Capstone Extends Pinto Valley Mine Life to 2026

(all amounts in US dollars)

VANCOUVER, March 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - Capstone Mining Corp. ("Capstone") (TSX: CS) today announced the results of the Pre-Feasibility Study - Mine Life Extension ("PV2 PFS") for its wholly owned Pinto Valley Mine in Arizona, US, which extends the mine life by 8 years from 2018 to 2026.

Highlights

  • Average annual production for the first five years is 128.4 million pounds of copper contained in concentrate and 6.6 million pounds of copper cathode. Life of Mine ("LOM") annual production of 119.5 million pounds of copper contained in concentrate plus 6.3 million pounds of cathode copper, and 1.4 million pounds of molybdenum and 235,000 ounces of silver credited to concentrate annually.
  • After-tax net present value (NPV), discounted at 8%, of $738 million.
  • Expected LOM C1 cash costs1 are estimated to be $2.00 per pound of payable copper (net of copper cathodes, molybdenum and silver by-product credits).
  • The LOM strip ratio is 0.65:1.
  • Total sustaining capital costs estimated to be $187.9 million over 12.3 years.
  • Pinto Valley Mine will operate to 2026 under the PV2 PFS parameters, including Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves of 232 million tonnes at 0.33% copper.
  • With an economic cut-off grade ("COG") of 0.18% copper, the Mineral Resource has increased by 61% to 1,563 million tonnes at 0.30% copper from 968 million tonnes at 0.35% copper with a 0.25% COG published in December 2013. The contained copper within the Mineral Resource increases by 40%.
  • Capstone believes there is potential to extend the operational life beyond the PV2 reserve life if Mineral Resources not included in the PV2 mine plan can be successfully converted into Mineral Reserves. Capstone intends to commence engineering and economic studies to consider all remaining current Mineral Resources not included in the PV2 mine plan and their potential for development beyond 2026.

"The Pinto Valley PFS has validated the purchase price and confirms our position as a leading intermediate copper producer," said Darren Pylot, President and CEO of Capstone. "Completion of the PV2 PFS extends the mine life to 2026 and provides us with the platform to stabilize operations, gain efficiencies and gives us the opportunity to take a longer-term view towards the future of the Pinto Valley Mine in Arizona."

"The PV2 PFS does not include all the projected impact of the process improvements that are underway at the mine, which we expect to generate cost savings in the years ahead," continued Mr. Pylot. "As well as pursuing operating efficiencies, we have started the work required to evaluate a possible mine life extension beyond 2026 and a potential increase in throughput."

____________________________________________

1. This is an alternative performance measure; please see "Alternative Performance Measures" at the end of this release.

Pre-Feasibility Study

The PV2 PFS project was directed by Capstone with contributions from Kirkham Geosystems Ltd. (geology, Resource estimation), Independent Mining Consultants Inc. (reserve, geotechnical, mine design and schedule, equipment selection), KWM Consulting Inc. (metallurgy, mill operation), AMEC Environment & Infrastructure Inc. (tailings), Stantec (Infrastructure and PFS report compilation), SRK (US), Inc. (environmental), and Adam M Consulting Inc. (financial modelling). Personnel from each of these companies will be signing off as a Qualified Person ("QP") as defined in National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects of the Canadian Securities Administrators ("NI 43-101") for their specific responsibilities.

The Pinto Valley Mine is a conventional open pit operation, with drilling, blasting, loading and hauling. The mill operation consists of a primary, secondary, tertiary crushing system, six ball mills, and flotation concentration.  The mill produces a copper and molybdenum concentrate. Copper cathodes are produced through a SX/EW plant by leaching of run of mine ("ROM") material above 0.10% copper and below 0.18% copper grade.

The mine has been in operation since 1974 with three shutdown periods. Most recently the mine was restarted in December 2012. The mine is operated in imperial units (US) with production statistics converted to metric for reporting purposes.

