Argonaut Gold Announces Q2 Production of 30,310 Au-Eq Oz

Toronto, Ontario – (July 15, 2014) Argonaut Gold Inc. (“Argonaut”, “Argonaut Gold” or the “Company”; TSX: AR), announced today that the Company had production of 30,310 gold equivalent ounces (“GEOs”) during the second quarter ended June 30, 2014 (“Q2”). This included 21,359 GEOs at its 100% owned El Castillo Mine (“El Castillo”) located in Durango, Mexico and 8,951 GEOs at its 100% owned La Colorada Mine (“La Colorada”) located near Hermosillo, Mexico.

 
2nd Quarter
Change
2014
2013
Total Gold Equivalent Ounce Production:
 GEOs loaded to the pads1
53,003
42,965
↑23%
 GEOs projected recoverable ounces1,2
31,849
25,344
↑26%
 GEOs produced ounces1
30,310
34,572
↓12%
 GEOs ounces sold1
31,723
32,424
↓2%

1 GEOs are based on conversion ratio of 55:1 for silver to gold and is the referenced ratio throughout the release.

2 Recoverable ounces – see tables titled Second Quarter 2014 El Castillo Operating Statistics and Second Quarter 2014 La Colorada Operating Statistics

SECOND QUARTER 2014 HIGHLIGHTS:

El Castillo

  • GEO production of 21,359 ounces consisting of 21,041 gold ounces and 17,474 silver ounces (GEOs at 55:1 conversion rate).
  • 37,352 gold ounces loaded on the leach pads equating to 21,424 projected recoverable gold ounces.
  • Mining:
    • The daily mining rate for the quarter increased from 87 thousand tonnes per day (“ktpd”) in the first quarter to 91 ktpd in the second quarter, an increase of 5% quarter over quarter (24% year over year).  The mine plan incorporated mostly oxidized ore, increasing from 75% to 87% of total ore to the pads for the second quarter over the first quarter. This should result in improved recoveries in the coming quarter.
    • Strip ratio increased to 1.2:1 which is consistent with mine plan expectations.
  • Crushing and conveying:
    • West crusher conveyor moved a record 1,468,000 tonnes to the pads.
    • East crusher conveyor moved a record 1,615,000 tonnes to the pads.
  • West side pad expansion continues ahead of schedule.
    • Cell 2a was completed in May and over liner placement is nearly complete, well ahead of schedule.
    • Cell 3b the rock fill was completed in June and the cell construction will be finalized in the third quarter, which is also ahead of schedule.

La Colorada

  • GEO production of 8,951 ounces, consisting of 8,420 gold ounces and 29,224 silver ounces (GEOs at 55:1 conversion rate).
  • 15,651 gold ounces and 189,621 silver ounces loaded on the pad; equating to 10,425 projected recoverable GEOs to leach pad.
  • We are ahead on stripping for the year.  The strip ratio for the quarter of 4.49 fell in comparison to 7.22 realized during the first quarter, as ore shipments to the crusher increased.
  • Record 880,000 tonnes of crushed ore was loaded to the leach pad which is an increase of 182% year over year.  A new level of 10 ktpd of crushed ore to the pads has now been established.  Since Q1 of this year we have achieved nearly a 40% improvement in crushing.
  • An additional tertiary crusher was added to the crushing circuit and commissioned at the beginning of July in an effort to further increase crushing capacity.

Magino

  • The Richmont surface and mining rights expansion agreement was finalized. A budget and exploration plan for this property will be developed.
  • We have identified additional material for further heap leach column test work to be performed, and will begin this metallurgical test work in Q3.
  • We continue to advance the permitting studies on the project.

San Antonio

  • The Company continues to work on a dual permitting path; plans include pursuing a mutually beneficial project for all stakeholders by simultaneously pursuing the legal path to obtaining permits as well as working with local and federal agencies and officials.

San Agustín

  • The Phase I drill program of 22,114 metres has been completed to date including 21,115 metres of reverse circulation (“RC”) in 217 drill holes and 999 metres of PQ core in 13 drill holes.
  • Initiated Phase II drill program, completing 1,750 of 13,000 metres to date.
  • Metallurgical test work continues with column tests being run by independent laboratory Kappes, Cassiday & Associates in Reno, Nevada and bulk run of mine column tests at El Castillo.
  • Argonaut Gold purchased Geologix Resources claims for the Nuestra Senora del Carmen II property, and has an agreement to acquire the Consejo 1 title.
    • These concessions total 489 hectares immediately to the west and east of the current drill program for the Company.
  • A cash payment of $10M was made to Silver Standard Resources Inc. (“Silver Standard”), as well as a $1.6M VAT payment to the government of Mexico on this transaction.

