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 second quarter of 2016, the Company continued to develop a strategic operating plan for profitable production at Bralorne. The mine plan includes changing the mining method to long hole mining, which is considered safer and less labour intensive than previous trial methods employed and is expected to support production levels of up to 300 tpd. New mining equipment is being acquired to replace older equipment and to further mechanize for long hole mining. The first work to be carried out underground will be to test the long hole mining method. Engineering is in progress to expand the mill from 100 tpd to 300 tpd. Engineering is also being carried out to upgrade the surface infrastructure for a 300 tpd operation. Expansion work for the mill and infrastructure is expected to start in the latter part of 2016.
The tailings impoundment for the Tailings Storage Facility ("TSF") was raised in October 2015, and additional buttress work is currently being carried out on the impoundment, with completion scheduled for the third quarter of 2016. The Interim Mine Closure Plan ("IMCP") and review process is also expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2016. The work on the TSF, the IMCP and the strategic operating plan is contributing to the Company's goal 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 B.C. government and First Nations completed an 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. 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.