Minera IRL Limited ("Minera IRL" or the "Company"), the Latin American gold mining company, is pleased to report that it has exceeded the 2013 production guidance and is providing an update on current activities. The latest investor presentation is available on the Company's website at www.minera-irl.com. All dollar amounts are in United States dollars ("$").
"I am pleased to report that our Corihuarmi Mine has once again exceeded expectations, with full year gold production of 25,223 ounces, above our guidance of 24,000 ounces," said Courtney Chamberlain, Executive Chairman of Minera IRL. "We see 2014 as a pivotal year that is the launching point for our next generation of mines. The Don Nicolás Gold Mine is under construction, our flagship Ollachea Project will start construction when the mining permit and financing is secured, and we will be exploring new zones of mineralization at Corihuarmi that has the potential to significantly further extend the mine life. We expect this to result in a rapid increase in gold production over the next two years while reducing unit cash operating costs."
Preliminary 2013 Operational Results
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the Corihuarmi Mine produced 6,446 ounces of gold, resulting in full year production of 25,223 ounces, 5% higher than Minera IRL's guidance of 24,000 ounces. Higher than forecasted grade and mining more tonnes than scheduled contributed to the increase in gold production. Accordingly, the Company expects to report full-year 2013 site cash operating costs that are well below the budgeted rate of $760 per ounce produced.
Minera IRL ended the year with approximately $3 million in cash, plus undrawn debt facilities of $5 million. Annual gold sales revenues totalled $35.7 million from the sale of 25,200 ounces at an average realized gold price of $1,412 per ounce.
Corihuarmi Gold Mine Update
In 2014, gold production at Corihuarmi is expected to decrease to 21,000 ounces, an increase from the Company's prior outlook of 20,000 ounces, at an expected site cash operating cost of $885 per ounce of gold produced.
The Company is pleased to report that it will soon be initiating a 26-hole, 1,600-metre exploratory drill program on the Company's Ely and Cayhua Ridge prospects. The drill program is expected to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, which will be capitalized, and be completed during the second quarter of 2014.
These prospects are intensely silicified, adjacent and similar to the material currently being mined from Diana and Susan pits, and are identified in figures 1 and 2 at the end of this press release.
A westward extension of the grade-control drilling program from the Diana Pit has already defined ore-grade material on the Company's Ely prospect.
Ollachea Gold Project Update
Since obtaining government approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment ("ESIA") for the Ollachea Project, the Company has focused its efforts on obtaining the mine construction permit from the Peruvian government. The Company is working closely with officials and expects that the construction permit will be granted during the second quarter of 2014 (from the end of the first quarter of 2014).
In parallel with permitting activities, the Company continues to advance project debt financing negotiations, which are now expected to be concluded during the second quarter of 2014 (from the first quarter of 2014). These negotiations include, amongst other considerations, the consolidation of the Company's existing debt facility into a larger senior project debt facility for Ollachea.
The Company continues to target commencement of production during the fourth quarter of 2015, subject to obtaining the construction permit and securing project financing in a timely manner.
Don Nicolás Joint Venture Update
Having secured an $80 million funding package from Compañía Inversora de Minas S.A. ("CIMINAS") in 2013, project development has now commenced at the Don Nicolás project in Santa Cruz province of Argentina.
Detailed engineering of the treatment plant is underway at Kappes Cassiday & Associates in Reno, Nevada. The development team, which has extensive experience operating in Santa Cruz province, has also been assembled. Minera IRL Patagonia SA ("Minera IRL Patagonia"), the joint venture company, is in the process of updating the capital budget. Minera IRL Patagonia continues to expect that construction will be fully financed by CIMINAS' earn-in funds.
Site work has commenced with heavy equipment preparing pads and roads for the plant, camp and infrastructure. Sterilization and water bore drilling is nearing completion. Recent photos of site construction work are provided in Figures 3 through 5 at the end of this press release.
Minera IRL Patagonia continues to target plant commissioning by year-end with production commencing in the first quarter of 2015 (from the fourth quarter of 2014). Minera IRL's share of Don Nicolás' gold production is forecast to be approximately 25,000 ounces in 2015.
Minera IRL Patagonia is continuing with metallurgical testing to be used in a heap leach feasibility study for Don Nicolás. This study is now expected to be completed by the end of 2014 (from late 2013). A future heap leaching facility, designed to treat low grade mineralization, is envisioned to operate in parallel to the milling operation currently being developed and has the potential to increase annual gold production, extend mine life and enhance the project's overall economics.
On the exploration front, Minera IRL Patagonia has identified a number of other prospective areas of gold and silver mineralization that are within a reasonable trucking distance to the future Don Nicolás central ore processing facilities that warrant follow-up exploration activities. High priority prospects, which produced very encouraging surface and trench sampling results in 2013, include Cecilia, Paula Andrea, and Goleta. Generative exploration and related activities continue with the objective of developing exploration drill targets.