Table 1: Caribou Mill – key commissioning & preliminary production statistics (figures rounded)
Caribou commissioning continued to advance through November, achieving steady, ongoing, month-to-month site improvements for the core metrics. Importantly both mill throughput and recoveries using planned run-of-mine feed grades continue to display positive trends versus both October and commissioning year-to-date (Table 1). This has resulted in increased zinc and lead concentrate production that is purchased by our offtake partner Glencore.
Mill commissioning remains ahead of schedule and has transitioned seamlessly to owner-operated production at the end of November. Trevali’s consultant metallurgist Holland and Holland Engineering continues to remain on site to further assist in ongoing Caribou mill optimization. Additionally, Glencore’s corporate technical support team has been providing valued, ongoing input to assist the current commissioning ramp-up program.
The key focus during December remains on mill throughput and recoveries, in addition to grind optimization, zinc and lead circuit pumping enhancements, and ongoing copper circuit metallurgical test work.
Underground (“UG”) operations continue to ramp up according to schedule with production increasing to approximately 2,133-tonnes-per-day (tpd) in November (versus a 1,950 tpd rate during October). Mining dilution dropped to 14% in November, versus 20% in October and 22-25% in the 2014 Preliminary Economic Assessment mine plan, due to ongoing optimization initiatives including modified stope blast sequencing to reduce the time vertical walls are exposed and improved stope mucking cycle time to reduce the time vertical walls are exposed prior to stope backfilling. Additionally, recent arrival of the larger-capacity UG haul fleet is allowing UG operations to remain on track to meet the end-of-quarter production goal of 2,500 tpd.
Trevali Mining President and CEO, Mark D. Cruise, stated:
Our Caribou mine and mill teams continue to ramp-up operations in the current commissioning process, delivering the highest monthly zinc and lead concentrate output to date in November. Based on current throughput and recovery trends for both the mill and UG operations we are on track to declare commercial production in Q1-2016, approximately a full-quarter ahead of schedule. On a macro-scale, zinc continues to display the strongest short-term fundamentals of all the base metals (perhaps with the exception of lead, of which we also produce significant quantities). Global zinc mine closures have been accelerating however the full impact of well documented concentrate supply constraints has yet to be felt. LME zinc warehouse drawdown rates have recently increased to almost double its normal pace while spot treatment charges have been dropping in conjunction with announced smelter closures globally, suggestive of a tightening zinc concentrate market. Given Trevali’s strong zinc exposure and leverage, the Company is well positioned to crystallize value from strengthening in zinc (and lead) prices going forward.
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