Mr. David Strang reports
ERO COPPER PRODUCES 30,426 TONNES OF COPPER IN 2018 AND PROVIDES 2019 PRODUCTION OUTLOOK
Ero Copper Corp. has provided the production results for the three- and 12-month period ended Dec. 31, 2018, for its 99.6-per-cent-owned Vale do Curaca property located in Bahia state, Brazil. The financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2018 will be published on Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the close of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
2018 production highlights
Total annual copper production of 30,426 tonnes compared with 20,133 tonnes produced in 2017, a 51-per-cent year-on-year increase in production, and exceeding original 2018 production guidance by 15 per cent;
Fourth quarter copper production of 12,104 tonnes of copper, a 55-per-cent quarter-on-quarter increase in production;
Total annual gold and silver production at the company's 97.6-per-cent-owned NX gold mine of 39,808 ounces gold and 24,573 ounces silver.
2019 outlook highlights
Annual copper production guidance of 36,000 to 38,000 tonnes;
C1 cash cost guidance of $1 (U.S.) to $1.10 (U.S.) per pound of copper produced at U.S.-dollar/Brazilian-real foreign exchange rate of 3.70;
Capital expenditure guidance of $62.0-million (U.S.);
An additional $20-million (U.S.) to finance the 2019 exploration program. The program is highlighted by 130,000 metres of planned exploration drilling, comprising 112,500 metres of near-mine exploration drilling (including continued exploration of the Vermelhos East zone and Pilar West Limb), plus an additional 17,500 metres of planned greenfields exploration drilling to test high-priority regional exploration targets identified during the company's airborne geophysical survey.
Commenting on the 2018 production results and 2019 outlook, David Strang, president and chief executive officer of Ero, stated: "Our strategy for 2018 was to secure a long-term foundational copper production base for the operations in the Curaca Valley. With the ahead-of-schedule commissioning of the Vermelhos mine in August, and consistent month-on-month production from the Pilar mine, the company has achieved that goal. In addition, the mill throughput of 777,480 tonnes in the fourth quarter, an annualized equivalent throughput of 3.1 million tonnes, demonstrates that the mill is capable of operating consistently at its current deemed capacity limits of approximately 3.2 million tonnes per annum.
"As we look forward to 2019, we expect to build on the strong operational performance realized to date as we continue to increase total copper production, further reduce operating costs and implement several high-value optimization projects that were started during 2018. While ore production in 2019 is notionally forecast to be two million tonnes, we are focused on identifying opportunities to continue to increase mill throughput this year at each mining operation.
"Further, our exploration programs are now focused on both lengthening mine life and increasing mill throughput. We intend to build on the successes made in 2018 with the discoveries of the West Limb at Pilar and the East zone at Vermelhos, by bringing each discovery into mineral reserves through aggressive infill and extension drilling. In addition, we will also be evaluating and pursuing new regional targets generated from the 2018 airborne geophysical survey that will allow us to continue to grow our operational footprint in the Curaca Valley."
2018 production results
Mining and milling operations -- record year and quarter
Total of approximately 2.3 million tonnes of ore grading 1.56 per cent copper mined and processed during the year producing 30,426 tonnes of copper in concentrate after average metallurgical recoveries of 86.3 per cent;
Fourth quarter mill throughput of 777,480 tonnes grading 1.77 per cent copper producing 12,104 tonnes of copper in concentrate after metallurgical recoveries that averaged 87.8 per cent during the period;
Early commissioning of the Vermelhos mine (approximately four months ahead of schedule) resulted in a total of 206,873 tonnes of ore grading 2.72 per cent copper mined contributing to the annual production result, with 143,661 tonnes grading 2.77 per cent copper mined during the fourth quarter;
The company's 97.6-per-cent-owned NX gold mine processed 117,857 tonnes of ore grading 11.55 grams per tonne gold, resulting in the production of 39,808 ounces of gold and 24,573 ounces of silver as byproduct after metallurgical recoveries that averaged 91.0 per cent during the 12-month period ended Dec. 31, 2018.
