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Aguia outlines reopening plans for Colombia's Santa Barbara mine

Processing equipment at Santa Barbara

Processing equipment at Santa Barbara

7th June 2024

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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ASX-listed Aguia Resources has announced a comprehensive work programme for the reopening of the high-grade Santa Barbara gold mine, in Colombia.

This update follows Aguia's successful takeover of Andean Mining, the 100% owner of Santa Barbara.

"We are pleased to receive such unanimous acceptance of the takeover offer from Andean shareholders," said Aguia chairperson Warwick Grigor. "We are now fully focused on establishing a strong and sustainable cash-generating operation at the high-grade Santa Barbara mine over the next six months."

The Santa Barbara project spans 320 ha in the prolific gold camp at the northern tip of the Serranía de San Lucas, known as the “richest gold belt in Colombia”. Alongside the takeover, Aguia has completed an in-house upgrade study for the mine.

Incoming MD William Howe, who previously led Andean Mining, said the company would accelerate its development strategy for Santa Barbara by commissioning an expanded gold treatment facility and restarting exploration of high-grade structural zones with an estimated cumulative 7 km of strike potential.

The restart programme for Santa Barbara, expected to take six months, includes significant plant improvements. These improvements involve upgrading the plant's capacity to 50 t/d and adding a larger scale crushing circuit with a capacity of 9 t/h to 15 t/h. Additionally, the leaching capacity will be increased by 300%, and new installations will include a Merrill Crowe precipitation circuit and a new gold smelting room. The power generation will also be upgraded with additional generators.

Re-establishing underground mining operations involves recommissioning the Santa Barbara tunnel and establishing a new adit and on-reef development at the Mariana mine. New, larger compressors will be installed to increase underground development and stoping capacity, and cut-and-fill and shrinkage stoping methods will be introduced.

Infrastructure improvements will encompass upgrading accommodation and administration facilities, enhancing access and haul roads, and improving security arrangements.

The previous owners conducted a successful pilot mining and processing operation, treating 500 t of ore over ten months through a pilot plant rated at 30 t/d. This confirmed the continuity of gold-bearing quartz veins, underground mining conditions, and metallurgical recovery.

With the groundwork laid by the pilot operations, Aguia anticipates modest capital expenditure for the recommissioning programme, which is expected to generate significant operating cash flow upon commencement.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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