Avion Gold Corporation is pleased to provide an operational and exploration update and define some key milestones for 2011.
– 2011 Gold Production estimated at 100,000 ounces;
– Tabakoto underground commenced producing initial development ore, with
full production at Tabakoto expected in Q1, 2012;
– Segala Main underground portal expected to commence in 2011 with full
production expected in Q2, 2012;
– 4,000 tonnes per day SAG mill delivery scheduled for Q4, 2011 with
completion of 100% capacity upgrade in late Q1, 2012;
– Initial Reserve statement for the Tabakoto Project expected in the
beginning of Q2, 2011;
– Step-out and in-fill drilling ongoing at Vindaloo Zone, Hounde Project,
with mineralization now traced for 1,200 metres, double the strike
length of the zone that was tested when the initial resource was
calculated. Zone is still open; and
– Drilling is planned at Avion’s Kofi property to test a recent, new zone
intercept of 83.7 metres grading 3.58 g/t Au.
John Begeman, Avion’s President and Chief Executive Officer stated: “Avion is at an exceptional point in its evolution with profitable gold mining at Tabakoto, a planned 100% throughput expansion and abundant high quality exploration targets. We are pleased to be in a position to deliver shareholder value through production and exploration and anticipate a tremendous year of growth.”
Gold production for the year is estimated at 100,000 ounces. Mill feed plans for 2011 include open pit mining at the Dioulafoundou deposit, underground development ore from the Tabakoto deposit and stockpile reclamation of ore from the Segala open pit that was mined out in 2010. A small open pit located immediately south of the Tabakoto open pit, named the Tabakoto South pit, is also being mined to ensure an alternative source of mill feed. Underground development of the Tabakoto deposit has progressed to the point where the first cross-cut into the NE1 mineralized structure has commenced with initial delivery of development ore to the mill started.
Underground development of the Segala deposit continues to progress as planned, with surface infrastructure nearing completion to enable the start of a portal near the bottom of the open pit in Q2, 2011.
Gold production is estimated at approximately 22,000 ounces during the first quarter of 2011, increasing to 27,000 ounces in the fourth quarter as the amount of development ore from Tabakoto underground increases.
The doubling of process plant capacity remains on budget and on schedule for completion in Q1, 2012. As stated in its news release on January 5, 2011, Avion has ordered a SAG mill from Polysius Corporation and expects delivery at site in Q4, 2011. The Company is working with its EPCM contractor, GENIVAR Limited Partnership, to place orders for all of the equipment required to double plant capacity. A team of GENIVAR engineers is currently on site in Mali organizing civil and mechanical contractors to prepare for construction.
Avion is working towards providing its initial reserve statement with a guided completion in early Q2, 2011. Current open pit and underground Measured and Indicated mineral resources will be incorporated into the reserve model as well as new drill data expected from the Tabakoto NW1, Tabakoto NW2 and Djambaye II zones.
Open Pit Mining Equipment
Avion has purchased its own open pit mining equipment to decrease its reliance on contractors and in turn expects to lower open pit mining costs and increase equipment availability. The first batch of machines is expected on site by the end of the month, with a full fleet on site by April.
AVION EXPLORATION UPDATE FOR 2011
INITIAL EXPLORATION BUDGET – $10 MILLION 60,000 METRES
Avion has commenced a minimum US$ 10 million, approximately 60,000 metre, drill-focused exploration program at its Tabakoto, Hounde and Kofi Projects.
TABAKOTO PROJECT – MALI
NEW TARGETS TO BE TESTED COMBINED WITH RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
A core drill has started at the Tabakoto project with a focus on the high grade cross-structures below and proximal to the Tabakoto Pit. A second drill (RC rig) is scheduled to arrive soon. This rig will focus on the Djambaye II zone with a goal to develop additional open pit Measured and Indicated resources and to test numerous cross-structure targets that have been developed on the property.
HOUNDE PROJECT – BURKINA FASO
VINDALOO ZONE STRIKE LENGTH NOW AT 1.2 KM AND OPEN
Avion plans to test four major target areas that have been developed on the Hounde Property with at least 15,000 metres of drilling. Drilling has commenced at the Vindaloo zone (883,000 tonnes Indicated Mineral Resources at 2.23 g/t Au totaling 63,000 ounces and 5,725,000 tonnes Inferred Mineral Resources at 2.97 g/t Au totaling 547,000 ounces) with a core drill testing for extensions of the Vindaloo zone both to the north and south, along strike, and the RC drill doing in-fill holes at 50 metre centers. Current drilling has doubled the strike length of the Vindaloo zone from the initial resource estimate area of approximate 600 metres of strike (from Avion drilling). Geophysical data (IP chargeability), soil sample data and artisanal activity, suggest the Vindaloo mineralized trend may be up to 3.5 kilometres long. Five additional, parallel, geophysical (IP) and artisanal targets lie both east and west of the Vindaloo trend; limited drill testing of three of the five targets has returned good gold values in all holes with a best intercept of 2.53 g/t Au over 18.3 metres (Madras Zone). IP geophysical surveys are also being carried out over the Kari Pomp area, located approximately 10 km to the west where drilling returned numerous gold-bearing intercepts with one hole returning 31.59 g/t Au over 5.5 metres. Follow-up drill holes and IP surveys are planned at Bouere (3.84 g/t Au over 47.6 metres) and Grand Espoir (0.55 g/t Au over 33.7 metres), new target areas located approximately 14.0 and 16.8 kilometres northwest of the Vindaloo zone, respectively.
KOFI PROJECT – MALI
2011 DRILLING TO FOLLOW UP ON NEW ZONE INTERCEPT OF 84 METRES OF 3.58 G/T AU
An approximate 15,000 metre drill program is scheduled to commence at the Kofi property in April. Avion’s management is extremely pleased with the initial drill program results from the Q4, 2010 drill program which returned extensions of the known zones with intercepts to 6.05 g/t Au over 27.0 metres and the discovery of a new, open zone of mineralization that returned 3.58 g/t Au over 83.7 metres (hole C-10-006).
Don Dudek, Avion’s Senior Vice President, Exploration, stated: “Most of the known mineralized zones are open-ended with numerous model-driven drill targets developed at Tabakoto and its two exploration projects, Hounde and Kofi. Recent site visits at Randgold’s Loulo and Gounkoto projects and Semafo’s Mana Project demonstrated, in management’s opinion, how similar the character of the mineralized zones on the Avion Properties are to these prolific camps and further drives home the value of Avion’s Kofi and Hounde Projects. As we test the known zones and build internal capacity, management believes that it is reasonable to think that Avion will be able to justify an increase in the 2011 exploration budget beyond its initial budgeted program.”