements were implemented including flowsheet reorganization, grade control, selective mining, and milling throughput. The most important improvement was the reconfiguration of the processing flowsheet, which separated the cyanidation and flotation plant operations. Following the operational changes, throughput, ore processing, recoveries, and production substantially increased.
In August, the Corporation launched a feasibility study to assess expansion of the Zgounder Silver Mine capacity from 700 to 2,000 tpd. Since then, the Corporation has engaged several contractors in specific areas related to the feasibility study. Geotechnical, hydrological, and metallurgical field work has already commenced, and a budget of $2.4 million has been set for its completion.
2020 Exploration Review
In 2020, the initial 15,000m exploration program at Zgounder was expanded twice to follow up on strong results, completing the year with 284 diamond drill holes over 19,000m of drilling. The exploration program had two objectives: first, to increase the confidence level of the mineral resources by converting the 28.3 million silver oz of inferred mineral resource into the M&I classification; and second, to identify new prospective mineralization at depth and better characterize the mineral resource potential in the eastern part of the deposit. The Corporation succeeded on both counts, extending the mineralization approximately 90m along the eastern strike extension and at depth.
Following completion of the 2020 exploration program, an updated mineral resource statement for Zgounder was compiled together with drilling results from 2018 and 2019. In addition to M&I mineral resources increasing to 44.4 million oz of silver, an exploration target of 3-6 million tonnes grading 190-295 g/t silver for 20-60 million silver oz was established for Zgounder at depth and along lateral extensions. The exploration target was derived from a larger mineralized envelope including all mineral intersects while excluding the mineral resources reported. The potential quantity and grade of the exploration target are conceptual in nature, and there has been insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource.
An initial exploration budget of $6.7 million has been set for Zgounder in 2021 for a total of 41,000m of drilling. Of these 41,000m, 35,000m of diamond drill holes will be completed on the Zgounder mining permit and 6,000m of RC drilling will be conducted on the Zgounder regional permits. The 35,000m drilling program will focus on the exploration target area with the view to further expanding the resource and supporting a maiden reserve statement.
Exploration activities involving field work and geophysics and 9,000m of drilling will commence on the other Moroccan properties, Azegour, Amizmiz and Imiter bis, in the second half of 2021.
About Aya Gold & Silver Inc.
Aya Gold & Silver Inc. is a publicly traded Canadian company focused on the operation, exploration, acquisition and development of silver and gold deposits. Aya is currently operating mining and processing facilities at its Zgounder Silver Mine, an 85%-15% joint venture between its subsidiary, Zgounder Millenium Silver Mining SA, and the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (“ONHYM”) of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Aya’s mining portfolio also includes the Boumadine polymetallic deposit located in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Eastern Morocco, which is also a joint venture with ONHYM wherein Aya retains an 85% ownership. Additionally, the Corporation’s portfolio includes the Amizmiz and Azegour properties, both being 100% owned, with gold, tungsten, molybdenum, and copper occurrences in the center of a historical mining district of Morocco.
For additional information, please visit Aya’s website at www.ayagoldsilver.com.
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 opportunities, results of operations, performance (both operational and financial), business prospects (including the timing and development of new deposits and the success of exploration activities) and other opportunities. Wherever possible, words such as “plans”, “expects”, “does not expect”, “scheduled”, “trends”, “indications”, “potential”, “estimates”, “predicts”, “anticipate”, “to establish”, “does not anticipate”, “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, cost guidance and forecasting consolidated silver production for 2021, timing of closing of the Algold Resources Ltd. acquisition, 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 the preparation and filing of applicable feasibility studies in connection therewith. 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 financing, the ability to obtain any requisite governmental approvals, the accuracy of mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates (including, but not limited to, ore tonnage and ore grade estimates), silver price, 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 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 2019 Annual Information Form dated May 14, 2020, 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.
Contact: Benoit La Salle, FCPA FCA, President & CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org; Alex Ball, VP, Corporate Development & IR, email@example.com