Ascendant Resources Inc. (TSX VENTURE:ASND) ("Ascendant" or the "Company") is pleased to provide a progress report on our ongoing optimization program at the El Mochito Mine. For the first three weeks of March, mined and milled ore tonnes have averaged 1,745 tonnes per day, which is a good improvement from the average of 1,600 tonnes per day produced during January. We note that several individual days have exceeded 2,000 tonnes per day of ore. When sufficient ore has been available, the mill has demonstrated in excess of 2,200 tpd processing capacity. These increases are the result of various ongoing productivity improvement efforts including increasing the utilization of current equipment. A steady ramp-up of production is expected over the coming months with the goal of reaching nameplate plant production by the end of the year.
Personal safety continues to be a top priority for Ascendant. Over the past six weeks, the Company has placed an increased emphasis on worker safety training, proactive leadership oversight and has added personnel to the Health and Safety department to promote the programs.
Maintenance continues to be a primary focus for improvement in order to support higher, sustainable production rates. In addition to rolling out a comprehensive planned maintenance program for the existing fleet, the Company has ordered new and refurbished primary equipment including two 20-tonne trucks, and two LHD loaders, which are expected to be delivered to site within the next few months. The fleet performance will remain under evaluation during the ramp up phase with additional fleet equipment and spares being purchased as may be determined necessary by the maintenance and production teams.
Efforts to improve ventilation and underground working conditions for labour and equipment is ongoing, with various improvements already been implemented. To date these initial efforts have been successful as evidenced by the reduction in temperature at the deepest part of the mine since the beginning of the year. Work continues to further improve the conditions for our workers and equipment in support of increasing productivity.
First Lead Concentrate Sale
The Company is also pleased to announced that on March 9th, the Company completed its first lead concentrate shipment from the El Mochito mine with the sale of approximately 1,500 tonnes of lead concentrate. This was an accelerated shipment fulfilled at the request of its offtake partner via the Port of Cortes, Honduras. Typical shipments are targeted to be a minimum of 5,000 tonnes unless otherwise requested. Ascendant received payment for the provisional invoice of 90% of the shipment within 5 business days.
Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiations Ongoing
As discussed in our press release dated February 3rd, 2017, negotiations have begun with Union representatives to complete a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"). Discussions to date have been positive and the Company is optimistic that a new agreement can be completed in the second quarter that will align the interests of the Company and its workers such that all parties will benefit from the improved terms.
President and CEO, Chris Buncic commented "The past six weeks have been a critical period for the Company as our team has hastened its efforts to deliver production improvements and throughput volumes. We are only at the midpoint however, and we continue to press for further advances, remaining confident that we can reach our target of 2,200 tonnes per day on a sustainable basis. While additional equipment should advance us a long way towards that goal, we remain focused on improving our maintenance programs, horizontal development towards higher-grade ore, on improving community relations, and on general cost cutting measures."
Ascendant Resources is also pleased to announced that members of its founding team, senior management and guests will open trading on the TSX on March 26, 2017. This ceremony helps mark the culmination of a year's work to develop Ascendant Resources as a new TSXV listed zinc producing company. The market opening ceremony can be viewed in real-time at https://youtu.be/YfXNtxkCGDQ and on BNN television. An archive of the ceremony will also be made available at http://www.tsx.com/news/market-opens.
About Ascendant Resources
Ascendant Resources Inc. (formerly known as Morumbi Resources Inc.) is focused on producing zinc, lead and silver from 100% owned, flagship El Mochito mine in west-central Honduras. El Mochito has been in almost continuous production since 1948. The Company is evaluating producing and advanced development stage mineral resource acquisition opportunities in North, South and Central America, on an ongoing basis. The Company's common shares are listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol "ASND".