Equinox Publishes Preliminary Production Results for 1st Quarter 2011

TORONTO, April 25 /CNW/ - Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX symbol: "EQN") ("Equinox" or the "Company") announced today its preliminary production results for the quarter ended March 31, 2011 ("Q1-2011") from its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Mine ("Lumwana") in Zambia.

Ore mined for the quarter was 4.29 million tonnes, with 4.85 million tonnes of ore milled at a head grade of 0.66% copper and recoveries of 89.2% copper for production of 28,621 tonnes (63 M lbs).

Mined ore grade of 0.61% Cu was down on 4Q10 (0.69% Cu) as a result of the majority of ore being sourced from Stage 4 of the Malundwe Pit during the quarter. Grades for the remainder of the year are expected to increase as the percentage of Stage 3 ore mined increases with the average 2011 grade to be around 4Q10 levels.

Material movements of 19.4mt showed a significant increase (+29%) on the corresponding quarter for 2010, which is the relevant comparison due to the seasonal impact of the wet season on the operation. Key wet season management initiatives included the sheeting of haul roads in and out of the pit with basalt, increased pumping capacity and hot seat change overs.

Increased tyre wear during the quarter resulted in lower than expected fleet availability which hampered mining rates during the quarter. While tyre wear is expected to be higher during the wet season, it will reduce in the coming months. Productivity during the wetter conditions was also lower than usual and impacted the material movement.

Plant throughput for the quarter was 4.85mt which is within 3% of design capacity. Copper recoveries of 89.2% exceeded expectations and were in line with 4Q10 despite a drop in feed grade to 0.66% (4Q10: 0.69%).

C1 operating costs were $1.93 per pound which was an increase from Q410 ($1.64), due to the impact of lower head grades and resulting lower production and higher mining costs during the wet weather. Increased tyre wear and above budget diesel costs were the major reasons for increased unit mining costs during the quarter.

Sales for the quarter were impacted by operating issues at both the Chambishi Copper Smelter Limited operated by China Non-ferrous Metal Mining and Yunnan Copper (oxygen plant failure), and the Konkola Copper Mines Plc smelter at Nchanga on the Zambian Copperbelt (foaming incident).

Management reaffirms the production guidance for Lumwana for the 2011 year will be 145,000 tonnes of copper metal in concentrates at an average estimated C1 operating cost of $1.45 per pound. Equinox however notes that industry wide cost pressure such as diesel, consumables and expatriate labour present risks to cost guidance.

Lumwana Mine Production Statistics

                                     
Production Statistic     Measure     Q1 2011     Q4 2010     Q3 2010     Q2 2010     Q1 2010
Total material movement     Tonnes (m)     19.37     28.52     30.37     26.60     14.99
Ore mined     Tonnes (m)     4.29     5.22     4.18     5.09     3.09
Ore processed     Tonnes (m)     4.85     5.48     4.94     4.57     3.59
Head grade     Copper %     0.66     0.69     0.87     1.02     0.93
Copper recovery     Copper %     89     90     89     94     92
Concentrate grade     Copper %     39     37     41     44     44
Copper in concentrate     Tonnes     28,621     33,939     38,445     43,835     30,471
Copper in concentrate     Pounds (m)     63.10     74.82     84.76     96.64     67.18
Copper sold     Tonnes     24,125     33,421     35,784     35,929     26,596
C1 operating cost(1)     Per Pound     $1.93     $1.64     $1.21     $1.19     $1.60

Equinox President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Williams said that "Whilst copper in concentrate was lower than Q1-2010 it is pleasing to see the strong mining and process figures in this first quarter of 2011. We reiterate our 2011 production guidance of 145,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate at a C1 operating cost of $1.45/lb."

About Equinox
Equinox Minerals Limited is an international mining company dual-listed on the Canadian (Toronto) and Australian stock exchanges.

The Company is currently focused on operating its 100% owned large scale Lumwana Copper Mine in Zambia and construction of the Jabal Sayid Copper-Gold project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Equinox acquired the Lumwana project in 1999 and following nearly 10 years of feasibility, financing and construction, commissioned the mine, plant and infrastructure in December 2008. Situated 220 kilometres northwest of the Zambian Copperbelt, Lumwana is now a major copper mine which has established Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies.