CEO Commentary
Pete Dougherty, President and CEO for Argonaut Gold said “Operationally we have achieved marked improvement quarter over quarter in our mining and processing. These operational improvements will lead to production increases in the 2nd half of the year as we see mining capacity and gold recovery increasing.

At El Castillo, we are ahead with our heap leach pad construction. At La Colorada, we have commissioned the new secondary cone crusher and installed a fourth tertiary cone crusher which should further improve crushing production.  We anticipate further production gains to be achieved in the second half of the year through these capital investments.

On the exploration front, we are pleased with the initial drilling results from the newly acquired San Agustin project.  We have expanded our mineral concessions further with the purchase of the Nuestra Senora del Carmen II and the Consejo 1 title.

We continue to work toward permitting at both San Antonio and Magino.  At Magino, we announced positive heap leach column results which have prompted further test work which will begin in Q3.  At the San Antonio project, we are seeking an approach to move this project forward as it represents significant value to all stakeholders.

With steady improvement at the operations through the first half of the year, we anticipate a strong second half of the year as outlined in January.

The Company continues to advance all of our projects as we work to build up our production profile to join the ranks of the intermediate gold producers. We are excited by the process improvements, our operating team’s ability to set new mining and processing records and our exploration group’s positive drill results to date. We are looking forward to a strong second half of the year.”

SECOND QUARTER 2014 EL CASTILLO OPERATING STATISTICS

3 Months Ended March 31
6 Months Ended June 30
 
2014
2013
% Change
2014
2013
% Change
Mining
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tonnes ore (000s)
3,767
3,278
↑15%
7,433
6,450
↑15%
Tonnes waste (000s)
4,524
3,418
↑32%
8,688
6,431
↑35%
Tonnes mined (000s)
8,291
6,695
↑24%
16,120
12,882
↑25%
Tonnes per day (000s)
91
74
↑24%
89
71
↑25%
Waste/ore ratio
1.20
1.04
↑15%
1.17
1.00
↑17%
Heap Leach Pad
Tonnes ore direct to leach pad (000s)
683
1,710
↓60%
1,506
3,440
↓56%
Tonnes crushed (000s)
1,616
1,565
↑3%
3,113
2,996
↑4%
Tonnes overland conveyor (000s)
1,468
NA
↑100%
2,814
N/A
↑100%
Production
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gold grade (g/t)1
0.31
0.38
↓19%
0.32
0.37
↓ 12%
Gold loaded to leach pad (oz)2
37,352
40,169
↓7%
77,276
76,192
↑1%
Projected recoverable gold ounces (oz)3
21,424
23,403
↓8%
43,702
44,937
↓3%
Gold produced (oz)
21,041
28,075
↓25%
43,017
51,200
↓16 %
Gold sold (oz)
22,292
26,705
↓17%
43,198
46,214
↓7 %
1 “g/t” is grams per tonne
2 “oz” means troy ounce
3 Recovery rates: ROM oxide 50%, crushed oxide 70%, ROM transition 40%, crushed transition 60%, crushed sulfides argilic 30%, crushed sulfides silicic 17%.

Richard Rhoades, Chief Operating Officer for the Company, said, “At El Castillo, operations continued to increase productivity in the mining and crushing/conveying areas. The mining fleet moved more than 91 thousand tonnes of material per day, a new production record. Both the west and east crushing/conveying systems set records for throughput. As anticipated, we have experienced seen a higher strip ratio for the 1st half of 2013, which peaked in the second quarter at 1.2. The strip ratio is expected to decline to 1.0 by the 4th quarter. The percentage of transition ore (which has lower leach recoveries) continued to decrease, accounting for only 13% of the total ore placed on the pad during the quarter.

The progress to date on the heap leach pad construction is well ahead of schedule, which will allow the mining operations to increase placements during the second half of the year.”

SECOND QUARTER 2014 LA COLORADA OPERATING STATISTICS

3 Months Ended March 31
6 Months Ended June 30
 
2014
2013
% Change
2014
2013
% Change
Mining            
Tonnes ore (000s)
700
342
↑105%
1,260
898
↑40%
Tonnes waste (000s)
3,145
3,802
↓17%
7,188
7,600
↓5%
Total tonnes (000s)
3,845
4,143
↓7%
8,488
8,499
↓1%
Waste/ore ratio
4.49
11.12
↓60%
5.70
8.46
↓33%
Tonnes rehandled (000s)
245
0
↑100%
315
0
↑100%
Heap Leach Pad
Tonnes ore direct to leach pad (000s)
880
312
↑182%
1,515
715
↑112%
Production
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gold grade mined (g/t)1
0.68
0.28
↑141%
0.63
0.29
↑119%
Gold loaded to leach pad (oz)2
15,651
2,796
↑460%
26,463
6,559
↑303%
Projected recoverable GEOs loaded (oz)3
10,425
1,941
↑437%
17,473
4,584
↑281%
Gold produced (oz)
8,420
5,511
↑53%
15,983
11,293
↑42%
Silver produced (oz)
29,224
45,318
↓36%
96,803
90,197
↑7%
GE0s produced (oz)
8,951
6,335
↑41%
17,743
12,933
↑37%
Gold sold (oz)
8,530
5,051
↑69%
16,263
10,983
↑48%
Silver sold (oz)
32,083
27,801
↑15%
105,294
82,070
↑28%
GEOs sold
9,113
5,556
↑64%
18,177
12,475
↑46%
1 “g/t” is grams per tonne
2 “oz” means troy ounce
3 Recovery rates:  Gold 60% and Silver 30%
4 GEOs based on conversion ratio of 55:1 for silver to gold