Mineral Resources

Mineral Resource Estimate, March 2014, at a 0.18% Cu Cut-off Grade1, 2
  Metric
Tonnes
 millions 
 Copper 
%
 Molybdenum 
%
 Contained
Copper
M lbs
Contained
 Molybdenum
M lbs
Measured (M) 660.4 0.34 0.008 5,014.3 119.4
Indicated (I) 902.5 0.28 0.006 5,491.8 123.4
Total M&I 1,563.0 0.30 0.007 10,506 242.8
Inferred 58.2 0.23 0.005 298.5 6.8
  1. Mineral Resources are reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves.
  2. Totals may not sum exactly due to rounding.

The March 2014 Mineral Resource was estimated by Kirkham Geosystems Ltd. The updated Mineral Resource statement, based on additional drill hole information not included in the previous Mineral Resource Estimate, increased the Mineral Resource by 75.0 million tonnes from the last Mineral Resource Estimate completed in December 2013. The Mineral Resource Estimate includes the Mineral Reserve.

Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Mineral Resource Estimates do not account for mineability, selectivity, mining loss and dilution. These Mineral Resource Estimates include Inferred Mineral Resources that are normally considered too speculative geologically to have economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves. There is also no certainty that these Inferred Mineral Resources will be converted to Measured and Indicated categories through further drilling, or into Mineral Reserves, once economic considerations are applied.

Mineral Reserves

The Mineral Reserve evaluation is constrained by the permitted capacity of existing tailings facilities, thereby limiting the mine life to 12.3 years. The Mineral Reserve was developed by tabulating the contained measured and indicated (proven and probable) material inside of the designed pit at the mill cut-off grades.

 
Mineral Reserve Estimate, January 1, 20141,2,3
Classification   Ore   Cu   Moly   Contained
Copper
  Contained
Molybdenum
  M tonnes   %   %   M lbs   M lbs
Proven   218.97   0.33   0.008   1,593.1   38.6
Probable   13.25   0.33   0.008   96.4   2.3
Proven + Probable   232.22   0.33   0.008   1,689.5   41.0
  1. Economic inputs to the block model were $2.75 per pound copper, mining $2.02 per tonne moved, mill $5.50 per tonne processed, G&A $1.65 per tonne processed and an average copper recovery of 88%.
  2. Cut-off Grade - 0.18% Cu 2014-2022, excess ore below 0.20% Cu was stockpiled for processing in 2025-2026.  An internal cut-off grade of 0.17% Cu was applied in 2023-2025.
  3. QP - John Marek, Independent Mining Consultants Inc. 

The mine design was completed using standard open pit assumptions and slope design angles as defined by geotechnical consultants.

Mine Production Schedule

The PV2 project will extend production at the Pinto Valley Mine to 2026 from the BHP Billiton Ltd. ("BHPB") published Mineral Reserve which was being mined under a plan that operated until 2018. Mine production will increase from 22.6 million metric tonnes in 2014 to approximately 42.3 million metric tonnes in 2016 to 2019 and then decrease through to 2025. The PV2 LOM strip ratio is 0.65.

