A key attribute of the company is that development of the 100% owned Corriente Copper Belt is scalable. This enables a modest investment to open up the district, with growth to be financed largely from cash flow, creating South America’s next major producing copper district.
Given the progress that has been made across our key projects in the Corriente Copper Belt, management believes it has set the stage for the future growth of our copper and gold assets and positioned Corriente as one of the very few copper developers that can successfully transition into large scale production on its own.
Of significant importance for the next decade of our growth in the Corriente Copper Belt is our continued commitment to local communities as we move forward with our mining and economic development. We are currently building good local support for our projects in Ecuador and will continue to work on these important relationships going forward. In addition, we are very pleased with the high level of experienced technical and management expertise we have been able to attract to our Ecuador projects. Corriente’s growth opportunities and the attraction of relocating to Ecuador are some of the key reasons we have been successful in getting a head-start in the building of a strong project team.
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Mirador – Moving Toward Production
Mirador is one of the few new significant greenfield copper-gold projects in the world that can be readied for near-term production. Mirador presents Corriente with a unique opportunity to introduce a substantial copper growth pipeline to a market environment that is plagued with supply challenges. Mirador’s robust project economics at 25,000 tonnes/day capacity allows Corriente to implement a scaled development strategy. This strategy calls for a modest first-phase project that can be financed by Corriente without major dilution to the company or the project itself. By using these first-phase cash flows, Corriente’s goal is to expand production at Mirador and bring online other deposits in the Belt.
Two challenging hurdles at Mirador are now behind us, with the May 2006 completion of our equity financing of CDN$125 million and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Energy and Mines’ (now called the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, “MMP”) approval of the initial Mirador Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In September 2006, the company filed an amendment to the EIA (“EIAA”) to allow for mill, tailings and dump location changes to the original mine plan. Subsequent public consultations were successful. In May 2007, the company was advised by the MMP that this amended EIA will require further study. It is currently being revised for re-submittal and during this ongoing review process, the company continues to operate under the terms of the original EIA. Corriente recently resumed field activities related to the development of this EIAA, which will incorporate engineering enhancements completed on the Mirador Project.
In November 2006, the NI 43-101 technical report on the Mirador Norte deposit was completed. Mirador Norte’s close proximity (within 1 km of the planned Mirador mill site) means that Mirador Norte could be integrated with Mirador, thereby significantly extending the mine-life at Mirador. Resources for the Mirador Norte deposit include Indicated resources of 171Mt of 0.51% copper and 0.09g/t gold (containing 1.9 billion pounds of copper and 490,000 oz gold) and Inferred resources of 46Mt at a grade of 0.51% copper and 0.07 g/t gold (containing 500 million pounds of copper and 100,000 oz gold). Both Indicated and Inferred resources were estimated at a 0.4% copper cut-off.
With the copper and gold mineral resources identified at Mirador Norte, the estimated resources available for processing by the planned Mirador concentrator increases by 28% to 11 billion pounds of copper.
Panantza / San Carlos – Corriente’s Copper Growth Pipeline
Building upon our position as one of the junior copper industry’s leading near-term producers is the extensive resource base that we control outside of Mirador that gives Corriente a significant future copper production pipeline. There is high potential to continue to expand resources beyond the announced figures on our development projects such as Panantza and San Carlos, as well as our other exploration projects in the Corriente Copper Belt.
Corriente recently announced a Preliminary Assessment on the Panantza – San Carlos project. The report proposes a mine plan based on the recently released, current Panantza resource estimate of 463 Mt of Inferred resources grading 0.66% copper , combined with re-estimated Inferred resources at San Carlos of 600 Mt at 0.59 % Cu (both at a 0.4% copper cut-off). The proposed mine plan would commence with a Panantza open pit and transition to a San Carlos open pit beginning in year 10, mining a total of 678 million tonnes of 0.62% copper over 21 years, at an average strip ratio of 1.1:1.
With a clear and feasible plan for Mirador in place, and with ongoing exploration and development within our 100%-owned Corriente Copper Belt properties, Corriente is in a position that is unique in the junior base metals sector.
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