Ausenco Engineering Canada has completed construction of the Las Chispas processing plant, in Mexico, and handed it over to SilverCrest Metals, the Canada-based precious metals company reported on Thursday.
Other construction activities handled directly by SilverCrest, including road, bridge, dry stack tailings facility, temporary diesel power plant and assay lab, have also been completed.
Processing plant commissioning was now under way with the plant expected to reach commercial production in the fourth quarter, SilverCrest said.
Given the extensive amount of underground development completed to date, there is a significant amount of stockpiled ore on surface to allow for a more measured ramp-up of underground mining over the first few years of production and increased operational flexibility. The feasibility study outlined a plan in which the process plant will not be fed exclusively from underground mined material until 2025.
Operations are currently being powered by both the diesel generators and the partially completed power line, which collectively is providing all the Las Chispas power requirements.
SilverCrest anticipates fully transitioning away from the diesel generators in the second half of 2022 as Mexico’s power authority finalises its portion of the power line.
While the final capital costs incurred remain to be settled, the capital cost of the Las Chispas project is anticipated to be below the $137.7-million budget estimated in the feasibility study.
“Completing construction marks a significant de-risking step as we move towards becoming a high-grade precious metal producer. With our skilled and experienced team in place, we are well-positioned to work through commissioning and ramp-up to achieve commercial production in the fourth quarter. While doing so, we will continue with exploration, advancing ongoing projects in the nearby communities, and looking at ways to add further value for our shareholders,” said CEO Eric Fier.