TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/06/13 -- Aura Minerals Inc. ("Aura Minerals" or the "Company") (TSX: ORA) announces an update on the mine and plant expansion at its wholly-owned Aranzazu copper project ("Aranzazu") in Zacatecas State, Mexico. All amounts are presented in United States dollars unless otherwise noted.
On July 18, 2012, the Company released the results of the Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") for Aranzazu, prepared by AMC Mining Consultants (Canada) Ltd. ("AMC"). The PEA evaluated a feed rate expansion at Aranzazu from the current 2,600 tonnes per day ("tpd") to 4,000 tpd and 5,600 tpd, and recommended an expansion to 4,000 tpd which it determined would result in a net present value of $200 million to enable the Company to take the project forward. The PEA also included an expected capital requirement of $107 million for the expansion which included installation and commissioning of an arsenic control facility using partial roasting technology (the "roaster") as the selected long-term solution to decrease arsenic levels to coincide with the expansion.
The Company announces the following updates to the Aranzazu mine and mill expansion:
-- Basic engineering (65% completed to date) now fixes the feed rate expansion of 4,500 tpd and anticipates completion of the expansion by the second quarter of 2015. The engineering is expected to be completed in August 2013 and includes the design for an upgrade to the fresh water system, a redesign of the coarse ore stockpile feeders and a high capacity tailings thickener to improve water recovery;-- The expanded operation, with roaster capability, expected to have a remaining life of 16 years and estimated life-of-mine cash costs per payable pound of copper of $1.15 to $1.25;-- The Company expects the estimated capital requirement of $113 million (including a contingency of $12 million) is expected to be funded by a combination of internally generated cash flows and external financing and which is allocated amongst the following phases; -- $41 million for mine development, which enables access to higher grade ores and the phasing out of the open pit activities during 2014, and increases production to approximately 25 million pounds per year; -- $33 million for the roaster, which is expected to result in substantially reduced arsenic-related treatment and refining charges and penalties; and -- $39 million for plant expansion (additional mill, paste-fill plant and thickeners) which is expected to increase production to an expected 35 million pounds of copper per year;-- The roaster was selected and the purchase contract awarded in February 2013 with an estimated 46 week delivery time. The roaster is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2014; and-- The deposit continues to remain open at depth and on strike therefore allowing potential for further future expansion.
Jim Bannantine, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer stated: "Since the publication of the Preliminary Economic Assessment, Aura Minerals has made excellent progress on the engineering and procurement for Aranzazu's roaster and plant expansion and has advanced underground mine development and expansion. Current priorities include procurement, installation and commissioning of the roaster over the remainder of this year and early next year and continued day by day development and expansion of underground mining. Engineering and subsequent procurement for the plant expansion are expected to allow for installation of additional equipment late next year after the underground mine expansion reaches capacity to feed the expanded plant and the roaster is up and running.