Candente Copper Corp.
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Candente Copper Corp.

January 18, 2011 04:01 ET

Candente Copper Announces Positive Pre-Feasibility Progress Report for the Canariaco Norte Copper Project

-- NPV of US$960.0M and IRR of 17.7% (After tax, long term copper price of US$2.25 /lb, and 8% discount rate)

-- Copper Production to Average 262 million Pounds per Year Over Mine Life of 22 Years

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 18, 2011) - Candente Copper Corp. (TSX:DNT)(US:CDOUF)(BVLAC:DNT) ("Candente") is very pleased to announce receipt from AMEC Americas Limited ("AMEC") of a positive Pre-Feasibility Progress Report for its 100% owned Cañariaco Norte copper project in Northern Peru.

Based on projected annual production of 262 million lbs of copper, 39,000 ozs of gold and 911,000 ozs of silver over a mine life of 22 years, the Cañariaco Norte project has an after tax net present value ("NPV") of US$960.0M, and after tax Internal Rate of Return ("IRR") of 17.7% using a long term copper price reverting to US$2.25 /lb and a discount rate of 8%.

The key parameters of the Pre-Feasibility Progress Report are as follows:

  • After-tax NPV of US$960.0M for base case with US$2.25 /lb Cu, US$1,015 /oz gold, US$15.85 /oz silver, and 8% discount rate

  • After-tax IRR of 17.7% for base case with US$2.25 /lb Cu, US$1,015 /oz gold, and US$15.85 /oz silver

  • Highly leveraged to higher copper price

  • Payback of preproduction capital in 3.1 years

  • Cash operating cost of US$0.99 /lb of copper including all on-site and off-site costs, TCRC charges, net of by-product credits

  • Average metal production of 262 million pounds (119,000 tonnes) copper /yr, 39,000 ozs gold per year, and 911,000 ozs silver per year

  • Average production of 306 million pounds (139,000 tonnes) copper /yr for first 3 years of production

  • Preproduction capital cost of US$1.437 billion based on leased mining equipment and including contingency of 20%

  • All in capital cost of US$1.565 billion based on leased mining equipment and including working capital, life-of-mine sustaining capital, and closure cost

  • Processing rate of 95,000 t/day using conventional crush/grind and flotation technology

  • Waste to ore strip ratio of 0.98 to 1

  • Average life-of-mine metal recoveries of 89.7% for copper, 55% for gold and 50% for silver

  • Concentrate grades average approximately 30% copper, 3 g/t gold and 73 g/t silver

  • 22 year mine life, with potential for extension by mining additional resources identified below proposed pit

  • Cañariaco Norte is located at a moderate elevation with pit centroid and process plant at approximately 3,000 metres above sea level

  • Connection to national power grid approximately 57 km

  • New access road to major paved highway approximately 42 km

  • Significant potential for discovery of additional resources at nearby Cañariaco Sur and Quebrada Verde targets

Management Discussion

"We are very pleased with the results of the Cañariaco Norte Pre-Feasibility Progress Report," stated Sean Waller, P.Eng., President of Candente. "The work completed by Candente and AMEC during 2010 certainly demonstrates the very attractive technical and financial parameters of the Cañariaco Norte project. With the significant increase in the size of the resource announced late last year, a solid scope of development and robust financials, Cañariaco Norte is rapidly evolving into one of the premier undeveloped large scale copper projects in the world - with the added benefit of being located in Peru."

The Cañariaco Norte project offers many advantages. It is reasonably close to key road and power infrastructure, has a low strip ratio, soft rock, low operating cost, offers excellent potential for discovery of additional resources, and is located in Peru, one of the most favourable countries in the world for mining project development.

Candente advises readers that additional geotechnical drilling and rock quality assessment is required to complete the open pit slope design to a level consistent with generally accepted prefeasibility requirements. Due to the preliminary level of pit wall design, this report does not meet the criteria of a Pre-Feasibility Study and therefore is classified as a Pre-Feasibility Progress Report.

The above ground structures in the tailings management facility ("TMF") have been designed to a pre-feasibility level, however geotechnical investigations in the TMF area have not been completed and as a result there is a risk that the TMF design may require revision. The remainder of the Pre-Feasibility Study Progress Report does however meet a pre-feasibility level of assessment, and Candente is satisfied that this report provides sufficient level of project development to justify advancement to a Feasibility Study.

Conference Call

Candente will host a telephone conference call for investors and analysts on Tuesday, January 18th, at 5:30 am Pacific (8:30 am Eastern, 1:30 pm GMT) to discuss the Pre-Feasibility Progress Report for the Cañariaco Norte Copper Project, Peru.

Sean Waller, President and Joanne Freeze, CEO will review the report and take questions.

The conference call may be accessed by calling:

Toll-free 1-877-240-9772 in Canada and the United States
1-800-2787-2090 internationally
1-416-340-8530 in the Toronto area
The conference call can also be heard in real time at www.candentecopper.com.

