Avion Gold Corporation

Avion Gold Corporation

February 13, 2012 07:00 ET

Avion Gold Corporation: Underground Ore Production Starts at Tabakoto Mine, Mali

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 13, 2012) - Avion Gold Corporation (TSX:AVR) (OTCQX:AVGCF) ("Avion" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that production operations have started at its newly developed underground mine at the Tabakoto gold deposit in Mali, West Africa.

Underground Mine Production Commences

The first stope blast from the Tabakoto Northwest 1 orebody was fired on February 9, 2012, and ore is currently being extracted from the stope. The entire stope is estimated to contain 10,600 tonnes of ore at an average diluted grade of 4.11 g/t Au.

The Tabakoto underground mine is scheduled to produce approximately 470,000 tonnes of ore in 2012, at an average grade of 4.34 g/t Au, for approximately 60,000 ounces of gold recovered by the process plant. This represents 41% of estimated gold production for 2012. The other 59% of the gold production will come from open pit mining.

Commenting on the start of production at the Tabakoto underground mine, Avion's Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Andrew Bradfield, stated: "The commencement of production ore mining from the Tabakoto underground mine is a milestone for Avion. It is an important step in the Company's goal of achieving 4,000 tonnes per day of process plant capacity in 2012. This increase in capacity is anticipated to achieve a run-rate of 200,000 ounces of gold per annum by the fourth quarter of 2012."

First Ore Mined From The Djambaye II Open Pit

The Company is also pleased to announce that it has started to mine ore from its Djambaye II open pit. The tonnes and grades are consistent with the orebody model, and the delineated near-surface location of the top of the orebody. Approximately 574,000 tonnes of ore at an average grade of 3.92 g/t Au, for approximately 66,000 ounces of gold, are scheduled to be mined from the deposit in 2012.

Ore from the Dioulafoundou and Ségala NW open pits will provide the remainder of the 2012 mill feed for the Company's 2012 production guidance of 140,000 to 150,000 ounces of gold.

Mill Expansion Update

The Semi-Autogenous Grinding ("SAG") mill is currently being assembled on the mill foundation. Construction remains on schedule to be completed around the end of the first quarter of 2012 so that commissioning can be carried out over the second and third quarters as the Company advances the plant to 4,000 tonnes per day in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Bradfield, P.Eng., the Chief Operating Officer of the Company, and a qualified person
under National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release.

About Avion Gold Corporation

Avion is a Canadian-based gold mining company focused in West Africa that holds 80% of the Tabakoto and Ségala gold projects in Mali. Gold production commenced at these projects in 2009 with approximately 51,290 ounces produced. 2010 production was 87,630 ounces of gold. 2011 production was 91,238 ounces of gold. The current mineral reserve estimate (as of January 1, 2011) of 7.24 million tonnes grading 3.92 g/t Au totaling 913,100 ounces of gold (proven and probable), for the Tabakoto project property, demonstrates several sources of excellent grade open pit and good grade underground mineral resources thus providing significant flexibility for Avion's future mining plans. The Company has developed an underground mine at the Tabakoto deposit, and is developing another underground mine at the Ségala deposit. The Tabakoto project property also contains several producing open pit mines. Production sustainability will continue to be supported by exploration programs over an approximately 600 km2 exploration package that both surrounds and is near to the Company's existing mine infrastructure, and contains mineral resources on the Kofi property. Additionally, mineral resources have grown considerably at Avion's 1,600 km2 Houndé exploration property in Burkina Faso. Aggressive exploration programs are underway at the Tabakoto, Kofi and Houndé properties for 2012. Avion continues to progress towards its short term goal of 200,000 ounces of gold per year and a longer term goal of 400,000 to 500,000 ounces of gold per year through development of its exploration properties. Avion has a highly skilled management team, with a focus on growth and consolidation within West Africa.

Cautionary Notes

This press release contains "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking information includes, without limitation, statements regarding the production estimates for 2012; impact of the mineral resource update on the Company; statements regarding plant expansions; statements regarding the impact of the drilling results on the Company; statements with respect to the development potential and timetable of the Tabakoto and Houndé projects; the future price of gold; the estimation of mineral resources; conclusions of economic evaluation (including scoping studies); the realization of mineral resource estimates; the timing and amount of estimated future production, development and exploration; costs of future activities; capital and operating expenditures; success of exploration activities; mining or processing issues; currency exchange rates; government regulation of mining operations; and environmental risks. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved". Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to those risks described in the annual information form of the Company which is available under the profile of the Company on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

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