Pinto Valley Mine Schedule                                    
    Mill Ore   LG Stockpile at 0.18 to
0.20% Cu
  Leach at 0.10 to
0.18% Cu
  Waste   Total
Year Cut-off   Ore   Cu   Moly   LG Stkp   Cu   Moly   Leach   Cu   Material   Material
    Cu%   M tonnes   %   %   M tonnes   %   %   M tonnes   %   M tonnes   M tonnes
1 2014 0.22   18.25   0.39   0.008   1.090   0.20   0.007   2.185   0.15   1.048   22.573
2 2015 0.22   18.25   0.34   0.008   4.296   0.20   0.007   5.435   0.14   4.332   32.312
3 2016 0.20   18.98   0.38   0.008   1.809   0.19   0.004   9.106   0.15   12.379   42.275
4 2017 0.20   18.98   0.33   0.008   0.847   0.19   0.008   9.141   0.13   13.307   42.275
5 2018 0.20   18.98   0.33   0.009   3.781   0.19   0.007   8.548   0.15   10.965   42.275
6 2019 0.19   18.98   0.32   0.010   2.674   0.18   0.006   15.231   0.15   4.361   41.246
7 2020 0.20   18.98   0.33   0.011   2.350   0.19   0.005   7.355   0.14   0.788   29.474
8 2021 0.20   18.98   0.33   0.008   1.782   0.19   0.005   3.933   0.15   0.610   25.304
9 2022 0.18   18.98   0.32   0.006   -   -   -   3.746   0.14   0.309   23.035
10 2023 0.17   18.98   0.31   0.006   -   -   -   4.814   0.13   0.977   24.772
11 2024 0.17   18.98   0.35   0.007   -   -   -   1.129   0.14       -   20.110
12 2025 0.17   6.27   0.34   0.007                           6.270
TOTAL     213.59   0.34   0.008   18.629   0.19   0.006   70.623   0.14   49.076   351.919

Low grade ore (0.18-0.20% copper) will be stockpiled from 2014 to 2022 for planned processing in 2025 and 2026.  In 2023 to 2025 a breakeven cut-off grade of 0.17% copper is used. Material grading 0.10% to 0.18% copper (leach) will be stockpiled and leached. The leach solution will be sent to the existing SX/EW plant for the production of copper cathode. Waste material below 0.10% copper will be stored separately.

Ore production in the PV2 PFS is constrained, first by the permitted capacity of the tailings dam, and eventually would become further constrained by the surface ownership. There is a significant amount of additional Mineral Resource that could potentially be mined if the constraints were removed.

The PFS has identified the need for additional mining equipment from 2014 to 2017 to meet the increased production requirements, costing approximately $48 million.

 
Major Mining Equipment
    Current  
Fleet
  Additional  
Fleet
Drills 2 1
Cat 994 Loaders 3 -
Hydraulic Shovel - 2
Cat 789 15 4

Additional auxiliary fleet will also need to be purchased, which is included in the capital estimate.

Processing

Ore feed to the mill is planned to continue at 50,000 metric tonnes per day, or 18.2 million metric tonnes per year for the first two years followed by an increase to 52,000 metric tonnes per day or 18.9 million metric tonnes per year for the remaining life of the mine. Low grade ore that will be stockpiled earlier in the mine life will be processed in 2025 and 2026. Metal recoveries average 88.0% for copper and 42.8% for molybdenum.

 
Mill Ore
Year Cut-off Ore Cu Moly
    Cu% M tonnes % %
1 2014 0.22 18.250 0.39 0.008
2 2015 0.22 18.250 0.34 0.008
3 2016 0.20 18.980 0.38 0.008
4 2017 0.20 18.980 0.33 0.008
5 2018 0.20 18.980 0.33 0.009
6 2019 0.19 18.980 0.32 0.010
7 2020 0.20 18.980 0.33 0.011
8 2021 0.20 18.980 0.33 0.008
9 2022 0.18 18.980 0.32 0.006
10 2023 0.17 18.980 0.31 0.006
11 2024 0.17 18.980 0.35 0.007
12 2025 Pit-Stk 18.980 0.24 0.006
13 2026 0.18 5.918 0.19 0.006
Total     232.219 0.33 0.008

Payable copper production will vary from 115 million pounds to 140 million pounds per year, averaging 119.4 million pounds per year, until processing of lower grade ore begins in 2025. Silver metal in concentrate will average 212,000 payable ounces annually.

