The Stage 2 solvent extraction electro-winning (SXEW) operation remains within budget is currently ahead of schedule at 92% completion.
Construction of the SXEW plant is about 97% complete.
Agglomerated ore has been stacked onto heap leach cells while intermediate leach solution is being accumulated in the ponds in preparation for first cathode.
About 12,000 tonnes of copper cathode is expected to be produced in the 2014 calendar year.
It is also expected to produce 25,000 tonnes of copper cathode in its first full 12 months of operation and 50,000 tonnes per annum in subsequent years.
The Stage 2 SXEW Ore Reserves currently stand at about 666,000 tonnes of copper.
The Stage 2 site cash operating costs forecast a life of mine (LOM) average of $1.04/lb and a LOM average C3 cost (all-in cost, including capital expenditure) of less than US$1.75/lb.
It is envisaged that ore from Judeira and other deposits within the Kipoi Project area, and within the nearby 100%-owned Lupoto Project, will also be processed during the Stage 2 operations, providing additional returns and increasing the ore reserves available as feedstock to the Stage 2 Kipoi SXEW plant.
Increased resources from these deposits will potentially increase the mine life and/or the annual plant throughput.
Stage 1 Operations
During the quarter, 765,567 tonnes of material were moved to deliver 424,597 tonnes of high-grade ore averaging 5.9% copper and 162,770 of medium and low grade ore averaging 1.4% copper to the ROM stockpile at a stripping ratio of 0.3:1.
Ore throughput was 213,013 tonnes during the quarter. The copper head grade of 5.97% was within expectations and recovery of 50.7% for total copper production of 6,518 tonnes.
Copper production was below budget for January and February as the operating team implemented modifications to the HMS plant to reduce wear from the processing of abrasive material that has elevated levels of silica.
The HMS plant was not designed to process this material and it was originally intended to stockpile the elevated silica material as future feed to the SXEW plant.
However, this material presents an opportunity to bring forward an additional 24,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate and the operations team will commence processing the material during May.
The modifications to the HMS plant will be tested during May and June and further optimisation works are expected to result in production levels similar to the oxide ore previously processed.
A total of 30,968 tonnes of concentrate was sold during the quarter for revenue of $22.5 million at an average realised copper price of $6,621 per tonne. This generated an operating profit of $5.9 million.
Sales for the quarter were $22.5 million generating an operating profit of $5.9 million for a unit cost of $0.35 per pound of copper.
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