The site of the Greenstone plant. Equinox said that the project is on track for commercial production in the third quarter of 2024. Courtesy of Equinox Gold.

Equinox Gold Corp. announced that it had poured first gold on May 22 at the Greenstone open-pit mine, near Geraldton, Ontario. The company stated that it had produced 1,800 ounces of gold from the full recovery circuit during its inaugural pour and that all equipment is up and running at what is expected to be Equinox’s flagship mine once it is in full production.  

“This first gold pour represents another key step towards achieving commercial production at the Greenstone mine,” said Greg Smith, president and chief executive officer of Equinox Gold, in a May 23 press release. “We look forward to ramping up to commercial production in the third quarter of this year and delivering sustained value from the Greenstone mine for all our stakeholders.”

In its first five years, Greenstone—which is 100 per cent owned by Equinox—is expected to produce about 400,000 ounces of gold per year, and then average 360,000 ounces of gold annually over the rest of its initial 14-year mine life.

The project is expected to be one of Canada’s largest gold mines. Equinox stated in a September 2023 investor presentation that there is opportunity for expansion of the open-pit mine, in addition to underground potential, which could extend its mine life by several more years. Greenstone is located on the historic site of the Hardrock, Mosher and MacLeod-Cockshutt underground mines, which produced more than two million ounces of gold when mine operations were active from the 1930s until about 1970. The site also has an undeveloped high-grade gold deposit with open-pit and underground potential, which Equinox said is potentially within trucking distance to the Greenstone plant.

The company stated in the investor presentation that the project is on track for a US$1.225 billion spend, and that it had spent US$937 million up to June 2023.

Greenstone was originally developed as a 60/40 joint venture between Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance Group until Equinox announced in April that it had acquired Orion’s stake for US$995 million.