Contained and Payable Copper

    Contained
Copper
  Payable Copper
    Concentrate   Concentrate   Cathode   Total
Year   M lbs    M lbs   M lbs   M lbs
2014   140.0   135.1   6.2   141.3
2015   118.7   114.5   6.3   120.8
2016   141.9   136.9   6.7   143.6
2017   120.5   116.3   6.8   123.1
2018   120.9   116.7   7.1   123.8
2019   115.9   111.9   7.5   119.3
2020   122.2   117.9   7.7   125.6
2021   120.5   116.3   7.3   123.6
2022   118.0   113.9   6.8   120.7
2023   112.6   108.6   6.6   115.2
2024   129.7   125.2   6.4   131.6
2025   87.4   84.3   6.0   90.3
2026   21.6   20.9   5.5   26.4
2027     -   5.3   5.3
2028   -   -   5.2   5.2
2029   -   -   5.0   5.0
2030   -   -   4.9   4.9

The PV2 PFS assumes that the copper concentrate will be sold 10% domestically and 90% internationally.  Molybdenum production will average 1.4 million pounds per year in concentrate through the life of the mine.  This concentrate will be sold locally. Copper cathode production will average 6.3 million pounds per year through the life of the mine. Cathodes will be sold locally.

Infrastructure

Pinto Valley Mine has existing infrastructure to support operational needs for the existing and PV2 operations.  Minor upgrades to mine maintenance facilities have been identified to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the operation. In the open pit operational area, explosives facilities, power lines, pipelines, and perimeter drainage ditches will need to be relocated during 2014 and 2015.

Capital Cost Estimate

The total PV2 life of mine project sustaining capital cost estimate is summarized below:

             
PV2 PFS - Summary of Capital Costs $M            
      2014     Total LOM
Mine Equipment     21.1     47.6
Mine Infrastructure and Mine Maintenance     5.4     13.0
Concentrator and SX/EW     8.5     23.5
Tailings and Water     2.7     41.3
Other Infrastructure     1.5     51.2
G&A and Engineering Studies     7.6     11.3
Total     46.8     187.9

Operating Cost Estimate

Summary of Average Life of Mine Operating Costs
Opex  
Mining Cost $/tonne mined 2.18
Mining Cost $/tonne milled 3.48
Milling Cost $/tonne milled 5.35
G&A Cost $/tonne milled 1.53
Total $/tonne milled 10.36
SX/EW Cost $/lb Cu cathode 1.80
     

Economics

Summary of Inputs into Economic Model
Key Assumptions
Cu Price - average 2014-2022   $/lb   3.15
Cu Price - long-term  (2023+)   $/lb   2.75
Mo Price   $/lb   12.5
Ag Price   $/oz   20.0
Copper concentrate grade - Cu   %   27.5%
Copper payable   %   96.5%
Copper treatment charge   $/dmt   85
         

       
Financial Analysis     $M
Copper Revenue     4,656
Moly Revenue     210
Silver Revenue     52
Total Revenue     4,918
Site Costs     -2,600
Conc. Transport, TC/RCs     -716
Operating Cash Flow     1,602
Sustaining Capital Costs     -188
Closure Costs     -129
Net Cash Flow, Pre-Tax, Undiscounted     1,285
NPV (8%) Pre-Tax     931
Taxes Payable     -274
Net Cash Flow, Post-Tax, Undiscounted     1,011
NPV (8%) Post-Tax     738

 

Sensitivities
Parameter or Variation   After Tax
    NPV   NPV
    @ 0%   @ 8.0%
    ($M)   ($M)
Copper Price        
-20%   306   254
-10%   682   512
Base Case   1,011   738
10%   1,324   952
20%   1,620   1,155
Total Operating Costs        
-20%   1,415   1,011
-10%   1,221   880
Base Case   1,011   738
10%   785   585
20%   537   418
         

 Permitting

Extension in mine life for PV2 will require amendments to the existing Aquifer Protection Permit ("APP") issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality ("ADEQ") to add proposed low grade and waste dumps as discharge facilities. A Plan of Operations is currently under review with the US Forest Service related to a consolidation of permit renewals required for the current operation of Pinto Valley. The scope of PV2 does not require any changes to this application. The impact on the closure plan will also be considered as part of the review, but is not expected to be material.

Technical Report

The full PV2 PFS NI 43-101 Technical Report will be filed under Capstone's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com within 45 days of the date of this news release.

2014 Operating and Capital Guidance - Pinto Valley

Following is the 2014 production and capital guidance table for Pinto Valley and for Capstone total production revised now to include Pinto Valley. Capstone expects to produce 102,000 tonnes (±5%) of copper in concentrates from its Pinto Valley, Cozamin and Minto mines.

         
  Pinto Valley Cozamin Minto Total
Tonnes milled (millions) 18.2 1.2 1.4 20.8
Copper grade (%) 0.39 1.85 1.49 0.55
Copper recovery (%) 88.5 93.4 92.4 89.0
 
Production (contained in concentrates)
Copper (tonnes) 63,500 20,000 18,500 102,000
Copper cathode (tonnes) 2,800 - - 2,800
Zinc (tonnes) - 9,000 - 9,000
Molybdenum (000s lbs) 660 - - 660
Lead (tonnes) - 1,700 - 1,700
Silver (million ounces) 0.3 1.6 0.2 2.1
Gold (ounces) - - 17,670 17,670
 
C1 cash costs per pound of payable
copper produced net of by-product
credits and selling costs1
 $1.90-$2.00   $1.30-$1.40   $2.45-$2.55   $1.90-$2.00 
  1. This is an alternative performance measure please see "Alternative Performance Measure" at the end of this release.

                 
2014 Capital Expenditure Guidance1 $M                
    Pinto Valley   Cozamin   Minto   Total
Sustaining   $22.0   $18.0   $17.4   $57.4
PV2 Capital   24.8   -   -   24.8
Brownfield Exploration   -   3.0   -   3.0
Total 2014 Budgeted Capital Expenditures   $46.8   $21.0   $17.4   $85.2
  1. Does not include Santo Domingo or Kutcho development projects or greenfield exploration.

Major sustaining capital expenditures at Pinto Valley in 2014 include $8.4 million for mill and SX/EW, $7.4 million for studies, IT and accounting system changes and other, $2.7 million for tailings and water management and

$3.5 million for mining equipment and sustaining. The implementation of all recommendations in the PV2 PFS are budgeted to be $24.8 million in 2014, subject to board approval.

About Capstone Mining Corp.

Capstone Mining Corp. is a Canadian base metals mining company, committed to the responsible development of our assets and the environments in which we operate. We are focused on copper, with three producing mines; the Pinto Valley copper-molybdenum mine located in Arizona, US, the Cozamin copper-silver-zinc-lead mine in Zacatecas State, Mexico and the Minto copper-gold-silver mine in Yukon, Canada. In addition, Capstone has two development projects; the large scale 70% owned Santo Domingo copper-iron-gold project in Region III, Chile, in partnership with Korea Resources Corporation, and the 100% owned Kutcho copper-zinc-gold-silver project in British Columbia, Canada, as well as exploration properties in Chile and Mexico. Using our cash flow and strong balance sheet as a platform, Capstone's strategy is to continue to grow with Mineral Resource and Reserve expansions and exploration, and through acquisitions in politically stable, mining-friendly regions. We will pace our growth with our financial capacity, ensuring we retain, as a priority, sufficient financial flexibility to meet the requirements of our existing operations and our committed development projects, while maintaining an adequate cushion to deal with market volatility and operating risks inherent in the mining industry. Our headquarters are in Vancouver, Canada and we are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Further information is available at www.capstonemining.com

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This document may contain "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 (collectively, "forward-looking statements"). These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this document and Capstone Mining Corp. (the "Company") does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements, except as required under applicable securities legislation.

Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and reflect Company management's expectations or beliefs regarding future events and include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the estimation of Mineral Reserves and Mineral Resources, the realization of Mineral Reserve Estimates, the timing and amount of estimated future production, costs of production, capital expenditures, success of mining operations, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, title disputes or claims and limitations on insurance coverage. In certain cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "outlook", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved" or the negative of these terms or comparable terminology. In this document, certain forward-looking statements are identified by words including "may", "future", "expected", "intends", "guidance" and "estimates". By their very nature forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among others, risks related to changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future prices of resources; possible variations in ore Reserves; grade or recovery rates; accidents; dependence on key personnel; labour pool constraints; labour disputes; delays in obtaining governmental approvals or financing or in the completion of development or construction activities; our ability to integrate new acquisitions into our operations; counterparty risks associate with sales of our metals; foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations; accuracy of Mineral Reserve Estimates; changes in general economic conditions; increased operating and capital costs; operating in foreign jurisdictions with risk of changes to governmental regulation; compliance with government regulation; reliance on approvals, licenses and permits from governmental authorities; impact of climatic conditions; limitations inherent in our insurance coverage; land reclamation and mine closure obligations; increasing energy prices and other risks of the mining industry as well as those factors detailed from time to time in the Company's interim and annual financial statements and management's discussion and analysis of those statements, all of which are filed and available for review under the Company's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. The Company provides no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

Quality Assurance and National Instrument 43-101 Compliance

Gregg Bush, P. Eng., Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Capstone, a QP under NI 43-101, reviewed and approved all Technical Information in this news release.  The following QP's will author the technical report: Mel Lawson, P.E. of Stantec, Garth Kirkham, P.Geo. of Kirkham Geosystems Ltd., John Marek P.E. of Independent Mining Consultants, Inc., Ken Majors P.Eng. of KWM Consulting Inc, Tony Freiman, P.E. of AMEC Inc., Adam Majorkiewicz, P.Eng of Adam M Consulting Inc. and Cori Hoag C.P.G. of SRK.

Based on the Mineral Resource Estimate, a standard methodology for pit limit analysis, mining sequence, and cut-off grade optimization, including application of mining dilution, process recovery, economic criteria and physical mine and plant operating constraints, has been followed to design the Pinto Valley pit and determine the Mineral Reserve Estimate summarized in the Mineral Reserve table.

Alternative Performance Measures

The item marked with (1) "C1 Cash Cost per Pound of Payable Copper Produced" is an Alternative Performance Measure. This performance measure is included because this statistic is a key performance measure that management uses to monitor performance. Management uses this statistic to assess how the Company is performing to plan and to assess the overall effectiveness and efficiency of mining operations. This performance measure does not have a meaning within IFRS and, therefore, amounts presented may not be comparable to similar data presented by other mining companies. This performance measure should not be considered in isolation as a substitute for measures of performance in accordance with IFRS.

Cautionary Note to United States Investors

This news release contains disclosure that has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of Canadian securities laws, which differ from the requirements of US securities laws. Without limiting the foregoing, this news release may refer to technical reports that use the terms "Indicated" and "Inferred" Resources. US investors are cautioned that, while such terms are recognized and required by Canadian securities laws, the SEC does not recognize them. Under US standards, mineralization may not be classified as a "Reserve" unless the determination has been made that the mineralization could be economically and legally produced or extracted at the time the Reserve determination is made. US investors are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of Indicated Resources will ever be converted into Reserves. US investors should also understand that "Inferred Resources" have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence and as to whether they can be mined legally or economically. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of "Inferred Resources" will ever be upgraded to a higher category. Therefore, US investors are also cautioned not to assume that all or any part of Inferred Resources exist, or that they can be mined legally or economically. Accordingly, information concerning descriptions of mineralization and resources contained in this news release may not be comparable to information made public by US companies subject to the reporting and disclosure requirements of the SEC. 

 

 

 

SOURCE Capstone Mining Corp.



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