is not gold … but copper, especially if you are Equinox Minerals (ASX – EQN) / (TSE – EQN). Equinox is an international exploration and mine development company, dual listed on the Australian & Canadian stock exchanges.
Equinox has exploration activity being undertaken in Zambia and interests in Australia and Peru. The company is focused on operating its 100% owned Lumwana Copper Project in Zambia. The Lumwana Copper Mine will produce an average of 172,000 tonnes per year of copper metal contained in concentrates for the first 6 years of its 37 year mine life. The 20 Mtpa plant is now fully operational and production commenced in early December 2008. Full production will be reached in 2009 at which time Lumwana will be Africa’s largest copper mine.
On 3rd December, Lumwana gave its first copper concentrates, with a concentration grade of 41%, fulfilling a 9 year odyssey for Equinox & its CEO Craig Williams :
Equinox is pleased to accept handover of the Lumwana process facilitiers & commence ore commissioning & production ramp up. We are very pleased to bring online the lasrgest copper mine on the African continent, which will not only be a long term, low cost producer, but will make a major social & economic contribution to Zambia.
Although there is a global slump in commodities, Equinox would seem to be in a good position, compared to many competitors. The Lumwana mine allows extraction with a production cost of $0.80 per lb, with todays copper spot price of $1.46, things could be better & according to Williams they are. Equinox managed to hedge production last year, which allows them to sell for the next two years at a minimum of $2.00, the hedge book giving a $300M edge to Equinox for its term, nice play & caps off.
An interview with Williams can be seen here, from the Business News Network, where he outlines the company strategy regarding Lumwana. (personally love the way the interviewer (Canadian) says aboot !!)
In addition, Equinox has completed a Uranium Feasibility Study (“UFS”) investigating the onsite treatment of discrete and high grade uranium mineralization contained within the Lumwana copper pitshells. The study confirmed the viability of onsite uranium treatment. Should Equinox be successful in negotiating viable yellowcake off-take agreements and secure the requisite project capital financing, the Company expects plant construction to take 18-24 months.
Equinox believes that at Lumwana there exists significant opportunity to expand and optimize the concentrator and mine throughput rate as well as opportunity to assess and evaluate the additional near mine deposits discovered to date. Equinox maintains an active “pipeline” of exploration projects on its Zambian tenements which presently total some 6,284 km2. In particular, exploration of targets on properties near Lumwana is focused on resource definition which, if successful, could deliver additional ore to Lumwana Mill.