Vancouver, British Columbia — March 4, 2013 – Mercator Minerals Ltd. (TSX:ML) (“Mercator” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on activities at its El Pilar copper project (“Project”) in northern Sonora, Mexico. Ongoing activities include continuing to de-risk the Project through additional metallurgical testing, which has already commenced, and completion of the final environmental permits for constructing the power line to the Project. All other permits for construction are already in place.
In October 2012, the Company filed under the Company’s issuer profile on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) an updated El Pilar Feasibility Study (“Study”), a National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects of the Canadian Securities Administration (“NI 43-101”) compliant technical report for the Project. The Study, using a average life-of-mine copper price of $2.82 per pound, indicated an after-tax, discounted at 8%, net present value (“NPV”) of $416.0 million; an internal rate of return (“IRR”), after-tax, of 36.6%; and a payback period of 1.8 years. The Project has an expected average life-of-mine total cash costs* of $1.34 per pound of payable copper and offers low capital intensity, with initial capital of $280.0 million to produce life-of-mine (“LOM”) average annual production of 79.3 million pounds of copper cathode. During the 13-year mine life, the Project is expected to produce 998.3 million pounds of copper cathode, and has a relatively short 15 month construction time table.
Further Metallurgical Testing
Although extensive external and internal metallurgical studies have already been conducted for the Project, including over 100 column tests and two larger scale run-of-mine crib tests, additional metallurgical column testing has commenced to evaluate the potential to attain the same projected copper recoveries (56.9% over the Project’s LOM) while reducing acid consumption. These column tests will be conducted by managing solution application rates and raffinate pH, and are designed to build on positive results from similar testing conducted in 2012 and noted in the Study.
“We believe that the planned additional metallurgical testing has the opportunity to significantly improve Project economics and increase flexibility due to the potential for lower life-of-mine acid consumption rates,” comments Bruce McLeod, President and CEO of Mercator. “Approximately, 28% of the initial capital costs of the Project are acid plant related and the potential to reduce the capital associated with the acid plant portion of the Project could have a significant positive impact on our ability to finance the Project.”
Over the past few months, the Company has received two environmental permits required to commence Project construction and mining:
- Explosives permit from SEDENA (Mexican Federal Government National Defense Ministry), and,
- Final water permit from CONAGUA (Mexican Federal Government National Water Commission). This water permit is for an additional 1.2 million cubic meters of water per year, bringing the total to 3.4 million cubic meters a year, the total Project requirement.
Outstanding environmental permits required include:
- Change of Land Use (“CUS”) Permit and the Environmental Impact Assessment Study (“MIA”) to construct the 115 KW power line to the Project. The processes to obtain both of these permits are well advanced, including recent filing of the CUS, with approvals expected in the second quarter of 2013.
All of the permits necessary for the commencement of construction of the mine have been received.
*Alternative Performance Measure
This press release refers to “cash costs” which is not a performance measure recognized as having a standardized meaning under IFRS. The Company discloses this performance measure (marked with an *), which have been derived from our financial models because we believe they are of assistance in understanding our projected results of operations and financial position and are meant to provide further information about the Project’s financial results. This performance measure may not be comparable to similar data presented by other mining companies. This information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measure of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS.
Quality Assurance/Quality Control
Michael Broch, BSc, Geology, MSc, Economic Geology, FAusIMM, Mercator’s VP Exploration and Evaluations, a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101, supervised the preparation of and verified the technical information contained in this release.
About Mercator Minerals Ltd.
Mercator Minerals Ltd., a TSX listed Canadian mining company with the potential to have one of the fastest growing base metal profiles in its peer group, is a copper, molybdenum and silver producer with a diversified portfolio of high quality assets in the USA and Mexico. Mercator provides investors exposure to current copper, molybdenum and silver production from the large tonnage long life Mineral Park Mine in Arizona, as well as mid-term exposure to potential copper production from its El Pilar deposit in the State of Sonora in northern Mexico and longer term exposure of molybdenum and copper through the potential development of the El Creston deposit also in the State of Sonora in northern Mexico.
For further information please visit www.mercatorminerals.com or contact:
D. Bruce McLeod, P.Eng.
President & CEO
David Jan, CA
Head of Investor Relations & Communications
On Behalf of the Board of Directors
MERCATOR MINERALS LTD.
D. Bruce McLeod, P.Eng.,
President and CEO
National Instrument 43-101 Compliance
Unless otherwise indicated, Mercator has prepared the technical information in this news release (“Technical Information”) based on information contained in the technical reports, news releases, material change reports and quarterly and annual consolidated financial statements and management discussion and analysis (collectively the “Disclosure Documents”) available under the Company’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Each Disclosure Document was prepared by or under the supervision of a qualified person (a “Qualified Person”) as defined under NI 43-101. Readers are encouraged to review the full text of the Disclosure Documents that qualifies the Technical Information. Readers are advised that mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. The Disclosure Documents are each intended to be read as a whole, and sections should not be read or relied upon out of context. The Technical Information is subject to the assumptions and qualifications contained in the Disclosure Documents.
Forward Looking Information
This news release contains certain forward-looking information within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. This information and these statements, referred to herein as “forward-looking statements”, are not historical facts, are made as of the date of this press release and include without limitation, statements regarding discussions of the Company’s business strategy, future plans, projections, objectives, estimates and forecasts and statements as to management’s expectations with respect to, among other things, financing plans, future production, mine development, mine operations, mine and power costs, estimating grade levels, future recovery levels, future production levels, capital costs, costs savings, cash and total costs of production of copper, projected mine life, completion dates for the development of the El Pilar Project, future copper prices (including the long-term estimated prices used in calculating the Company’s El Pilar mineral reserves), end-use demand for copper, and anticipated timing of production at the El Pilar Project and discussions of future plans, projections and objectives. In addition, estimates of mineral reserves and mineral resources may constitute forward looking statements to the extent they involve estimates of the mineralization that will be encountered if a property is developed. These forward-looking statements involve numerous risks and uncertainties and actual results may vary. Important factors that may cause actual results to vary include without limitation, certain transactions, certain approvals, changes in commodity and power prices, changes in interest and currency exchange rates, risks inherent in exploration results, timing and success, inaccurate geological and metallurgical assumptions (including with respect to the size, grade and recoverability of mineral reserves and resources), unanticipated operational difficulties (including failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications, cost escalation, unavailability of materials, equipment and third-party contractors, delays in the receipt of government approvals, industrial disturbances or other job action, and unanticipated events related to health, safety and environmental matters), political risk, social unrest, and changes in general economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets. In making the forward-looking statements in this news release, the Company has applied several material assumptions, including without limitation, the assumptions that: (1) market fundamentals will result in sustained copper demand and prices; (2) the construction and operation of the El Pilar Project will proceed and will continue to be viable operationally and economically and as expected; and (3) any financing needed will be available on reasonable terms. The risks and assumptions are described in more detail in the Company’s Annual Information Form, audited financial statements and MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2011 on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. The Company does not assume the obligation to revise or update these forward-looking statements after the date of this news release or to revise them to reflect the occurrence of future unanticipated events, except as may be required under applicable securities laws.
Note to US Investors
This news release has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the securities laws in effect in Canada, which differ from the requirements of United States securities laws. Information contained in this news release may contain descriptions of the Company’s mineral deposits that may not be comparable to similar information made public by U.S. companies subject to the reporting and disclosure requirements under the United States federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.