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.
During the first quarter of 2016, Bralorne continued to prepare and evaluate a strategic mine plan, including an assessment of more cost effective mining methods and capital expenditures needed to bring the project to a profitable position. The Company has acquired new mining equipment including two new scoop trams and a rock breaker from Sandvik, and a loader from Caterpillar as well as a new medical facility and woman's dry. Further, the Company has ordered a new development jumbo from Sandvik and expects to take delivery in the coming months. This brand new equipment will help to reduce maintenance costs while increasing mining productivity and efficiency when the project resumes operations. Ongoing maintenance and improvements continued in 2015 and the Company has been reviewing the requirements to increase processing capacity should the resources and mine plan prove feasible and viable. A raise to the embankment dam for the tailings storage facility was completed in October 2015 and the Company is currently in the process of obtaining the permits to resume processing and mining activities from British Columbia's Ministry of Energy & Mines and Ministry of Environment.
In February 2016, Bralorne, in conjunction with North Island College, the government and First Nations completed a 4 month long underground mining fundamentals educational cohort for 12 students from St'at'imc First Nation communities around Lillooet. Following three months of classroom instruction, Bralorne provided support and access to the mine site for hands-on training. All 12 students graduated the program with a number of industry certification tickets which will help towards Bralorne's long-term goal of enhancing the local labour force. The Company is maintaining open lines of communication with First Nations communities, and management continues its efforts to build meaningful positive relationships with its stakeholders.
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.