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Aya Gold & Silver Successfully Concludes Third Drawdown for Zgounder Mine Expansion Funding

Aya Gold & Silver Inc. announced that the third drawdown, totaling $25 million, has been completed on its $100 million project financing facility for the expansion of the Zgounder Silver Mine in the Kingdom of Morocco. The Facility is jointly provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“EBRD”) and by the Climate Investment Funds through its Clean Technology Fund (“CTF”). All figures are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Expansion Highlights 

Supported by

Overall construction approximately 83% complete and on budget

The Zgounder expansion is fully funded and on track for commissioning in Q2-2024

Third facility drawdown of $25 million completed in February 2024 with $85 million disbursed to date

Tailings and water storage facilities complete

Installation of ball mill scheduled for completion at the end of March

Processing plant approximately 77% complete

Electrical infrastructure is 85% completed

Underground development of 8,712 meters (“m”) completed, 92% of the initial lateral development program

Approximately 80% of vertical development completed

Mining at the open pit ongoing with more than 110,000 tonnes (“t”) stockpiled

“With construction well advanced and operation activities ramping up to peak activity levels, we are extremely proud of Zgounder’s disciplined transformation to date. Our recent drawdown speaks to our ability to systematically meet extensive obligations and de-risk the development and construction of our expansion, which remains on track and on budget for commercial production by Q4-2024. We also delivered on our initial TCFD disclosure requirement, which reduces our cost of capital by 25% on our CTF tranche. Expansion of Zgounder is fully funded, on budget, and on schedule to deliver value to all stakeholders for many years,” said Benoit La Salle, President and CEO.

Mining & Mine Development

In 2023, the underground mine access infrastructure was successfully advanced in accordance with plan.

The underground access ramp has advanced several kilometers from the portal; and now connects all the historical levels of the mine with the newly developed levels (1,950m and 1,925m levels). The underground contractors have been advancing both lateral and vertical development at rates in line with the projected plan. Ground conditions are as expected and water inflow, to date, has been negligible.

Construction of both surface and underground mine infrastructures, including workshops, warehouses, backfill station, and the electrical sub-station remain on schedule.

Mining production has continued to ramp up as planned, averaging 1,964 tonnes per day in Q4-2023. A total of 291,000t had been stockpiled at the end of January 2024 for commissioning of the new mill.

Processing Plant

Plant civil and concrete works are 97% complete with only minor work remaining.

The cyanidation tanks have been erected. The assembly of structural steel is progressing well. The steel structure for the silver refinery has been fully assembled, and installation of the Merrill Crowe equipment is ongoing. Assembly of the conveyors is ongoing, and most plant equipment has been placed into position. The ball mill installation is ongoing under the manufacturer’s supervision, for expected completion in March.

The engineering, procurement and construction (“EPC”) contractor has completed all necessary procurement, and all outstanding items are in transit. The last mechanical equipment and electrical and piping material are expected to be delivered to site in Q1-2024, and installation to be completed by early Q2-2024.


Construction of the new assay laboratory is 61% complete, and its commissioning is planned in Q2-2024. Construction of the electrical power substation, pylons and 60-kV powerline is advancing towards planned operationalization by the end of Q1-2024.

The region’s yearly rainfall has begun. Water captured by the mine’s dams is being pumped to the recently completed water storage basins for commissioning. Over 300,000m³ of water storage capacity has been built, sufficient to sustain operations during the dry season.

Operational Readiness

The operations team continues to advance preparations to begin planned commissioning in Q2-2024. The recruitment of senior technical and operational personnel has commenced.

Intensive training of Zgounder’s mine rescue teams is ongoing, and they are expected to be fully operational in H2-2024. Furthermore, the environmental and community teams are maintaining the Corporation’s commitments to local authorities, community members, and external stakeholders through increased engagement and reporting.

Financing Update

The Corporation has drawn an additional $25 million of its facility for a total of $85 million. This follows a January technical site visit by the lenders and their technical advisor, including a specific visit of Zgounder tailings facilities. Proceeds of the third drawdown will be used to further advance the Zgounder Mine expansion project. A final drawdown of the facility is expected in H1-2024 as the project progresses.

At year-end 2023, the Corporation successfully completed milestone 1 of the CTF tranche of the loan resulting in a 25% reduction in the interest rate of the CTF tranche. The remaining two milestones are expected to be reached during 2024.


Source: finance yahoo

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