David Wolfin
President & CEO
Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd.
Expert Contributor

Tech Investment Vital for Prosperity of All Shareholders

By David Wolfin | Mon, 09/13/2021 - 15:05

Avino Silver & Gold Mines has been around for over 50 years. During this time, we have had over 36 years of production history from the Avino Mine.

As we move forward in the growth of our company, a commitment to the health and safety of our local communities is always top of mind. 

Our plan is to continue mining for decades to come, and with that plan, comes the responsibility to provide a safe environment for the people of our nearby communities, as well as our workforce.

By improving our technologies now and following safety standards and good practices for our mining operations, including tailings management, we are preparing for the future in a safe and responsible way.

Technology in mining has advanced significantly in recent years, paving the way for increased productivity, recoveries, and throughput. At Avino, we have also increased our level of knowledge and sophistication over time. This can be seen in the progression of the mill circuits in our processing facility.  Over time, we have improved technologically in our mill with Circuit 1 being somewhat rudimentary. Then came the advancements of Circuits 2 and 3, followed by the recently completed Circuit 4, which can be considered state-of-the-art and wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in North America. 

Continuing with the thread of technology enabling more efficient and sophisticated processes, we wanted to evolve how we managed our tailings and be certain we are implementing the best equipment and practices in our operation.

After looking at a variety of different processing methods for our second Tailings Storage Facility (TSF#2), we ultimately pushed forward with a dry stack tailing design as we felt it was the best available technology and made the most sense for both the company and our surrounding community. It is proven technology as several other mining companies in Mexico also employ it for their tailings management.

I asked our Vice President of Technical Services Peter Latta to provide his comments on the dry stack tailings processing: “Tailings management has definitely progressed over the years. Dry stack or filtered tailings is a more costly form of tailings management; however, it can also be a more stable solution. As well, there is the added benefit of more water recovery, recycling more water, so less fresh water is consumed, leaving more well water for community and agricultural uses. The dry stack tailings process consists of feeding larger filter presses thickened tailings. These filter presses squeeze out the maximum amount of moisture from the tailings, leaving only filtered ‘cake.’ This filter cake then drops down to conveyors, which carry the material to TSF#2 to be stacked, flattened and ultimately reclaimed by planting local vegetation on the finished stack. This process minimizes the tailings footprint, maximizes tailings stability and minimizes water use, which are all tremendous benefits.”

The construction of the dry stack tailings facility has created jobs for construction and fabrication workers in Durango and the nearby communities. The company also will require additional personnel to operate, maintain and monitor this process.

As part of our ESG mandate, our goal is to make meaningful contributions to the communities in which we operate by engaging the local workforce, providing new opportunities, and continually looking for ways to better the lives of our employees and their families. We feel that this project will achieve these goals.

Traditionally, we have operated on what we could afford and for many decades, budgets were tight.

During times of financial stability, we have always tried to make improvements at site and reinvest in our operation, which has been well received at the local level.  When we reinvest, we create a strong foundation for growth.

I want Avino to be the most successful mining operation in Durango. Because of our centralized location, maybe we could become the go-to toll milling center. The number of exploration companies is increasing throughout Mexico with many of these properties not having easy access to infrastructure. Having a centralized processing facility could dramatically reduce the time to cash flow for companies with satellite deposits with good resources. Perhaps Avino could fill that roll in the future in addition to processing its own material.

Mining companies must continue to grow to increase the prosperity of all stakeholders. Avino sees mining technology investment as a key pillar supporting that growth and we are excited to see this tailings project develop and, ultimately, go into full operation. 

Photo by:   David Wolfin