SPOKANE, WA, Jan. 16 /CNW/ - Minera Andes Inc. (TSX: MAI and US OTC:
MNEAF) is pleased to provide an update on the producing San José mine in
southern Argentina. The San José project is operated by Minera Santa Cruz S.A.
("MSC") owned 51% by Hochschild Mining plc ("Hochschild") (HOC.L: Reuters and
HOC.LN: Bloomberg - London Stock Exchange) and 49% by Minera Andes. MSC
forecasts that at the expanded production rate, the San José mine will produce
approximately 95,000 ounces of gold and 7,500,000 ounces of silver in 2009.
MSC has reported to Minera Andes that during the fourth quarter of 2008
the completion of the expansion project to double the processing capacity of
the plant at San José from the original design rate of 750 metric tons per day
("MTPD") to 1,500 MTPD was achieved. Approximately half of the concentrate
produced by the mill is converted on site to doré bullion. The increased
production volume and connection to the national power grid, which is forecast
to be completed in the first quarter of 2009, should enable a significant
reduction in unit operating costs in 2009.
Allen Ambrose, President of Minera Andes commented:
"The successful completion of the expansion and related optimization
projects will lower unit costs and help maintain San José's position
as a low-cost silver/gold mine at a time of market volatility. Future
capital projects are planned to be financed through the mine's
operational cash flow."
- In November 2007 MSC committed to double the capacity of the San José
mine and processing facility, to increase the capacity from 750 MTPD
to 1,500 MTPD. In addition to increasing the output from the
operation, the expansion is intended to reduce unit operating costs
by realizing economies of scale at the increased production level. As
previously reported by Minera Andes, completion of the expansion of
the processing facility was delayed from the original date of mid-
August to late-October 2008 due to delays in the delivery of critical
components, especially the second 750 MTPD grinding mill. As a result
of the delays and other commissioning issues, the production target
for 2008 was reduced by about 65,000 metric tonnes compared to the
original 2008 budget.
- At the expanded rate, MSC forecasts that about half of the
gold/silver concentrates will be converted to doré bullion on site by
the Gekko intensive leaching circuit, and the other half will be
marketed directly as concentrates. Conversion of the concentrates to
doré bullion reduces treatment and refining costs, selling expenses
and also reduces the export tax from 10% to 5%.
- In parallel with the expansion of the process facility, mine
production is being increased from 750 MTPD to 1,500 MTPD. This is
being achieved mainly by developing the Kospi vein, which is
centrally located between the currently producing Huevos Verde and
Frea veins. Difficult ground conditions were encountered in the
decline ramp access to the Kospi vein, which has delayed development.
The ramp has been re-routed, and MSC expects that the re-routed ramp
will intersect the vein early in the first quarter and that
production on the vein will commence in the second quarter of 2008.
Meanwhile, mill feed will be generated from expanded mine production
on the Huevos Verde and Frea veins plus a surface stockpile of low-
- A project is underway to connect the project to the national power
grid though the construction of a 130 kilometer 132kV electric
transmission line. The project was due to be completed by the end of
September 2008, but MSC now forecasts that completion will be early
in the first quarter of 2009 because the Province of Santa Cruz
denied the permits to build the electric line along the right of way
of the Provincial highway. As a result, MSC had to redesign and
lengthen the location of the electric line and negotiate agreements
with private land owners along the redesigned route. MSC estimates
that the cost for the transmission line has increased approximately
75% to about US$21 million due to the re-routing and increased
materials and installation costs. MSC expects that the grid
connection will cut its power costs by more than half. The existing
diesel generators, which are fully capable of providing sufficient
power for the expanded 1,500 MTPD operation, will remain on site for
- As described above, approximately half of the concentrates produced
at San José are converted to doré bullion on site by means of the
Gekko intensive leaching circuit. Converting the concentrate to doré
bullion allows substantial savings in transportation and refining
costs as well as savings on export duties. MSC has initiated a
project to expand the Gekko circuit to process all of the concentrate
so that 100% of the output for the operation would be in the form of
doré bullion. MSC has already spent or committed approximately US$9.7
million on this project, but MSC has suspended further capital
expenditures on the project until it can be fully funded from cash
flow from operations.
2008 Capital Expenditure
As of the end of the third quarter 2008, the capital expenditures during
2008 were as follows:
Mine Development 6.4
Plant Expansion 21.6
Sustaining Development & Improvements 7.3
Electric Transmission Line 4.1
100% Doré Project 0.2
During the fourth quarter, the Argentine tax authority refunded $4.9
million in value added taxes.
As reported on December 19, 2008, the Company announced that it would
receive a cash call of approximately US$11.3 million due on February 17, 2008
from MSC to finance the higher than budgeted costs for the expansion and
development of the San José project. The cash call was made notwithstanding
previous assurances from MSC that additional cash calls would not be required
and that MSC expected to pay for plant expansion costs from cash flow. Most of
the capital expenditure for the expansion will have been completed by the end
of January 2009, and MSC forecasts that the operation will be fully self
funding after the February cash call.
Technical and financial results were reported to Minera Andes by MSC. The
data was reviewed by Allen Ambrose, Minera Andes' President, who is a
qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101.
Minera Andes is a gold, silver and copper exploration company working in
Argentina. The Company holds about 304,000 acres of mineral exploration land
in Argentina including the 49% owned San José silver/gold mine. Minera Andes
is also exploring the Los Azules copper project in San Juan province, where an
exploration program has defined a resource and a scoping study is underway.
Other exploration properties, primarily silver and gold, are being evaluated
in southern Argentina. The Corporation presently has 190,158,851 shares issued
This news is submitted by Allen V. Ambrose, President and Director of
Minera Andes Inc.
For further information, please contact: Art Johnson at the Spokane
office, or Krister A. Kottmeier, investor relations - Canada, at the Vancouver
office. Visit our Web site: www.minandes.com.
Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements:
This press release contains certain "forward-looking statements",
including, but not limited to, the statements regarding the Company's
strategic plans, evolution of mineral resources and reserves, work programs,
development plans and exploration budgets at the Company's San José Project.
The forward-looking statements express, as at the date of this press release,
the Company's plans, estimates, forecasts, projections, expectations or
beliefs as to future events and results. Forward-looking statements involve a
number of risks and uncertainties, and there can be no assurance that such
statements will prove to be accurate. Therefore, actual results and future
events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. In
particular, there can be no assurance that production forecasts, or cost
savings at the San José mine will be successfully achieved, increased, or that
resources and reserves at the San José mine will be increased. Risks and
uncertainties that could cause results or future events to differ materially
from current expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking
statements include, but are not limited to, factors associated with
fluctuations in the market price of precious metals, mining industry risks,
risks associated with foreign operations, the state of the capital markets,
environmental risks and hazards, uncertainty as to calculation of mineral
reserves and other risks. We refer readers to the risk factors and
uncertainties described in the Company's continuous disclosure record, a copy
of which is available under the Company's profile at www.sedar.com. Minera
Andes' joint venture partner, a subsidiary of Hochschild Mining plc, and its
affiliates do not accept responsibility for the use of project data or the
adequacy or accuracy of this release.
For further information:
For further information: Spokane Office, 111 East Magnesium Road; Ste.
A, Spokane, WA 99208 USA, Phone: (509) 921-7322, E-mail: email@example.com;
Vancouver Office, 911-470 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C., V6C 1V5, Phone:
(604) 689-7017; (877) 689-7018, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org