The conference call will be archived for later playback and may be accessed by dialing 1-905-694-9451or 1-800-408-3053 and entering the pass code 7678614, or at www.candentecopper.com. The archived playback will be available until February 1, 2011.

Financial Analysis

The Net Present Values of the Cañariaco Norte project at various copper price points and discount rates are presented below. Candente has selected as the Base Case a long term copper price of US$2.25 /lb. The financial model applied by AMEC utilizes a reverting price curve whereby metal prices in the early years of operation are higher and gradually decrease to fixed long term prices after year 10. This approach recognizes the industry consensus view that future copper and precious metal prices will remain higher than historical price trends over the short to medium term, with reversion to lower long term prices.

For the Base Case with year 1 production anticipated in 2015, the initial copper price is US$2.92 /lb reverting to US$2.25 /lb after year 10; a gold price of US$1,159 /oz reverting to US$1,015 /oz; and a silver price of US$20.96 /oz reverting to US$15.85 /oz.

As of January 2011, AMEC is applying long term metal prices of US$2.40 /lb copper, US$1,015 /oz gold and US$15.85 /oz silver. The Cañariaco Norte project is highly leveraged to the price of copper. At long term copper prices of US$2.40 /lb and above, the after tax NPVs and IRRs increase significantly. Sensitivity to the copper price is presented below:

Table 1: Project Net Present Value & IRR (After Tax)

  NPV (US$M)  
  Long Term Copper Price US$ /lb  
      Base Case   AMEC          
  $2.00   $2.25   $2.40   $2.75   $3.00  
Undiscounted Cumulative Net Cash Flow $ 2,742   $ 3,575   $ 4,072   $ 5,224   $ 6,041  
Discounted                              
6% $ 938   $ 1,355   $ 1,604   $ 2,177   $ 2,583  
8% $ 617   $ 960   $ 1,164   $ 1,634   $ 1,967  
10% $ 373   $ 659   $ 829   $ 1,220   $ 1,497  
IRR%   14.6 %   17.7 %   19.5 %   23.3 %   25.8 %

Table 2: Project Net Present Value & IRR (Pre-Tax)

  NPV (US$M)  
  Long Term Copper Price US$ /lb  
      Base Case   AMEC          
  $2.00   $2.25   $2.40   $2.75   $3.00  
Undiscounted Cumulative Net Cash Flow $ 4,335   $ 5,649   $ 6,421   $ 8,209   $ 9,478  
Discounted                              
6% $ 1,766   $ 2,414   $ 2,800   $ 3,691   $ 4,320  
8% $ 1,303   $ 1,836   $ 2,152   $ 2,883   $ 3,399  
10% $ 950   $ 1,394   $ 1,658   $ 2,266   $ 2,695  
IRR%   20.9 %   25.2 %   27.6 %   32.7 %   36.1 %

The financial model is based on open pit mining by the owner with leased supply of mobile mining equipment including scheduled additions and replacements. All other project costs are the responsibility of the owner including process and infrastructure preproduction capital, life-of-mine sustaining capital, and closure costs. Peru corporate income tax of 30%, employee profit sharing tax of 8% and the Peru mineral production royalty is applied on a sliding scale of 1% to 3% according to revenue levels. Depreciation on capital equipment as permitted by Peru tax regulations has been applied. Finance charges for project construction capital have not been applied in the model.

The mine plan is based on Measured and Indicated mineral resources only, with Inferred mineral resources considered as waste. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

Capital Costs

Preproduction direct capital costs for the 95,000 tonnes per day project are estimated to be US$904.6 million which includes US$171.9 million for mine preproduction development, US$381.3 million for process plant, US$101.5 million for tailings management facility, US$26.9 million for concentrate storage and handling facilities at the load-out port, and US$223.0 million for infrastructure including diversion channel, access road, and connection to the national power grid. Indirects, owner's cost, and contingency total US$532.5 million.

The capital cost estimate is predominantly based on 3rd quarter 2010 costs. In addition to the capital cost, the financial analysis includes owner's preproduction costs of US$52.9 million, working capital of US$65.7 million, sustaining capital and closure costs of US$128.1 million.

Table 3: Capital Cost Summary

Cost Area Cost (US$ x 1,000)
Prestripping $ 70,008
Mining Infrastructure & Equipment $ 101,942
Processing Plant & Acid Plant $ 381,277
Site Related Infrastructure (inc. Power) $ 133,444
Tailings Management $ 101,527
Project Access Road $ 38,795
Diversion Channel and Reservoir $ 50,753
Port Site $ 26,887
Subtotal – Directs $ 904,633
Indirects $ 243,076
Owner's Cost $ 52,899
Contingency $ 236,552
Subtotal - Indirects $ 532,527
TOTAL PREPRODUCTION CAPITAL $ 1,437,160
     
Sustaining Capital (Life-of-Mine) $ 70,438
Closure Costs $ 57,650
Subtotal Life-of-Mine $ 128,088
TOTAL PROJECT CAPITAL COSTS $ 1,565,248

Capital cost for the mobile mining equipment including drills, haul trucks and shovels (LOM total of US$291,773) is excluded and would be supplied under a lease agreement with the equipment supplier.

