KINGMAN, AZ, March 5 /CNW/ - Mercator Minerals Ltd. (ML: TSX) is pleased
to announce that it has commenced construction of its Phase 3 expansion of a
50,000 ton-per-day mill that will produce copper and molybdenum concentrates,
boosting overall production at Mineral Park to a forecast 56 million pounds of
copper, 10 million pounds of molybdenum and 0.6 million ounces of silver per
year. In addition, Mercator has sold its Tucson mill back to ASARCO for
US$9 million, 50% more than the US$6 million purchase price paid 18 months
ago, and settled the outstanding litigation.
"The commencement of construction for the Phase 3 expansion of the
Mineral Park Mine represents a major milestone in Mercator's transformation to
a significant producer of copper-molybdenum," said Mike Surratt, President and
CEO of Mercator Minerals. "Despite a number of challenges, we have been able
to make rapid progress toward the commencement of milling operations and,
following the recently announced fully subscribed financing of
$US117.6 million and $Cdn25 million, we are now pushing the construction
process forward as rapidly as possible."
Phase 3 Expansion
Having successfully completed the first two phases of its expansion of
SX-EW copper production at Mineral Park, Mercator has now commenced
construction of its Phase 3 expansion, the largest to date. Phase 3 comprises
a two-stage expansion of its wholly owned Mineral Park copper mine with the
addition of a 50,000 ton-per-day milling operation producing copper-silver and
molybdenum concentrates in addition to parallel SX-EW copper production. The
25-year life project is forecast to produce an average of 56.4 million pounds
of copper, 10.3 million pounds of molybdenum and 0.6 million ounces of silver
per year for the first 10 years of operation from this low strip ratio
Since the Mineral Park Mine previously operated as a milling operation
and is currently in production as an SX-EW copper operation, considerable
infrastructure and facilities are already in place, significantly reducing the
capital cost and lead time to production. In addition, as announced
December 4, 2006 and December 11, 2006, Mercator has purchased and/or placed
orders for the long lead time equipment required for Phase 3, most
particularly the SAG and ball mills, ensuring that rapid development schedule
for a second quarter 2008 start up.
Mercator started foundation excavation last week for the SAG and ball
mill foundations. The excavation for these large grinding mills is 30 feet
deep and requires structural backfill back to foundation sub grade. Concrete
work is scheduled for the first week of April. The recently purchased SAG
mills are being moved from Vancouver to a local facility for rebuilding and
the motors are in for refurbishment. "We are on schedule for a mid-2008 start
up," said Mike Surratt.
Sale of Tucson Mill
Additionally, Mercator has sold its Tucson mill back to ASARCO for
US$9 million. Mercator purchased the mill in 2006 for US$6 million. The mill
has been tied up in a frivolous law suit brought forward by ASARCO that could
have materially delayed Mercator's Phase 3 expansion. As announced December 4
& 11, 2006, not willing to have its development schedule held up by what
already has been a lengthy and complex litigation process, Mercator has
recently purchased all of the necessary equipment to replace the Tucson mill
and get the Phase 3 expansion timing back under its own control. The Federal
Bankruptcy Court has approved the re-sale of the Tucson mill, which will
become final after a response period of 10 days for creditors.
Jim Tompkins, P.Eng., the Company's Engineering Manager, a Qualified
Person as defined by NI43-101, supervised the preparation of and verified the
technical information contained in this release.
Mercator Minerals Ltd.
Mercator Minerals is a copper producer that owns and operates the Mineral
Park copper mine in Arizona, with a corporate strategy focused on maximizing
the production potential of the Mineral Park copper-molybdenum deposit. The
Company has filed a technical report for an expansion of copper production
plus molybdenum and silver production.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors
MERCATOR MINERALS LTD.
Per: "Michael L. Surratt"
Michael L. Surratt,
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements, which
include estimates, forecasts, and statements as to management's expectations
with respect to, among other things, the size and quality of the Company's
mineral reserves and mineral resources, future production, capital and mine
production costs, demand and market outlook for commodities, and the financial
results of the Company. These forward-looking statements involve numerous
assumptions, risks and uncertainties and actual results may vary.
Factors that may cause actual results to vary include, but are not
limited to, changes in commodity and power prices, changes in interest and
currency exchange rates, inaccurate geological and metallurgical assumptions
(including with respect to the size, grade and recoverability of mineral
reserves and resources), unanticipated operational difficulties (including
failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate in accordance with
specifications, cost escalation, unavailability of materials and equipment,
delays in the receipt of government approvals, industrial disturbances or
other job action, and unanticipated events related to health, safety and
environmental matters), political risk, social unrest, and changes in general
economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets. These risks are
described in more detail in the Company's Annual Information Form. The Company
does not assume the obligation to revise or update these forward-looking
statements after the date of this report or release or to revise them to
reflect the occurrence of future unanticipated events, except as may be
required under applicable securities laws.
The Toronto Stock Exchange does not accept responsibility for the
adequacy or accuracy of this press release.
For further information:
For further information: Marc LeBlanc, Corporate Secretary, Tel: (604)
981-9661 or (604) 716-5582, Fax: (604) 960-9661, Email: