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Lumwana production below expectations

Crushed material
stockpile and plant
conveyor system
at Equinox’s Lumwana
copper mine
Toronto, Canada — MININGREVIEW.COM — 06 July 2009 – Canadian and Australian-listed Equinox Minerals Limited – an international mine development and exploration company focused on Zambia “’ reports that preliminary production statistics for its Lumwana copper project for the quarter ended 30 June 2009 were well below expectations, and only a marginal improvement on production results for the first quarter of the year.

In announcing this here, the company pointed that during this period, the Lumwana mine had still been in the ramp up phase for both mine and process plant operations.

It added that key contributing factors to the disappointing Q2-2009 results had included: availability of the mine truck and shovel mobile equipment fleet, which still needed to improve; shovel and truck productivity and cycle times, which also needed to improve further; significant tonnages of transitional (mixed sulphide-oxide) ore had been encountered, where primary sulphide ore had been expected; and the pits currently being developed on the Malundwe copper ore-body had included uranium zones which had not been treated by the copper concentrator and had been effectively classified as ‘waste’ to the copper project.

Equinox said the ore body-related issues were expected to improve in the coming months as the mine moved below the weathering profile and the uranium zones, and into more consistent sulphide ore. Availability and productivity parameters continued to improve and management was developing, as a matter of urgency, strategies to further increase productivity and mine output. These strategies included engaging specialist consultants to advise on opportunities to improve productivity, and the company was intensifying its internal training programmes to improve the workforce skills and expertise.

Management is currently reviewing 2009 annual production and cost targets and anticipates including this updated target information with the company’s Q2-2009 results, which are due to be released during August 2009.

CEO Craig Williams commented: “While the various issues that have impacted production at Lumwana could have been managed on their own with minor implications, the compounding effect of these within a short space of time has presented significant limitations to maintaining suitable ore supply to fully realise our large processing capacity. Importantly, considerable gains were achieved on a number of fronts during the second quarter.”