Equinox Publishes Preliminary Lumwana Production Results for 2nd Quarter 2010

TORONTO, July 12 /CNW/ - Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX: EQN) ("Equinox" or the "Company") announced today its preliminary production results for the quarter ended June 30, 2010 ("Q2-2010") from its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Mine ("Lumwana") in Zambia.

Production performance at Lumwana continued to improve in Q2-2010 with a record 43,835 tonnes of copper (97 million pounds) produced in concentrate. Production for the first half of 2010 now stands at 74,306 tonnes of copper (164 million pounds) in concentrate and the Company is maintaining its guidance for 2010 of 135,000 tonnes of copper production.

Record ore mined (5.09mt), ore milled (4.57mt), head grade (1.02%) and copper recovery (94%) resulted in the production of 43,835 tonnes of copper, 44% higher than the previous quarter and 80% higher than the corresponding quarter in 2009. Although still impacted by some wet weather early in Q2-2010, total material moved was 26.6mt representing an annualized rate in excess of 100mt, while ore mined exceeded 5mt (equivalent to 20mtpa) for the first time.

Lumwana Mine Production Statistics

    
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    Production
    Statistic   Measure  Q2 2010  Q1 2010  Q4 2009  Q3 2009  Q2 2009  Q1 2009

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    Total
     material
     movement      Mt      26.60    14.99    22.23    29.30    20.80     8.88

    Ore mined      Mt       5.09     3.09     4.20     4.02     3.03     1.84

    Ore
     processed     Mt       4.57     3.59     3.96     3.82     3.03     2.88

    Head grade    Cu %      1.02     0.93     0.94     0.92     0.98     0.93

    Copper
     recovery     Cu %        94       92       93       80       82       83

    Concentrate
     grade        Cu %        44       44       46       47       39       39

    Copper in
     concentrate  Tonnes  43,835   30,471   34,626   28,111   24,413   22,263

    Copper in
     concentrate  M lbs    96.61    67.18    76.33    61.97    53.82    49.08

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Improvements in mobile equipment availability, equipment utilization and productivity all contributed to the improvement in material mined. The improved utilization and productivity resulted from the Hitachi fleet moving into new pit stages to the north and the south of the Starter Pit; stages that had been stripped of oxide material by the light fleet over the prior two quarters. More efficient and productive mining has resulted from the opening up of these additional stages where improved mine planning practices utilizing longer working faces, larger blasts and higher benches markedly improved results. Most of the ore mined was still sourced from the higher grade Starter Pit over the quarter, but this will shift to the new stages over the remainder of the year resulting in lower grade feed to the mill.

The Company's maintenance improvement program, undertaken in conjunction with Hitachi, has resulted in an improvement in equipment availability and the focus is now shifting to planned maintenance and better management of parts inventories. Two of the five new Hitachi EH-4500 trucks have been commissioned over the last few weeks, with assembly of the other three expected to be completed progressively over Q3-2010. At times, the shovels were truck limited, with longer waste hauls while lifting the tailings dam, but this should reduce as the lift finishes in Q3-2010 and the five new trucks become available.

The mill and crusher had a planned six day shutdown in May, but produced at rates of close to 20 Mtpa in April and June. The primary constraint is now the crushing circuit and plans are underway to improve utilization, availability and feed rates to the crusher in the third quarter. Very little transitional ore was treated during Q2-2010 resulting in record recoveries of 94%. It is expected that some transition ore will need to be treated over the remainder of the year and this will see lower recoveries over the second half of 2010.

In addition to the 5.09 million tonnes of copper ore mined during the quarter, mining of the uranium zones at Valeria South and Valeria North within the Malundwe pit continued during the quarter with 1.15 million tonnes of uranium-copper ore mined. The Lumwana uranium-copper ore stockpile on the ROM pad has increased to 4.20 million tonnes grading 924 ppm uranium and 0.8% copper. This uranium-copper ore is being diverted away from the copper concentrator to stockpiles and is being classified and expensed as 'waste' to the copper project. This uranium-copper ore stockpile may be treated at a later date, if and when the Company builds a uranium plant.

Equinox President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Williams said that "production of 43,835 tonnes of copper for the quarter reflects a substantially improved performance in all major areas of the mine and is an outstanding result and a credit to the intense hard work put in by the Lumwana team to improve the productivity of operations."

    
    Craig R. Williams - President & Chief Executive Officer
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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, 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.

Lumwana is mining and processing 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 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

    
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    Cautionary Notes and Forward-Looking Statements
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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 is maintaining its guidance for 2010 of 135,000 tonnes of copper production and Lumwana will establish Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies; 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 is maintaining its guidance for 2010 of 135,000 tonnes of copper production and that Lumwana will establish Equinox as one of the world's top 20 copper producing companies, 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.

    
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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: equinox@equinoxminerals.com or Kevin van Niekerk (V.P. Investor Relations), Phone: +1 (416) 865 3393, Email: kevin.van.niekerk@equinoxminerals.com or David Griffiths (Gryphon Management Australia), Phone +61 (0) 419 912 496, Email: david.griffiths@gryphon.net.au

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