VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/10/13 -- Mercator Minerals Ltd. (TSX: ML) ("Mercator" or the "Company") is pleased to provide an update on on-going recent activities at its wholly-owned Mineral Park Mine ("Mineral Park"), including production results for the three months ended March 31, 2013. Most importantly, recent changes to the grinding circuit have resulted in sustained throughput increases of approximately 20% to average 54,700 tons per day ("tpd").
"We are very encouraged with the grinding circuit optimizations made in the mill late in the first quarter," stated Bruce McLeod, Mercator's President and CEO. "The improvements have increased grinding efficiency by passing grinding load from the SAG mills to the previously underutilized ball mills and by optimizing the internal configuration of the SAG mills. Early results indicate average throughput rates have increased by approximately 20% over the expected ore grind index assumed in our 2013 mine plan, while maintaining metal recovery rates at above design rates."
"Our strategy of working safely, increasing productivity, and reducing costs throughout the entire Company is starting to deliver benefits as our financial position stabilizes," continues Mr. McLeod. "Productivity improvements and cost reductions are positioning us to unlock shareholder value."
Mineral Park Activities Update
Productivity Improvement Initiatives
At Mineral Park, average mill throughput rates have recently increased due to the optimization of the internal configuration of the two SAG mills and the changing of the pebble handling processes by feeding a higher proportion of the recycled pebbles directly into the four ball mills. As a result of these optimizations (refer to chart below), since March 21, 2013, average throughput rates, as measured by tons per hour ("tph"), when compared to harder ore blends (as measured by ore grind index) have increased significantly. Over this period, mill throughput rates, on a sustained basis, at an average ore grind index of 11.3, have averaged 54,700 tpd, which is 9% above the stated design capacity of 50,000 tpd.
Chart: Increased throughput rates
Click on the following link to the chart: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/ml-0410-chart.pdf
As a result of the recent throughput improvements, the Company is reviewing the scope and requirement for the $5 million pebble crusher included in the previously announced $13.7 million capital expenditures program for 2013.
Other optimization initiatives that have contributed to the increase in average mill throughput include: (1) implementing a hard ore and zinc modelling program that has increased ore blending options to manage hardness and zinc content, and (2) implementing a blasting optimization program that has reduced oversize ore going to the primary crusher and entering the mill. Two additional haul trucks, with a third expected to arrive in June 2013, were commissioned late in the first quarter of 2013 and have helped increase flexibility in ore blending options.
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