Trevali Mining Corporation ("Trevali" or the "Company") provides a status update on construction and mine re-start activities at its wholly-owned Caribou polymetallic mine and mill complex located in the Bathurst Mining Camp of northeastern New Brunswick, Canada.
Both surface and underground development programs at Caribou have advanced significantly during the first quarter including the recent commencement of mining activities. The project status remains on schedule for start-up commissioning in the second quarter of 2015. A summary of key current activities is provided below:
- The milling circuit is predominantly refurbished and ready for operation with the new 3,000-tonne-per-day Semi-Autogenous-Grinding (SAG) mill installed and aligned (Figure 1). The two Ball Mills have been refurbished and will be available for commissioning following upcoming replacement of upgraded trunnion seals. The three M1000 IsaMills have been inspected and are in excellent condition (Figure 2). The Company has proactively replaced motor bearings following which they will be available for commissioning.
- The Zinc and Lead flotation circuits and associated pumps have been refurbished or replaced and are ready for commissioning. The Copper circuit design has been completed, tendered, with the majority of equipment sourced (from the former Brunswick-12 Mill) and on-site. During the commissioning period the Company intends to initially focus on the established Zinc and Lead (Silver) recovery circuits following which it will commission the new Copper circuit.
- In order to potentially fast-track mill commissioning and technically de-risk start-up, Trevali's mill operations team recently travelled to Australia to visit partner Glencore's Mount Isa and McArthur River zinc operations for knowledge transfer opportunities in IsaMill operations, fine grind flotation performance, maintenance practices and trouble-shooting. Additionally, experienced Glencore IsaMill operational specialists will be made available to assist Trevali's technical team onsite at Caribou during the upcoming mill commissioning and ramp-up. Trevali's team also took the opportunity to examine and discuss various other potential post-commissioning opportunities with their Glencore counterparts.
- DRA Americas Inc., a South African specialist metallurgy and plant operations group, has also been retained to provide additional expert support to the Caribou team as we commence mill commissioning and metallurgical optimization going forward. The DRA team has mobilized to site and is currently working on enhancing the mill maintenance programs in order to maximize equipment availability both during and post commissioning periods.
To view "Figure 1: Newly installed 3,000-tonne-per-day SAG mill at Caribou Mine," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/trevali_mc_march30_figure01.pdf
To view "Figure 2: Three M1000 IsaMills installed at Trevali's Caribou mill," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/trevali_mc_march30_figure02.pdf
- Initial underground mineral production has commenced with blasting of the first scheduled stope and transport of mineralized mill-feed to the surface stockpile. There is currently an estimated 18,000 tonnes on the Coarse Mill-Feed Pad with this amount increasing on a daily basis (Figure 3). Based on experienced gained during the very successful Santander Plant commissioning in Peru, the Company plans to build a significant stockpile of mineralized material (approximately 60-80,000 tonnes) over the interim period prior to commencing mill commissioning in Q2.
- Approximately 3-years of underground development is currently in place: In detail Ramp, Level rehabilitation and access to the first four production zones are now 100% complete and rehabilitation of the fifth zone is approximately 80% complete. There is currently approximately 1 million tonnes of mineralized material available for production.
- The construction of an underground ramp connection to the existing conveyor portal (approximately 400 metres of development) has been completed and is anticipated to result in significant operational efficiencies by reducing the underground haul distance to within approximately 100 metres of the Fine Mill-Feed Bins versus the previous approximately 1.5-km surface haul route. It is anticipated that this will decrease haul costs (shorter haul using larger trucks), improve underground fleet availability in addition to improving winter production capabilities.
- The mine is now approximately 80% dewatered, based on volume, with approximately 100 vertical metres remaining. Upgrading of the water treatment plant and settling ponds is underway to roughly double capacity of Water Treatment Plant from 600-gallons-per-minute to plus-1200-gallons-per-minute in order to provide greater flexibility in water management going forward.
To view "Figure 3: Caribou mill feed stockpile of approximately 18,000 tonnes," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/trevali_mc_march30_figure03.pdf
All critical surface works required for initial commissioning have been completed. Additional work will occur post-seasonal Spring melt.
Caribou staff and contractor numbers have ramped up in accordance with mine and mill activity levels as operations approach commissioning. Total site personnel (comprised of Trevali Caribou employees, staff, and contractors) currently number approximately 230.
Total anticipated site personnel (both employees/staff and contractors) once operations are fully ramped is expected to be approximately 300.
FIRST NATIONS TRAINING PROGRAMS
As part of Trevali's ongoing Impact Benefit Agreement with local Mi'kmaq First Nations, mining and mill training programs have been initiated to provide qualified First Nation candidates with the skillsets to take advantage of Trevali's goal of 20 percent First Nation workforce participation at Caribou. There are presently 11 First Nation students in the underground mining common core program who are presently on the practical portion of training at the Caribou mine. As well there are 12 First Nation candidates who are on their sixth week of a twelve week mill operator training program. Both programs are being run through the local community colleges.
Upon the completion and employment of these First Nation candidates, Trevali is proud to announce that it will be one of the largest First Nation employers in New Brunswick.
ZINC COMMODITY OUTLOOK
Zinc-market fundamentals continue look very strong as London Metals Exchange inventory levels see continued drawdowns and are now at plus-5-year lows, approaching the 515,000-tonne level (Figure 4). Coupled with this are the scheduled closures of both MMG Limited's Century Mine in Australia and Vedanta Resources Plc's Lisheen Mine in Ireland later this year, which have estimated 2015 annual productions of approximately 320,000-370,000 tonnes and 160,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate respectively.
According to the International Lead and Zinc Study Group, zinc production lagged consumption by 296,000 tonnes in 2014 as stockpiles were being consumed. This production deficit is forecast to almost double to approximately 580,000 tonnes this year and could widen to as much as 2 million tonnes in 2017 with no new, global marquee zinc mines scheduled to commence production within this period.
Trevali is the only primary zinc producer (as defined by greater than 50% revenues derived from zinc production and sales) currently listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
To view "Figure 4: Zinc LME warehouse inventory levels (blue) vs. zinc price (orange); from InfoMine," please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/trevali_mc_march30_figure04.pdf
Qualified Person and Quality Control/Quality Assurance
EurGeol Dr. Mark D. Cruise, Trevali's President and CEO, and Paul Keller, P.Eng, Trevali's Chief Operating Officer, are qualified persons as defined by NI 43-101, have supervised the preparation of the scientific and technical information that forms the basis for this news release. Dr. Cruise is not independent of the Company as he is an officer, director and shareholder. Mr. Keller is not independent of the Company as he is an officer and shareholder.