Atacama Minerals Corp.
TSX VENTURE : AAM

Atacama Minerals Corp.

November 29, 2010 16:00 ET

Atacama Q3 2010 Highlights

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 29, 2010) - Atacama Minerals Corp. ("Atacama" or "the Company") (TSX VENTURE:AAM) is pleased to report its financial and operating results for the third quarter period ended September 30, 2010.

Third Quarter 2010 Highlights

  • The third quarter ended with record iodine production levels being realized. Both tonnes mined and grade for the third quarter of 2010 were higher than budgeted. Production year-to-date is above budget and forecasts.
  • Net loss for the third quarter of 2010 was US$0.7 million compared to a net income of $1.4 million over the same period last year. The swing from net income in the comparable three-month period to the net loss for the quarter ended September 30, 2010 was primarily a result of a $1.8 million foreign currency translation gain in the third quarter of 2009 as compared to a $0.3 million translation gain in the third quarter of 2010 and higher exploration expenses relating to the Salvador potash project in 2010.
  • Income from mining operations continues to be positive for the third quarter at $0.8 million.
  • Sales revenue for the quarter was US$9.0 million versus US$7.2 million for the same period in 2009 representing a 25% increase due to an increase in sales volume and a slight increase in sales price.
  • The exploration program at Aguas Blancas continued without interruption during the third quarter. Focus remains on converting resources to reserves as well as adding to the resource base.
  • At September 30, 2010, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $28.6 million and working capital of $33.7 million.
  • Atacama maintained its excellent safety and environmental records during the third quarter, with only one lost time accident among the Company workforce and no environmental incidents at the site.

Financial and Operational Highlights

  Three Months Three Months Nine Months Nine Months
  Ended Ended Ended Ended
  September 30, September 30, September 30, September 30,
  2010 2009 2010 2009
Financial Highlights in US $'000, except for data per share        
Revenue 9,046 7,210 24,904 20,367
Net Income (loss) (667) 1,418 (2,044) 2,754
Earnings (loss) per Share (0.00) 0.01 (0.01) 0.02
Earnings (loss) before interest, foreign exchange on cash balances, income taxes, depletion, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") 393 1,009 2,043 3,424
Exploration and project investigation 969 137 2,505 575
         
Operating Highlights        
Tonnes Mined 976,395 707,664 2,770,687 2,356,028
Iodine Grade (ppm) 618 544 643 548
Iodine Produced (mt) 322 285 912 778
Iodine Sold (mt) 329 269 919 748

Aguas Blancas Iodine Mine – Chile

  • Design details were finalized for the modifications to the Agitated Leach Plant (ALP) early in Q2. Procurement and manufacture of the items required to carry out the modifications are complete. Construction began during the third quarter, and was well over 50% complete by quarter´s end. Commissioning is scheduled to begin in the 4th quarter and will be complete in early January 2011, with ramp up to full production levels over the first 6 months of 2011.
  • Tonnes mined in the third quarter of 2010 were 38% higher than the same period in 2009, with a considerable improvement in grade of ore mined.
  • Overall, various optimizations and modifications continued during the third quarter 2010. The material shortfall from one of the mine contractors has been made up by mining Repasos and clean-up of high grade material from old mined out areas. Higher grades and tonnes placed on the leach pads earlier in the year provided for record iodine production from the heaps in the third quarter. The cleaning process of the Blow Out towers continues as planned and the solution heater has helped maintain high throughput and recovery in the plant during the winter time.

Salvador Potash Project – Brazil

  • The first drill hole in the Salvador potash project in Salvador Bahia, Brazil, continues to have problems with difficult ground conditions and is unable to get beyond the 1,050 meter depth. A larger drill rig will be brought to site in Q4 to continue drilling the hole to depth. The second hole was completed at the end of the quarter and samples sent for analysis. Gamma logs of the hole indicate zones of interest and likely presence of evaporates. Carnelite was seen in the core as well, though not massive amounts of salts. Additional gravity studies have been carried out to assist with determining new drill hole locations. Also, a proposal to carry out an MT survey is expected in November. This will assist in identifying locations for placement of the next drill holes.
  • Permitting of drill hole sites is ongoing, and there are 8 additional locations at various stages of the process. Current estimations are that these locations will be approved sometime late in 2010 or perhaps in early 2011. Meanwhile, there are currently 4 approved drill sites which will be more than adequate for the remainder of the year. Depending on the results of the first two holes, the plan will be to complete these two holes, after which the information will be used to prepare a scoping study on the potash project potential for review prior to committing to further investment in the project. Wardrop has been awarded a contract to assist with interpretation of the results of the geophysical studies and drill core analysis.

On behalf of the Board,

Tim Miller, President and CEO

About Atacama Minerals

Atacama Minerals Corp. is a Canadian company focused on the discovery and development of economic industrial minerals projects in South America. The Company produces iodine from its Aguas Blancas mine in northern Chile. In addition, the Company holds a potash exploration project in northeastern Brazil.

This news release contains forward-looking statements concerning the Company's plans for its properties. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, risks and uncertainties relating to political risks involving the Company's exploration and development of its properties, the inherent uncertainty of cost estimates and the potential for unexpected costs and expenses, commodity price fluctuations, the inability or failure to obtain adequate financing on a timely basis and other risks and uncertainties, including those described in the Company's periodic filings with the British Columbia Securities Commission. Such information contained herein represents management's best judgment as of the date hereof based on information currently available. The Company does not intend to update this information and disclaims any legal liability to the contrary.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Contact Information

  • Atacama Minerals Corp.
    Sophia Shane
    Corporate Development
    (604) 689-7842
    (604) 689-4250 (FAX)
    www.atacama.com