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fter years of planning and development, the end is in sight for the Magino gold project, which Toronto-listed Argonaut Gold is building near Dubreuilville, Ontario.

The first gold pour at the mine is only weeks away and commercial production is targeted for the third quarter.

“Major components critical to commissioning Magino’s mill are coming together as we prepare for first gold pour, which is now expected during the second half of May, which is marginally behind the May 15 target date,” said COO Marc Leduc on Friday.

By March 31, Argonaut had incurred about $652-million of the $755-million (C$980-million) estimate at completion.

Leduc noted that the project’s capital costs remained unchanged from its year-end update.

The only operational areas behind schedule, he said, was mining rates and manpower build up, with the sourcing of labour remaining a challenge.

Argonaut CEO Richard Young added that Magino had the potential to be one of the biggest and lowest-cost gold mines in Canada.

“To achieve that goal, we are embarking on a 12- to 15-month drill programme, leveraging off the 2022 drill programme that significantly increased our openpit resource base. A portion of the drill programme is designed to convert openpit resources to reserves to determine the optimal processing rates for the mine based on an expected larger reserve base. The balance of the programme will test the high-grade deep potential, as well as the potential west along strike,” said Young.

Meanwhile, the company produced 38 585 gold-equivalent ounces in the first quarter, which was 30% below that of a year earlier, owing to lower ore tonnes mined and lower grades placed on the leach pads at its three Mexican operations, as part of the wind down of those operations.

All-in sustaining costs of $1 957/oz were higher than the prior-year period, but largely in line with the 2023 guidance. With the planned first gold pour of Magino, costs should be in line with the 2023 guidance.

Revenue of $69-million was 35% lower than $105.8-million from the first quarter of 2022, owing to lower planned production from the company’s three Mexican mines – El Castillo, La Colorada and San Agustin. El Castillo ceased mining activities in the fourth quarter of 2022 and is now in residual leaching and reclamation.