VANCOUVER, March 23, 2020 /CNW/ - Mako Mining Corp. (TSX-V: MKO; OTCQB: MAKOF) ("Mako" or the "Company") would like to provide an update on proactive changes being made to the San Albino gold project development schedule and the Company's exploration program in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Mako is presently not aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at its operations or the local communities that surround the San Albino gold project. The Company has been on an aggressive schedule to complete construction of the 500 tonnes per day processing plant, ramp up mining operations, and maintain significant infill and greenfield exploration programs. As of yesterday, the Company's employee and contractor workforce was slightly over 400 people. Mako is responsible for providing medical services to all employees and contractors, and by extension the local community, as was the case with all mines built by Mako's team over the years in rural areas. If an infection were to occur in the community, it would greatly strain our ability to provide sufficient care. Therefore, Mako is taking significant steps to lower the risk of infection at our project site and in the local community, including reducing the number of people at our operations to slightly less than 250 people. Additionally, all non-essential travel at the Company was eliminated last month.
Two American expat employees, the General Manager of San Albino and Senior Exploration Manager, have agreed to remain at the project site for the foreseeable future. The Senior Exploration Manager has nearly completed his mandatory 14-day quarantine required for any expat employee travelling to the project site.
All five Mexican expats at the project site have returned home. These professionals were leading the grade control program, which is an essential part of mining gold mineralization. As a result, mining of gold mineralization at San Albino has been suspended. Mining activity has transitioned to earthworks and construction of the tailings storage facility. As the processing plant was not scheduled to begin operating until late summer, the anticipated primary effect on this aspect of the project will be a smaller than previously expected stockpile.
To the extent possible, Mako is reducing the use of non-local contractors to limit the amount of travel to and from the project site. The Company is also engaging with local authorities to ensure the surrounding communities are properly informed of the symptoms of COVID-19 as well as the recommended hygiene regiment necessary to prevent the spread.
Mako is also in the process of doubling the healthcare staff at the project site to alleviate the burden on current staff implementing the new health and safety protocols. The Company has also put in place protocols for isolation and safe transportation to an offsite quarantine area for anyone who is symptomatic or was exposed to an individual with symptoms.
The transport of goods and equipment across the Nicaraguan border has begun to slow down. In anticipation of this, the Company increased the inventory of all consumables at the project site in the weeks leading up to this press release, which has allowed the construction of the processing plant to continue as scheduled, albeit with a smaller workforce.
Prior to the streamlining of staff, the construction of the processing plant and mining were running approximately 60 days ahead of schedule, and slightly under budget. The expectation is that this buffer will be expended as logistics become increasingly difficult to coordinate. To that end, the Company is now expecting first gold pour at San Albino to occur sometime in the fourth quarter.
On the exploration front, active exploration drill rigs are being reduced from four to two, with a commensurate reduction of exploration contractor staff. This reduction will further reduce contact between external contractors and the local community. Considerable progress has been made on resource definition drilling at Las Conchitas since 2019 and there is no plan to stop drilling. Assay results from drilling at the Bayacun Zone within Las Conchitas are scheduled to be released later this week.
With regards to corporate staffing, Mako has always maintained a lean corporate staff and overhead. In fact, the Company has been an early adopter of telecommuting, with the CEO and VP, Corporate Development working primarily from home offices over the past year. Additionally, the Company's two primary offices in Vancouver, BC and Tucson, AZ are subleased with no long-term commitments.
Akiba Leisman, CEO of Mako Mining states, "I want to thank all of our employees and contractors who have acted in a calm and professional manner during these challenging times. The team at Mako is deeply committed to seeing the San Albino project succeed, and we are fortunate to have the human and financial resources available to overcome these challenges. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Nicaragua, the United States and globally as we face this crisis together, but especially with the healthcare workers around the world who are on the front lines."
On behalf of the Board,
Chief Executive Officer
Mako Mining Corp. is a publicly listed gold mining, development and exploration firm. The Company is developing its high-grade San Albino gold project in Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua. Mako's primary objective is to bring San Albino into production quickly and efficiently, while continuing exploration of prospective targets in Nicaragua.
Forward-Looking Statements: Some of the statements contained herein may be considered "forward-looking information" or "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements are characterized by words such as "plan," "expect", "schedule", "target", "believe", "anticipate", "estimate" and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions "may" or "will" occur. Forward-looking information contained herein includes, but is not limited to, information with respect to the Company's strategy, plans and future operations, including with respect to the proactive changes being made to the San Albino gold project development schedule and the Company's exploration program in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic; the great strain that would be caused on the Company's ability to provide sufficient medical care if an infection were to occur in the local community; the significant steps Mako is taking to lower the risk of infection at the San Albino project site and in the local community, including by reducing the number of people at our operations to slightly less than 250 people and eliminating all non-essential travel at the Company; the anticipated primary effect of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the commencement the processing plant operations being a smaller than previously anticipated stockpile; Mako's use of non-local contractors to limit the amount of travel to and from the project site; the Company's engagement with local authorities to ensure the surrounding communities are properly informed of the symptoms of COVID-19, as well the recommended hygiene regiment and travel limits to prevent the spread of the virus; Mako's efforts to double the number of healthcare staff at the project site to alleviate the burden on current healthcare staff in implementing the new safety protocols; the Company's expectation that the 60-day buffer built into the mining schedule since construction commenced will be expended as logistics become increasingly difficult to coordinate; the Company not foreseeing a major delay to the commissioning of the processing plant, barring a deterioration of the situation; the Company's plans to continue drilling at Las Conchitas; and the expectation that assay results from drilling at the Bayacun Zone within Los Conchitas will be released later this week. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions, assumptions and estimates of management considered reasonable at the date the statements are made, and are inherently subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other known and unknown factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those stated in the forward-looking statements. These factors could include the Company learning of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the San Albino site or in the local community and not being successful in providing sufficient medical care; the Company's significant steps to lower the risk of infection at site and in the local community, as discussed herein, not being successful; Mako failing in being able to reduce the burden on current healthcare staff; the situation deteriorating and there being an unforeseen delay in the commissioning of the processing plant; the Company being unable to continue drilling at Las Conchitas and the assay results from drilling at the Bayacun Zone being delayed. Any forward-looking information contained herein is included for the purposes of providing investors with the Company's current plans and expectations at its San Albino project and the Las Conchitas area as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and may not be appropriate for other purposes.
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
SOURCE Mako Mining Corp.
For further information: Mako Mining Corp., Akiba Leisman, Chief Executive Officer, Telephone: 203-862-7059, E-mail: [email protected] or visit our website at www.makominingcorp.com and SEDAR www.sedar.com