Fura Gems Inc (CVE:FURA) (OTCMKTS:FUGMF) updated investors on Wednesday on its 76%-owned Coscuez emerald mine in Colombia, where operations have begun again with 50% of the workforce.
Since acquiring the mine in early 2018, the firm has undertaken considerable work as it transitions the asset from an artisanal property to a fully mechanised mine.
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From March 20 this year to June 4, the mine has been on care and maintenance due to the coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions. Since June 4, the coronavirus lockdown has been gradually lifted and mining has begun at 50% work-force capacity, with safety and sanitization measures implemented, the firm said.
Also in Wednesday's statement, the group said due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, the inaugural Colombian emerald auction scheduled in Antwerp, Belgium in May was cancelled.
"The work carried out by the Fura team all through 2019 and into early 2020 has shown some extraordinary results," said Dev Shetty, the CEO and President of Fura.
"Most noteworthy is the team turning the operation into a mechanised mine and the introduction of the new, all women washing plant, which has increased the mining and washing capacity," he said.
Fura added it was currently in discussions with the Colombian mining agency, ANM, to extend the Coscuez mining license, which is due to expire on October 9 this year.
The company has obtained approval for the 30 year mine plan but that remains subject to an updated environmental licence and the extension of the mining contract.
The ANM will inform Fura of the next steps required to move forward in the licence extension process, the gemstone firm said.
Among notable milestones at the Coscuez mine last year was a maiden resource, which showed three million tonnes of inferred resources at 2 carats per tonne for 6 million carats at a conservative value of US$200 per carat.
A mine mechanisation program began in August 2019 and was completed in January 2020. The new mining mechanised fleet includes a total of 12 mini-dumpers with four and two tonne capacities, one electrohydraulic jumbo drilling machine, three scoop trams and three tractors.
As of December 2019, the 1.5 kilometer main LAPAZ adit at the mine had also been expanded from 2.65 square meter (sqm) to 5.28 sqm.
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