Richard Rhoades said “At La Colorada, the mine grades continue to improve averaging 0.68 g/t during the second quarter. We have added to the tertiary crushing capacity, with throughput improving by nearly 40% over Q1. We have begun reprocessing an old heap leach pad, which should result in lower operating cost.  We are now in a position to achieve greater production increases in the second half of the year.”

Exploration at San Agustín
The majority of the Company’s 2014 exploration budget is focused on the recently acquired San Agustín project, located 10 kilometres southwest of El Castillo. The two deposits lie on the same regional mineral trend and are geologically very similar.

Argonaut Gold has now completed Phase I of the two phase drilling program. Phase I drilling consisted of more than 22,000 metres at San Agustín. RC drilling includes 21,115 metres in 217 holes; PQ core drilling includes nearly 1,000 metres in 13 holes. The results from this Phase I drilling will be incorporated into a current resource and then followed up with a preliminary economic assessment anticipated by the end of the year.

Drill Summary

Phase I
Phase II
RC
CORE
RC + CORE
RC
CORE
RC + CORE
Completed Drill Holes
217
13
230
10
10
Completed Metres
21,115
999
22,114
1,750
1,750

Tom Burkhart, Vice President of Exploration for the Company, said “When Argonaut acquired the San Agustin project there was an historic resource and potential to fill-in and expand the known zone of mineralization.  The Company completed a tight spaced Phase I drill program in what was termed the Main Zone of the deposit in order to report a new resource from this area in Q3 of this year. The required drilling for this was accomplished ahead of schedule and under budget.  Our work combined with earlier drilling has established mineral continuity in the Main Zone.   We also conducted additional wide space drilling which we believe supports our assumption that the San Agustin mineral system has the potential to grow.

The wide spaced drill holes outside the Main Zone drilling primarily focused on testing the potential to the northwest.  Drilling to date has yielded positive results and indicates the San Agustin mineral system remains open. Our next Phase of drilling will consist of approximately 13,000 metres, and is designed to establish the broader limits of the mineral system.  This is an exciting project and our Mexican exploration team is doing a fantastic job moving this project forward.”

The Phase II RC drill program has begun on exploration ground for which the Company has received exploration permits. As additional exploration permits are received, the budget and scope of this drilling will be evaluated.

Significant drill hole results from the Main Zone
Drill Hole Number
From
(metres)
To
(metres)
Thickness
(metres)
Gold Grade
(g/t)
Silver Grade
(g/t)
Mineral Type
14-SAGRC-122
7.62
64.01
56.39
0.35
25.7
Oxide
14-SAGRC-134
0.00
51.82
51.82
0.29
11.2
Oxide
14-SAGRC-163
0.00
38.10
38.10
0.49
13.9
Oxide
14-SAGRC-199
0.00
70.10
70.10
0.33
1.7
Oxide
14-SAGRC-201
0.00
39.62
39.62
0.64
2.0
Oxide
14-SAGRC-212
0.00
42.67
42.67
0.49
4.4
Oxide
14-SAGRC-213
0.00
82.30
82.30
0.32
3.7
Oxide
14-SAGRC-217
0.00
39.62
39.62
0.45
6.4
Oxide
14-SAGRC-219
12.19
74.68
62.48
0.33
12.7
Oxide

 

Select extension drill hole results to the Northwest
Drill Hole Number
From
(metres)
To
(metres)
Thickness
(metres)
Gold Grade
(g/t)
Silver Grade
(g/t)
Mineral Type
14-SAGRC-135
19.81
21.34
1.52
29.20
1.0
Oxide
14-SAGRC-157
59.44
67.06
7.62
3.17
84.4
Oxide
14-SAGRC-196
36.58
41.15
4.57
10.68
44.6
Oxide
14-SAGRC-198
76.20
91.44
15.24
1.05
16.9
Oxide
14-SAGRC-229
36.58
38.10
1.52
15.80
3.2
Oxide

The majority of drilling is oriented to cross the mineral system as close as possible to determine true widths. However, the Company cannot assure that all the reported intervals represent the true widths of the mineral system.

