Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX and ASX symbol: “EQN”) ("Equinox" or the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has accepted from its EPC Contractor (a joint venture between Ausenco Projects Limited and Bateman International Projects BV) handover of the process plant and other related infrastructure at its Lumwana Copper Project (“Project”), reaching Practical Completion and attaining the final milestone under the EPC contract.
Equinox reported on October 7, 2008 that crushing of material at the primary crusher had commenced with the 4.5km conveying circuit transporting crushed material to the fine ore stockpile at the copper concentrator. Plant commissioning with ore will now commence and plant ramp up will take place over the coming months.
Initial concentrate is expected to be produced next week, with shippable quantities of commercial grade concentrate from December 2008.
Total pre-production capital expenditure is expected to be $814 million, compared to the budget of $758 million estimated prior to the transformer incident which delayed the project for 4 months. This includes all mining fleet costs, clearing and pre-stripping costs, the EPC Contractor’s cost to complete the 20Mtpa process plant, tails and water facilities and owners costs as well as operating consumables and additional mining activity, fixed costs necessarily incurred as a result of the delay and liquidated damages proceeds received from the EPC Contractor of $27 million. In addition, the delay in start-up insurance proceeds are currently being processed. The actual costs to complete the Project, had the fire incident not occurred, were in line with the original budget.
As reported in the results for the Quarter ended September 30, 2008, Equinox had cash resources of US$51.8 million and undrawn debt facilities of US$151.4 million plus a $45 million cost overrun facility. The outstanding capital commitments of the Company relating to the construction of the Lumwana Mine (which are incorporated in the expected total cost of $814 million) at September 30, 2008 were $55.1 million.
Mr Craig Williams, Equinox’s President and CEO commented, “Equinox is pleased to accept handover of the Lumwana process facilities and commence ore commissioning and production ramp up. We are very pleased to bring on line the largest copper mine on the African continent which will not only be a long term, low cost copper producer, but will make a major economic and social contribution to Zambia. I would personally like to thank our EPC Contractors Ausenco–Bateman, and pay particular tribute to Equinox management and employees whose outstanding efforts, project management skills and resolve have delivered a high quality asset at a remarkably low capital cost.”