TORONTO, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX: EQN) ("Equinox" or the "Company") is pleased to announce today that it has secured commitments from four leading commercial banks, Standard Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and BNP Paribas, to provide a new corporate loan facility (the "Corporate Facility") totaling US$400 million.
As the Corporate Facility affords Equinox greater flexibility than the existing project debt facilities, the Company will utilize the Corporate Facility to repay its existing senior and subordinated project debt facilities provided to the Company's wholly owned subsidiary Lumwana Mining Company ("LMC") in 2006 for the development of the Company's Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.
The securing of the Corporate Facility reflects a maturing of Equinox as a significant global copper producer and demonstrates recognition by international banks of the Company's attractive and stable, long-term future prospects.
Equinox President and Chief Executive Officer, Craig Williams, said, "the provision of this loan facility by a core group of international commercial banks is recognition of the strength of the Lumwana copper mine and the long-term prospects of the Equinox group.
"Refinancing our existing project debt facilities with a corporate loan reflects our transition from a developer to an operator of a world class mining asset. Our Company will benefit from the increased flexibility in the structure of this facility and is now very well placed to move to the next phase of its growth."
The US$400 million Corporate Facility is subject to the execution of documentation and meeting conditions precedent. The Company is well advanced in this process and expects to achieve financial close during March 2010. The key features of the Corporate Facility are as follows:
- A 3 year US$220 million term loan (the "Term Loan") with quarterly
principal and interest repayments commencing on March 31, 2010. This
facility attracts a credit margin of 4.00% over LIBOR and Equinox
anticipates principal repayments during 2010 will total approximately
- A 5 year US$180 million revolving facility (the "Revolving Facility")
that allows the Company to repay and redraw up to the facility limit
over its term. The credit margin is 4.75% over LIBOR for the first
two years, thereafter reducing to 4.00% over LIBOR. Interest charges
are payable quarterly in arrears commencing on March 31, 2010. Three
years after the first drawdown and annually thereafter, the Company
can request a 12 month extension to the expiry date of the Revolving
- The Company can request an increase in the amount available under the
Term Facility by US$80 million and/or the Revolving Facility by US
$100 million, subject to the approval of the lenders;
- The Corporate Facility contains certain financial covenants based on
the consolidated accounts for Equinox that are considered to be
typical for a facility of this nature. The Corporate Facility also
contains covenants that are specific to the performance of the
Lumwana copper project. The Corporate Facility is less restrictive
than LMC's existing project debt facilities and does not contain any
cash sweep provisions, nor does it require Equinox to maintain the
existing US$45 million Cost Overrun Facility (that still remains
- There are no mandatory hedging requirements attaching to the
- Equinox will incur certain break fees under the existing project debt
facilities as a result of the refinancing. The amount of these break
fees is still being finalized but is expected to be in the range of
US$15 million to US$20 million; and
- The existing asset backed finance facilities for the mining fleet,
currently totalling US$104.3 million, will remain in place.
"We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the pivotal role that our existing project finance banks played in the development of the Lumwana copper mine. Our project finance lending group included a number of development finance institutions as well as commercial lenders and without their support and belief in Equinox and Lumwana, the project would not have been able to be built," Mr Williams added.
Craig R. Williams - President & Chief Executive Officer
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, one of the largest new copper mines to be developed globally over the last few years.
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 km northwest of the Zambian Copperbelt, Lumwana hosts a proven and probable mineral reserve of 321 Mt of ore grading 0.7% Cu plus inferred resources of 417 Mt of 0.6% Cu. Lumwana is now a major copper mine which will establish Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies.
At initial design capacity, Lumwana will process in excess of 20 million tonnes of ore per year, mined at an average life of mine strip ratio of 4.2:1. Lumwana ore, which is predominantly sulphide, is treated through a large, yet conventional plant, producing a copper concentrate for sale to local and international offtakers.
In addition Equinox is also looking at opportunities to grow the Company through both internal expansion (potential uranium plant to process the high grade uranium stockpile and an expansion of the Lumwana copper plant throughput rate) and through the international search for mergers and acquisitions.
For information on Equinox and technical details on the Lumwana Project please refer to the company website at www.equinoxminerals.com
Cautionary Note regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains certain information which may constitute "forward-looking statements" and/or "forward-looking information" within the meaning of securities laws. Forward-looking information can often, but not always, be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "is expected", "is expecting", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates", or "believes", or variations (including negative 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 may relate to management's future outlook and anticipated events or results and may include statements or information regarding its future plans or prospects of the Company. Without limitation, statements that the Company anticipates closing the US$400 million Corporate Facility by March 2010; all statements relating to the terms and conditions of the Corporate Facility and that Equinox will incur break fees in the amount of US$15 million to US$20 million, are forward-looking statements. The purpose of forward-looking information is to provide the reader with information about management's expectations and plans for 2010. Forward-looking information is based on certain factors and assumptions regarding, among other things, 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 sale of future production and the performance of off-takers; capital, operating and exploration expenditures; costs and timing of the development of the Lumwana Project; 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. Without limitation, in stating that the Company anticipates closing the US$400 million Corporate Facility by March 2010, including any statements related to the terms and conditions of the Corporate Facility and in stating that the Company will incur break fees in the amount of US$15 million to US$20 million, the Company has assumed that it will satisfy all of the conditions precedent and obtain all necessary approvals to close the Corporate Facility in March 2010. Readers are cautioned that forward-looking information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Equinox and/or its subsidiaries to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. These factors include risks inherent in the exploration and development of mineral deposits; operational risks inherent in the conduct of mining activities; risks relating to changes in copper and uranium prices; changes in demand and supply of copper and uranium; uncertainties inherent in the estimation of mineral reserves and resources; risks inherent in the estimation of future production and future production costs; the estimation of cash costs of copper production; risks related to the Company's indebtedness including risks related to meeting its financial covenants; financing risks; risks related to interest rates, exchange rates; inflation or deflation; changes in the value of the U.S. dollar to foreign currencies; political and economic conditions of major copper-producing countries; risks inherent in securing off-take arrangements and terms and/or enforcing such terms; insurance, government regulation, licences and permits and environmental risks; risks inherent in the estimation of reclamation costs; risks related to the Company's hedging activities; litigation; competition and reliance on key personnel. These risks are discussed in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Information Form dated March 27, 2009. 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. 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. Scientific and technical information contained in this press release has been prepared under the supervision of Robert Rigo, BEng., FAusIMM, MIEAust, Vice President, Project Development of Equinox who is a "Qualified Person" in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects. Readers are cautioned not to rely solely on the summary of information contained in this release, but should read the Amended Technical Report which is posted on Equinox's website at www.equinoxminerals.com and filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and any future amendments to such report. Reader are also directed to the cautionary notices and disclaimers contained therein. Readers are cautioned not to rely solely on the summary of such information contained in this release, but should also read the final prospectus dated April 16, 2009 and the documents incorporated by reference therein, particularly, the Annual Information Form dated March 27, 2009, all of which are filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com). Readers are also directed to the cautionary notices and disclaimers contained herein.
SOURCE Equinox Minerals Limited
For further information: For further information: Craig R. Williams, (President and Chief Executive Officer), Michael Klessens, (Vice President - Finance and Chief Financial Officer), Phone: +61 (0) 8 9322 3318, Email: email@example.com; or Kevin van Niekerk, (V.P. Investor Relations), Phone: (416) 865-3393, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or David Griffiths, (Gryphon Management Australia), Phone +61 (0) 419 912 496, Email: email@example.com