TORONTO, April 7 /CNW/ - Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX: EQN) ("Equinox" or the "Company") announced today its preliminary production results for the quarter ended March 31, 2010 ("Q1-2010") from its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Mine ("Lumwana") in Zambia.
Production for Q1-2010 totaled 30,471 tonnes (67 M lbs) of copper in concentrate, a 37% increase when compared with the corresponding 2009 period. The Company also reported that it achieved significant improvements in every area of production relative to Q1-2009 with both total material mined and ore mined improving by about 70%.
Following on from the steady production growth through 2009, the Q1-2010 results are particularly pleasing as they were achieved during the wettest part of the year, reflecting a solid continuation of mine and mill ramp up at Lumwana. These results establish a sound base for Equinox to meet its full year 2010 guidance of 135,000 tonnes (300 M lbs) of copper.
As expected by management, the material movements during the wettest part of the year in Q1 were lower than the preceding quarter. Furthermore, during the quarter, both mine and mill tonnages were impacted by a four day electrical power outage when a Zesco distribution grid pylon came down west of Solwezi due to vandalism. The one-off event impacted the whole of the Solwezi region and is the first time electrical power has been limited to the Lumwana site. The milled tonnage was also affected by a scheduled seven day maintenance shutdown to replace the liners in the primary crusher.
The Lumwana operations team continues to focus on the key areas of mining equipment availability and utilization with good progress being made. The addition of five new Hitachi EH4500 trucks, which are expected to be progressively delivered and commissioned over the next two quarters, should further improve Lumwana's production capacity.
Process plant recoveries remained at 92%, with some transitional material treated 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 3.0mt @ 950 ppm uranium and 0.8% copper.
PRODUCTION STATISTICS Q1-09 Q2-09 Q3-09 Q4-09 Q1-10*
Total mine material
movement Mt 8.88 20.80 29.30 22.23 15.43
Ore mined Mt 1.84 3.03 4.02 4.20 3.10
Ore processed Mt 2.88 3.03 3.82 3.96 3.59
Head grade Cu % 0.93% 0.98% 0.92% 0.94% 0.93%
Copper recovery % 83% 82% 80% 93% 92%
Concentrate grade Cu % 39% 39% 47% 46% 44%
Copper produced in
concentrate tonnes 22,263 24,413 28,111 34,626 30,471
Copper produced in
concentrate M lbs 49.08 53.82 61.97 76.34 67.16
* Note that Q1-10 figures are preliminary only
Equinox President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Williams said that "it is particularly pleasing to see the strong copper production figures in this first quarter of 2010 during what will be our wettest quarter each year. This is a solid result for the team, reflecting the continuation of ramp up and placing us on track to deliver 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 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 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 or incorporates by reference certain information which may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Canadian securities laws. 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", or "believes", or variations (including negative variations) of such words , or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might", or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved or similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts, and 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 meeting its previously announced full year 2010 guidance of 135,000 tonnes (300 million pounds) of copper; Lumwana will establish Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies; and that Lumwana will process in excess of 20 million tonnes per year, milled at an average life of mine strip ratio of 4.2:1; including the timing and other related matters of such statements, 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 and subsequent years. Actual results may vary.
Forward-looking statements are 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. While the Company considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect. These factors, estimates and assumptions are fully discussed in the Company's Annual Information Form dated March 15, 2010 filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.equinoxminerals.com. Without limitation, in stating that the Company anticipates meeting its previously announced full year 2010 guidance of 135,000 tonnes of copper, that Lumwana will establish Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies and that Lumwana will process in excess of 20 million tonnes per year, milled at an average life of mine strip ratio of 4.2:1, 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.
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 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 15, 2010. 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. The forward-looking statements 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 statements, whether as a result of new information, estimates or opinions, future events or results or otherwise. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements 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 statements.
Certain technical information in this press release has been summarized or extracted from the Technical Report on the Lumwana Project, North Western Province, Republic of Zambia dated June 2008 and as re-filed in April 2009 (the "Technical Report"). 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 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. Readers are also directed to the cautionary notices and disclaimers contained therein.
SOURCE Equinox Minerals Limited
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