"When operating at capacity, Greenstone will be our largest and lowest-cost mine, so we are really at a pivotal point in the company’s history."

Greg Smith


April 19, 2024

Can you share some recent major developments and milestones at Equinox Gold?

Greenstone was our key focus in 2023 from a development perspective. We started construction in Q4 2021, and by year-end 2023 construction was effectively complete and our focus had shifted to commissioning. After 2.5 years of construction, we are still on track to pour gold in the first half of 2024, which is an outstanding accomplishment for the team. When operating at capacity, Greenstone will be our largest and lowest-cost mine, so we are really at a pivotal point in the company’s history.

During 2023 we also advanced engineering and permitting for an underground expansion at our Aurizona mine in Brazil, and we advanced permitting and front-end engineering design for a large expansion at our Castle Mountain mine in California. And of course, we explored across the portfolio with a focus on reserve replacement and mine life extension, as well as some regional exploration to identify new targets.

In 2023, at our seven operating mines in California, Mexico and Brazil we launched an Asset Optimization Program focused on operational and cost control efficiencies that resulted in significant savings and efficiency improvements while achieving a 6% increase to production compared to the previous year. We will continue those efforts in 2024.

What have been the main challenges you have faced advancing the Greenstone project to this stage?

Our primary challenges were keeping the project on budget in an inflationary environment and keeping the project on schedule amid the shipping constraints and other complexities post-Covid. The team did an exceptional job keeping the project on track. We were also very advanced from a geotechnical and engineering perspective before we broke ground for construction, which meant we knew exactly what we were building and had very few scope changes. We did multiple internal and external reviews to ensure our assumptions and strategy were appropriate for a successful build. In addition, most of the senior Greenstone team have worked together before and many of them have been working on the project for more than ten years, resulting in a meaningful level of ownership and accountability that I think was integral to the success of the build.

How does owning a mine in Ontario align with Equinox Gold’s growth strategy?

As a Canadian-based company, we are thrilled to have a Canadian mine coming online, and Ontario is one of the world’s best mining jurisdictions. We started Equinox Gold at the end of 2017 with the vision of creating the premier Americas gold producer. With Greenstone operating, our gold production and gold reserves will be divided fairly equally between our four main operating centers of Canada, the US (California), Mexico and Brazil.

In your last interview with GBR, you mentioned the desire to eventually consolidate Greenstone to have 100% ownership over the mine. How does the path forward look in terms of achieving this goal?

The only M&A on our near-term horizon is to increase our ownership of Greenstone, if we can. It will be one of the largest open-pit gold mines in Canada and one of the lowest-cost open-pit gold mines in the world. It is a truly world-class asset and we would love to own all of it.

What are some other exciting growth projects underway at Equinox Gold?

We expect to start portal development for the Aurizona underground expansion later this year. Getting into that higher-grade underground ore will extend the mine life and also increase production. We are advancing permitting for the Castle Mountain expansion in California, which will increase production from around 25,000 oz/y today to more than 200,000 oz/y once it is in production. We are in active dialogue with the communities at our Los Filos mine in Mexico to agree on a development plan that will allow us to make the necessary investments to increase production at that mine to more than 300,000 oz/y. Those are the organic growth projects that are already in our portfolio that, together with Greenstone when it is operating at capacity, will bring an additional approximately 580,000 oz of annual gold production to the company. We will continue to look for opportunities to optimize production and extend the mine life at our other assets.


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