Canada-based Equinox Gold has temporarily suspended operations at the RDM mine in Brazil due to delays in regulatory approvals for the tailings storage facility (TSF) raise.

The firm said that the RDM operations will be suspended until this matter is addressed.

The company filed for a permit for the TSF raise last year but has not yet received approval.

Equinox said it is in discussions with regulatory authorities over the permit and the TSF raise contractor is ready to start work.

The Canadian company plans to restart full operations at the mine as soon as two months from the receipt of regulatory approval, which is expected during the second quarter of 2022.

The RDM TSF was raised on an intermittent basis to store tailings, which are produced from ongoing operations.

In 2017, the firm filed a design amendment with Supram (the State Environmental Agency – Minas Gerais), to alter from a centreline to a downstream design. Since 2018 each raise has been completed using a downstream design.

The company secured permits to raise the mine’s TSF using a downstream design in 2019 and 2020.

Equinox stated that in 2020, it had sought a raise method formalisation as an addition to the licence to operate, thereby confirming the change to a downstream design.

In early 2021, it received the permit from SUPRAM to raise the TSF to its present level.

Last year, the company applied for permits for the next TSF raise. The firm is due to receive this permit.

Located 560km north of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, the RDM mine covers an area of around 22,600ha. It started production in early 2014.

The RDM mine is estimated to have an average life of mine production of 98,000oz/y of gold over the nine-year mine life.