Equinox recently acquired its interest in the Jabal Sayid project (70% owned; Equinox is in the process of acquiring the remaining 30%) as the project entered the construction phase with first production scheduled for 2012. Jabal Sayid is located within the Arabian Shield minerals province, 350 kilometres north-east of the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, and 120 kilometres south-east of Medina.

For information on Equinox and technical details on the Lumwana and Jabal Sayid projects please refer to the company website at www.equinoxminerals.com

Cautionary Notes

Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained or incorporated by reference in this press release include forward-looking statements, which may include, but is not limited to, statements with respect to the future financial or operating performances of Equinox, its subsidiaries and their respective projects, the timing and amount of estimated future production, estimated costs of future production, capital, operating and exploration expenditures, costs and timing of the expansion of the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia and development of the Jabal Sayid copper-gold project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the future price copper and uranium, the estimation of mineral reserves and mineral resources, the realization of mineral reserve estimates, the costs of Equinox's hedging policy, costs and timing of future exploration, requirements for additional capital, government regulation of exploration, development and mining operations, environmental risks, reclamation and rehabilitation expenses, title disputes or claims, and limitations of insurance coverage. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can often, but not always, be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates", "predicts", "potential", "continue" or "believes", or variations (including negative variations) of such words; or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "should", "might", "potential to", or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved or other similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts. The purpose of forward-looking statements is to provide the reader with information about management's expectations and plans.  Readers are cautioned that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance.

Forward-looking statements are necessarily based on a number of factors, estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by Equinox as of the date of such statements, are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies. Such factors, estimates and assumptions of the Company contained in this news release include, but are not limited to, anticipated financial or operating performances of Equinox, its subsidiaries and their respective projects; future prices of copper and uranium; the estimation of mineral reserves and resources; the realization of mineral reserve estimates; the timing and amount of estimated future production; estimated costs of future production; the grade, quality and content of the concentrate produced; the sale of production and the performance of offtakers; capital, operating and exploration expenditures; costs and timing of development and expansion of Lumwana and Jabal Sayid; the costs of Equinox's hedging policy; the costs and timing of future exploration; requirements for additional capital; government regulation of exploration, development and mining operations; environmental risks; reclamation and rehabilitation expenses; title disputes or claims; there being no significant risks relating to the Company's mining operations, including political risks and instability and risks related to international operations; and limitations of insurance coverage. While the Company considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect.

Readers are cautioned that forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Equinox and/or its subsidiaries to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, including the risk that the Offer will not be completed for any reason. Certain of these risks and uncertainties are described in more detail in the section entitled "Risks Factors" in the Company's Annual Information Form dated March 14, 2011 and in the Company's most recently filed Management's Discussion and Analysis, to which readers are referred and which are incorporated by reference in this news release. The Company's Annual Information Form and its most recently filed Management's Discussion and Analysis are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.equinoxminerals.com.

Although Equinox has attempted to identify statements containing important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. Forward-looking information contained herein are made as of the date of this document based on the opinions and estimates of management on the date statements containing such forward looking information are made, and Equinox disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, estimates or opinions, future events or results or otherwise, except as required by law. There can be no assurance that forward-looking information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such information. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking information.

SOURCE Equinox Minerals Limited

For further information:

Investors and analysts         Media - Australia
Craig R Williams
President and Chief Executive

Carl Hallion
VP Business Development

Len Eldridge
Head of Investor Relations

Phone:
Canada:  +1 416 865 3393
Australia: +61 8 9322 3318
Email: equinox@equinoxminerals.com
        Michael Vaughan / Andrew Stokes
FD
Phone +61 (0) 2 8298 6100
Email: michael.vaughan@fd.com 
andrew.stokes@fd.com

Media - North America
John Lute
Lute and Company
Phone: +1 416 929 5883
Email: jlute@luteco.com

Media - Zambia
Nathan Chishimba
Lumwana Mining Company
Phone: +260 211 257 643
Email: nathan.chishimba@lumwanamine.com



 

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Equinox Minerals Limited

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