2019 production outlook
Copper production in 2019 is expected to have a slight bias toward the first half of the year due to higher-grade stope sequencing at both the Pilar and Vermelhos underground mines as well as incremental production from the R22W open-pit mine. R22W is expected to augment underground production during the first half of the year (contributing approximately 250,000 tonnes of ore grading 0.50 per cent copper). Underground production from the Pilar mine is expected to contribute a total of approximately 1.3 million tonnes grading 1.80 per cent copper while underground production from the Vermelhos mine is expected to contribute a total of approximately 500,000 tonnes grading 3.20 per cent copper resulting in a blended head grade of approximately 2.00 per cent copper for 2019.
2018 original guidance 2018 revised guidance 2018 result 2019 guidance (1)
Tonnes processed sulphides 2,000,000 2,200,000 2,257,917 2,050,000
Copper grade (% Cu) 1.50% 1.50% 1.56% 2.00%
Copper recovery (%) 86.0% 86.0% 86.3% 88.0%
Cu production (000 tonnes) 25.5-27.5 28.0-29.0 30.4 36.0-38.0
(1) Guidance is based on certain estimates and assumptions, including but not limited to, mineral reserve
estimates, grade and continuity of interpreted geological formations and metallurgical performance.
Please refer to the company's SEDAR filings for complete risk factors.
2019 cash cost guidance
The company's guidance for 2019 assumes a U.S.-dollar/Brazilian-real foreign exchange rate of 3.70, gold price of $1,200 per ounce and silver price of $14.50 per ounce.
2018 revised guidance 2019 guidance
C1 cash cost guidance (US$/lb) (1) $1.10-$1.20 $1-$1.10
(1) C1 cash costs are non-IFRS (international financial reporting standards)
2019 capital expenditure guidance
The company's capital expenditure guidance for 2019 assumes a U.S.-dollar/Brazilian-real foreign exchange rate of 3.70 and has been presented below in millions of U.S. dollars.
2018 guidance 2019 guidance
Pilar mine $39.0 $42.0
Vermelhos 36.0 18.0
Boa Esperanza 1.0 2.0
Capital expenditure guidance 76.0 62.0
Exploration (1) (2) 20.0 20.0
(1) Exploration capital expenditure guidance is dependent, in
part, on future exploration success and subject to
further review and revision.
(2) Two thousand eighteen exploration capital expenditure
guidance included approximately $6-million (U.S.) related
to the company's airborne geophysical survey.
Conference call details
The financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2018 will be published on Thursday, March 14, 2019, after the close of the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company will host a conference call to discuss the results on Friday, March 15, 2019.
Date: Friday, March 15, 2019
Time: 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time (8:30 a.m. Pacific Time)
North America: 1-800-319-4610
Please dial in five to 10 minutes prior and ask to join the call.
Replay North America: 1-800-319-6413
Replay passcode: 2876
About Ero Copper Corp.
Ero Copper, headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., is focused on copper production growth from the Vale do Curaca property, located in Bahia, Brazil. The company's primary asset is a 99.6-per-cent interest in the Brazilian copper mining company MCSA, 100-per-cent owner of the Vale do Curaca property with over 39 years of operating history in the region. The company currently mines copper ore from the Pilar underground mine, the Surubim open-pit mine, the R22W open-pit mine and its newly constructed Vermelhos underground mine. In addition to the Vale do Curaca property, MCSA owns 100 per cent of the Boa Esperanza development project, an IOCG-(iron-oxide-copper-gold)-type copper project located in Para, Brazil, and 97.6 per cent of the NX gold mine, an operating gold and silver mine located in Mato Grosso, Brazil.
Rubens Mendonca, MAusIMM, chartered professional -- mining, has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information contained in this press release. Mr. Mendonca is a qualified person and is independent of Ero Copper as defined by National Instrument 43-101, Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
We seek Safe Harbor.
© 2019 Canjex Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.