SilverCrest Metals announced that the construction and commissioning of the Las Chispas processing plant has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget, despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic. In addition, the company announced that it will continue its exploration program to identify new opportunities in the region.
This week, SilverCrest announced that Ausenco Engineering Canadas has completed its construction work. The company noted that other key constructions such as roads, bridges, tailings facilities, a diesel power plant and a testing laboratory were also finished. Additionally, the company announced the start-up of the processing plant, which is expected to reach commercial production in 4Q22.
SilverCrest explained that operations are currently powered by diesel generators and an unfinished 33Kv power line. However, it expects to base its power production solely on the power line in 2H22, when CFE completes its construction. In a previous statement, the company explained that the powerline is 81km long, of which 27km is directly owned and operated by CFE. At that time, CFE's portion of the line was 23 percent complete and was expected to be operational in 2Q22.
Furthermore, the company explained that the construction of the processing plant was affected by the spread of COVID-19’s Omicron variant, which infected many construction workers. Silvercrest emphasized that despite the challenges, its construction was completed ahead of schedule. The company said the final capital costs for the Las Chispas project are still expected to be defined. However, it expects them to be below the previously estimated budget of US$137.7 million.
“We are extremely proud to achieve this key milestone, ahead of schedule and under budget. I commend all who have been involved in the project to date and thank our stakeholders, including local communities, for their continued support. Completing construction marks a significant de-risking step as we move towards becoming a high-grade precious metal producer,” said Eric Fier, CEO, SilverCrest.
In addition, the company highlighted the opportunity to increase underground mining and operational flexibility during the early years of production, as there is a significant amount of ore stored just below the surface. SilverCrest highlighted that it will seek to expand the project and identify new opportunities through its exploration programs.
Likewise, Pierre Beaudoin, COO, SilverCrest, announced that the company has inaugurated the new testing laboratory in the community of Arizpe, Sonora. The laboratory is expected to create jobs and maintain them after the project reaches the end of its life cycle.