Complete results from the drilling campaign are posted on the Company’s website at www.argonautgold.com.

2014, Phase I grade thickness drill hole map

2014, Phase I &II drill hole map

Argonaut Gold Q2 Financial Results Conference Call and Webcast:
The Q2 financial results call is scheduled to take place on August 14, 2014 at 8:30 am EDT.

Q2 Conference Call Information
    Toll Free (North America):
1-877-223-4471
    International:
1-647-788-4922
    Conference ID:
67705385
    Webcast:
www.argonautgold.com
Q2 Conference Call Replay:
    Toll Free Replay Call (North America):
1-416-621-4642
    International Replay Call:
1-800-585-8367

The conference call replay will be available from 11:30 am EDT on August 15, 2014 until August 29, 2014.

Technical Information and Mineral Properties Reports
The technical information contained in this document has been prepared under supervision of, and reviewed and approved by Mr. Thomas H. Burkhart, Argonaut’s Vice President of Exploration, and a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101. For further information on the Company’s properties please see the reports as listed below on the Company’s website or on www.sedar.com:

El Castillo Mine NI 43-101 Technical Report on Resources and Reserves, Argonaut Gold Inc., El Castillo Mine, Durango State, Mexico dated February 24, 2011
La Colorada Mine NI 43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment La Colorada Project, Sonora, Mexico dated December 30, 2011
Magino Gold Project NI 43-101 Technical Report and Mineral Resource Estimate on the Magino Gold Project, Ontario, Toronto, Canada dated January 30, 2014
San Antonio Gold Project NI 43-101 Technical Report and Mineral Resource Estimate on the San Antonio Gold Project, Baja California Sur, Mexico dated October 10, 2012

The San Agustín project is not a material property of Argonaut.  For further information on the San Agustín project, please see the historic estimates disclosed in the technical report titled “San Agustín Resource Estimate” dated March 2009 and available under the profile of Silver Standard at www.sedar.com. Per Silver Standard, the historic mineral reserves estimate was completed by Gilles Arseneau, Ph.D., P.Geo, a Qualified Person, pursuant to NI 43-101, in a technical report completed by Wardrop, a TetraTech company, entitled “San Agustín Resources Estimate” dated March, 2009.  The report was reviewed by Thomas Burkhart on behalf of Argonaut Gold, who has concluded that it continues to be relevant and reliable as a basis for understanding the potential resources at the property. To the best of Argonaut Gold’s knowledge, information and belief, there is no new material, scientific or technical information that would make the disclosure of the mineral resources inaccurate or misleading. Argonaut Gold has not done sufficient work to classify the historic estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves and is not treating the historical estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves.  The Company has begun an approximately 25,000 metre drill program to update the resource model and verify or upgrade the historic work to support the development of a current estimate.

Qualified Person Comments/Quality Control Procedures
For sample analysis the Company utilizes a system of Quality Assurance/Quality Control that includes insertion and verification of standards, blanks and duplicates consistent with industry standards. The preparation of this Press Release was supervised and approved by Thomas Burkhart, Argonaut Gold’s Vice President of Exploration and a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101. Mr. Burkhart also reviewed the reverse circulation and core drilling programs and on-site sample preparation procedures at La Colorada.

Samples from the San Agustin Project are collected at site by Argonaut’s personnel and transported to ALS-Chemex preparation laboratory in Zacatecas, where samples are prepared and pulps sent for assay in ALS-Chemex’s Vancouver, BC laboratory. Samples are analyzed for gold by Fire Assay and Atomic absorption finish (Au-AA23 assay code; 0.005 to 10 ppm detection limit) plus Silver by Aqua Regia and Atomic Absorption finish (0.1 to 200 ppm detection limit). Samples over 10 g/t Au are assayed with gravimetric finish (Assay code Au-GRA21). All samples are also assayed by ICP-AES (code ME-ICP41) for a suite of 35 elements.

(Au AA-23 assay method code;). Samples over 10 g/t Au are assayed with gravimetric finish (Assay code AU-GRA21). All samples are also assayed by ICP-MS (code ME-ICP41) for a suite of 35 elements.

The potential quantities and grades disclosed herein are conceptual in nature, there has been insufficient exploration to define an updated mineral resources and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in these targets being delineated as an updated mineral resource.

About Argonaut Gold
Argonaut Gold is a Canadian gold company engaged in exploration, mine development and production activities. Its primary assets are the production stage El Castillo mine in Durango, Mexico, and the La Colorada mine in Sonora, Mexico. Advanced exploration stage projects include the San Antonio project in Baja California Sur, Mexico, and the Magino project in Ontario, Canada. The recently acquired San Agustín project is the primary exploration target for Argonaut in 2014. The Company also has several exploration stage projects, all of which are located in North America.