Avino Silver & Gold Mines acquired Bralorne Gold Mines in October of 2014, giving Avino full control and ownership of the Bralorne mine. Avino is implementing a multi-stage, multi-year plan to increase gold resources, expand the mine's operating capacity and realize a much more efficient operation that will contribute significantly to Avino's overall production in the coming years.
The Bralorne gold camp represents one of Canada's most prolific mining operations. From 1928 to 1971, the Bralorne and nearby Pioneer and King mines produced 4.15 million ounces of gold from 7.9 million tons of ore. Average head grades exceeded half-an-ounce per ton.
Historically the operations mined high-grade material delineated by driving drifts on the veins at successively lower levels. Minimal exploration work was conducted beyond the known veins, and the areas between the historical mines were left undeveloped. In recent years, exploration of these undeveloped gaps led to new high-grade discoveries. As a result, the mine was re-furbished and re-opened in its current trial stage.
In 2010, the mine began trial production* at 100 tons per day and has operated at that rate consistently to this date. In 2014, Avino acquired Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd. giving Avino full control and ownership of the Bralorne mine.
On October 21, 2016, Avino announced the results of an updated NI 43-101 resource estimate for the Bralorne property. The resource estimate has been included in an updated NI 43-101 technical report, prepared by Kirkham Geosystems Ltd., which was filed on SEDAR on October 27, 2016.
The following is a summary of current resources at the Bralorne Property, grouped into the measured, indicated, and inferred categories. The effective date of the resource estimates is October 20, 2016. The resource estimates were prepared by Garth Kirkham, P. Geo., who is a "qualified person" within the meaning of National Instrument 43-101, and who is an employee of Kirkham Geosystems Ltd. and independent of Avino, as defined by Section 1.5 of NI 43-101.
Mineral resources which are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The estimate of mineral resources may be materially affected by environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, sociopolitical, marketing, or other relevant issues. The quantity and grade of reported Inferred resources in this estimation are uncertain in nature and there has been insufficient exploration to define these Inferred resources as an Indicated or Measured mineral resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in upgrading them to the Indicated or Measured mineral resource category. Figures in the table may not add to the totals shown due to rounding. The mineral resource estimate is classified in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum's "CIM Definition Standards - For Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves" incorporated by reference into National Instrument 43-101 "Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects". Mineral Resources are reported at cut-off grades 0.1 ounces per ton gold.
During the first quarter of 2017, the Company continued to develop a strategic operating plan to achieve a profitable operation at Bralorne. The mine plan includes changing the mining method to long hole mining, which is considered safer and less labour intensive than previous methods employed, and is expected to support a higher production rate. Engineering is in progress to expand the mill and to upgrade the surface infrastructure for a larger operation. Work in the mill during the quarter was focused on demolishing the old ore and waste bins plus the removal of all of the old crushing equipment to create room for new larger components.
The dam for the Tailings Storage Facility ("TSF") was raised in October 2015, and additional buttress work was completed on the tailing's impoundment during 2016. The Interim Mine Closure Plan ("IMCP") and review process was completed in the first quarter of 2017. The new Water Treatment Plant ("WTP") was enclosed in a new building in late 2016 to protect it from the elements, and is currently in use and performing well during this year's freshet. The work on the TSF, the IMCP, WTP and the strategic operating plan are all necessary to obtain the requisite permits from British Columbia's Ministry of Energy & Mines and Ministry of Environment to resume processing and mining activities. On May 1, 2017, the Company made a deposit of C$500,000 to British Columbia's Ministry of Energy & Mines related to the Company's commitment to reclamation work required to be performed upon the closure of the Bralorne Mine.
In February 2017, Bralorne, in conjunction with North Island College, the B.C. government and First Nations completed a second educational cohort to provide basic mining training for members of the St'at'imc First Nation in Lillooet. Bralorne provided support and access to the mine site for hands-on training. To date, 22 students have graduated from the program, two of whom are now full time employees.
In addition, subsequent to the end of the first quarter, on May 1, 2017, the Company announced that it had signed a non-binding Letter of Intent with St'at'imc Eco-Resources Ltd. ("SER") recognizing the opportunity for collaboration and the establishment of joint ventures to allow the St'át'imc First Nations to economically participate in the development and ongoing operations of the Bralorne Gold Mine project. SER is owned and operated by members of the St'át'imc.
Avino's Bralorne Mine project is under the supervision of Fred Sveinson, B.A., B.Sc., P.Eng, a qualified person ("QP") within the context of National Instrument 43-101. Mr. Sveinson has reviewed and approved all the applicable technical data herein.
*Under National Instrument 43-101, the Company is required to disclose that it has not based its production decisions on NI 43-101-compliant reserve estimates, preliminary economic assessments, or feasibility studies, and historically projects without such reports have increased uncertainty and risk of economic viability. The Company's decision to place a mine into operation at levels intended by management, expand a mine, make other production-related decisions, or otherwise carry out mining and processing operations is largely based on internal non-public Company data, and on reports based on exploration and mining work by the Company and by geologists and engineers engaged by the Company. The results of this work are evident in the Company's discovery of the San Gonzalo resource and the re-opening of the Avino Mine, and in the Company's record of mineral production and financial returns since operations at levels intended by management commenced at the San Gonzalo mine in 2012.