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"Patience is being tested" at Equinox Minerals Ltd.'s (OTC:EQMIF) Lumwana project, according to UBS Securities analyst Onno Rutten.

Equinox announced last week that fire damage at the Zambia-based copper project will delay project completion to December 2008. It was expected to be completed by now.

Mr. Rutten noted that the delay is longer than he expected, and considers the news a "modest incremental negative." But he also wrote that the resulting start-up during Zambia's wet season could negatively impact the production ramp-up. He lowered his target to C$5.50 a share from C$5.75, and wrote that Equinox will likely receive the maximum compensation fee of C$28-million from its engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the delay.

At RBC Capital Markets, analyst Fraser Phillips cut his target more sharply, to C$4.50 a share from C$5.70.

In a note to clients, he wrote:

In our experience, mining shares generally do not perform well while starting up projects that make up a significant part of their [net asset value].

Mr. Phillips valued the company at 6.5 times estimated earnings per share for 2009 and 2010. He gave Equinox a lower multiple than most of its peers because of heightened political risk in Zambia.

Source: Equinox Minerals: Analysts Cut Price Targets on Zambia Fire Damage