Equinox expects to receive regulatory approval for its tailings dam raise by Q2 2022. Courtesy of Equinox Gold.

Equinox Gold announced on May 16 that operations at its RDM mine in Brazil have been temporarily suspended following a permits delay for a scheduled raise of its tailings storage facility (TSF). 

The company says it is in talks with regulatory authorities and expects operations to resume two months after receiving the permits. Regulatory approval is anticipated at some point during Q2 of this year.

The TSF at the mine was designed to be raised on an intermittent basis throughout the mine life to keep making room for tailings as operations proceed. Equinox Gold claims that it was designed and is operating in accordance with industry best practices, and that it is regularly inspected and audited. Since 2018, raises of the TSF have been completed using a downstream design. The previous raises were granted permits in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

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The suspension of operations at RDM comes on the heels of a previous suspension from late February to early March due to high levels of rainfall, precipitating a Q1 loss from operations of $1.3 million.

The mine’s production guidance forecast of 70,000 to 80,000 ounces of gold for 2022, which would have accounted for an estimated 11 per cent of Equinox Gold’s production this year, no longer stands. The guidance will be updated by the company once production has restarted at RDM. The TSF raise contractor is ready to mobilize and get to work once approbation is received, according to Equinox Gold. 

RDM is a conventional open-pit mine that began production in 2014. Its mine life is estimated at approximately nine years and its proven and probable reserves are estimated at 556 thousand ounces from 17.5 million tonnes grading at 0.99 grams per tonne.