Production Guidance for 2010
ARBN 108 066 986
TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ - Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX: EQN) ("Equinox" or the "Company") announced today its preliminary production results for the quarter ended December 31, 2009 ("Q4-2009") from its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Mine ("Lumwana") in Zambia.
Production for the 2009 year totaled 109,413 tonnes (241 M lbs) of copper in concentrate. Preliminary Q4-2009 copper production results demonstrate the continued improvement of production from the preceding three quarters.
During the December quarter, Lumwana continued the ramp up phase for both the mine and process plant operations. The production results have shown continued improvement quarter on quarter over 2009, with a Q3-09 to Q4-09 improvement of copper in concentrate production of 23%. This is a sound achievement, particularly during the onset of the wet season, which impacted productivity during the quarter.
The Lumwana operations team has continued to focus on mining equipment availability and utilization. Progress has been made with the equipment suppliers on improving their maintenance and repair contract performance. Further improvement is necessary to meet equipment availability requirements, however it is expected these issues will be resolved over the coming quarters. The wet season has had a negative impact on utilization and this is reflected in the reduced total material movement in the quarter. The mining team is working on a number of strategies to improve performance and mine productivity. Process plant recoveries have shown marked improvement to 92%, reflecting the reduced proportion of transitional ore processed during the quarter.
Mining and stockpiling of uranium mineralization also continued during the quarter. The uranium ore stockpile on the ROM pad currently stands at about 2.5mt @ 1,000 ppm U and 0.8% Cu.
PRELIMINARY PRODUCTION 2009
STATISTICS Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 TOTAL
Total mine material
movement Mt 8.88 20.80 29.89 21.64 81.21
Ore mined Mt 1.84 3.03 4.02 4.20 13.09
Ore processed Mt 2.88 3.03 3.82 3.97 13.69
Head grade Cu % 0.93% 0.98% 0.92% 0.95% 0.95%
Copper recovery % 83% 82% 80% 92% 85%
Concentrate grade Cu % 39% 39% 47% 46% 43%
Copper produced in
concentrate tonnes 22,263 24,413 28,111 34,626 109,413
Copper produced in
concentrate M lbs 49.08 53.82 61.97 76.34 241.22
Production Guidance for 2010
The ramp up to full production of the Lumwana Mine will continue through the first half of 2010, with a target of achieving design throughput rate of 20 Mtpa for the mine and mill in H2-10. Target production for 2010 is about 135,000 tonnes (300 M lbs) of copper in concentrate at a C1 cash cost of $1.35/lb Cu. Meeting this target is dependent on a range of factors including performance of the mine and mill during the wet season which the Company expects to particularly impact Q1-10, improvement in the availability and utilization of the mining fleet and performance of the processing plant.
Equinox President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Williams said that "production in Q4-2009 continued the trend of quarter-on-quarter improvement throughout 2009, with Lumwana delivering annual production for 2009 of 109,413 tonnes of copper in concentrate. This is a commendable performance from the Lumwana team. We continue to ramp up the Lumwana operation and, while we still expect challenges ahead, improvement in mine and plant productivity should continue into the 2010 dry season, delivering our production target for 2010 of 135,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate."
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
Cautionary Language and 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 achieving design throughput for the mill in H2-10; that 2010 production is expected to be 135,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate at a C1 cash cost of $1.35/lb Cu and that improvement in mine and plant productivity should continue into the 2010 dry season, 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 achieving design throughput for the mill in H2-10; that 2010 production is expected to be 135,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate at a C1 cash cost of $1.35/lb Cu; and that improvement in mine and plant productivity should continue into the 2010 dry season, the Company has assumed that the distribution of the copper mineralization described in the Amended Technical Report dated April 2009 is accurate and that it will successfully mine through the oxide and transition mineralization in the weathering profile and reach the more consistent sulphide ore; that its ongoing efficiency programs and efforts will continue to result in productivity improvements and that the continuing efforts of its equipment suppliers will achieve the desired results and meet their contractual commitments to the Company. Further in relation to mining of the orebody, it assumes that it will successfully segregate the uranium mineralization within the copper orebody at the lower 200ppm U cutoff grade. While the Company continues to evaluate and address its productivity issues, the full impact of them on the Company's annual production target, earnings and ability to meet its obligations cannot be ascertained at this time. Similarly, there can be no assurance on the affect of these issues on the Company's debt service obligations or loan covenants under its banking facilities and its offtake obligations. The Company is actively evaluating and addressing these issues with the expectation of mitigating them in the near term.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Kevin van Niekerk (V.P. Investor Relations), Phone: (416) 865-3393, Email: email@example.com; or David Griffiths (Gryphon Management Australia), Phone +61 (0) 419 912 496, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org