Operating Costs

Mine site cash operating costs are projected to be US$6.28 per tonne processed or US$0.82 per pound of payable copper produced. All-in C1 cash costs including concentrate transportation, off-site smelting and refining, applicable taxes, and by-product credits (gold, silver, and sulphuric acid) are projected to be US$0.995 per pound of payable copper.

Table 4: Operating Costs Summary

Area Unit US$ Unit US$ /lb Cu
         
On-site Costs        
Mining $/t processed $2.74 $/lb Cu $0.360
Processing $/t processed $3.11 $/lb Cu $0.408
General & Administration $/t processed $0.43 $/lb Cu $0.056
Sub-total Site Costs $/t processed $6.28 $/lb Cu $0.824
         
Off-site Costs        
Concentrate Transport–Land $/t concentrate $21.00 $/lb Cu $0.035
Concentrate Handling–Port $/t concentrate $12.06 $/lb Cu $0.020
Concentrate Transport–Ocean $/t concentrate $52.30 $/lb Cu $0.086
Smelting & Refining $/t concentrate $181.31 $/lb Cu $0.280
Sub-total Off-site Costs $/t concentrate $266.67 $/lb Cu $0.421
Total Cost On-Site & Off-Site $/lb Cu $1.245
Credits (Gold, Silver, Acid) $/lb Cu $0.250
Total Cost $/lb Cu $0.995

Cañariaco Norte Project Description

An outline of the Cañariaco Norte project including mineral resources, mining, processing, product handling, and financial analysis is provided below. The development scope for Cañariaco Norte is based on proven industry technology.

Mineral Resources

The mine plan and production parameters for the Pre-Feasibility Progress Report are based on the Mineral Resources below (previously reported in Candente Copper NR010, Nov. 1, 2010).

Table 5: Mineral Resource Estimate (0.30% Copper Cut-off Grade)

                    Contained Metal
Resource Classification tonnes
(M)
Cu
Eq*
  Cu
Eq**
  Cu   Au
(g/t)
Ag
(g/t)
Copper
(B lbs)
Gold
(M Ozs)
Silver
(M Ozs)
Measured 338.1 0.55 % 0.52 % 0.48 % 0.08 2.0 3.587 0.870 21.635
Indicated 414.3 0.49 % 0.46 % 0.43 % 0.06 1.8 3.945 0.799 23.602
Measured + Indicated 752.4 0.52 % 0.49 % 0.45 % 0.07 1.9 7.533 1.669 45.237
Inferred 157.7 0.47 % 0.44 % 0.41 % 0.06 1.8 1.434 0.304 8.932

*Copper equivalent grade including gold and silver values and based on 100% metal recoveries. Copper grade equivalent calculation. Cu Eq% = (Cu % + ((Au grade x Au price) + (Ag grade x Ag price)) / (22.0462 x Cu price x 31.0135 g/t)

**Copper equivalent grade including gold and silver, metal recoveries (gold 55%; silver 50%) and smelter returns (copper 96.5%: gold 93%; silver 90%) applied. Copper grade equivalent calculation: Cu Eq% =(Cu % + ((Au grade x Au price x Au recovery x Au smelter return%)+(Ag grade x Ag price x Ag recovery x Ag smelter return%))/(22.0462 x Cu price x 31.0135 g/t x Cu recovery x Cu smelter return%)

This updated mineral resource estimate is based on 230 drill holes and includes the results of 16 drill holes completed after the previous estimate by SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. in September 2008, as well as a review of the deposit lithology, alteration and specific gravities. Metal prices used by AMEC for the updated resource estimate are: copper US$2.50 /lb, gold US$1,035 /oz and silver US$17.25 /oz.

Mining

The Cañariaco Norte copper project will see development of a large scale open pit mine utilizing conventional truck and shovel mining. The mine plan calls for the extraction of 728.2 million tonnes of mineralized material and 713.5 million tonnes of waste over the projected 22 year mine life (strip ratio of 0.98 to 1). Average life-of-mine head grades to the process plant will be 0.40% copper, 0.067 g/t gold and 1.71 g/t silver. Importantly, the mine grades during the first three years of production will be higher, with average feed grades of 0.48% copper, 0.086 g/t gold and 2.14 g/t silver.

The open pit mine design relating to the angle of the pit wall slopes has been developed based on geotechnical logging of drill core plus rock quality evaluation and compressive strength testing of a limited number of core samples. The amount of geotechnical data available is not sufficient however to support development of a pre-feasibility level design for the pit wall slopes. As a result, the mine plan developed for this report must be considered to be at a preliminary level.

In the absence of sufficient geotechnical data AMEC has applied overall pit slopes of 35 degrees on the high west wall and south wall, and 44 degrees on the lower north and east walls. Additional geotechnical drilling in the pit area is required to permit a pre-feasibility and feasibility level pit wall design. Candente plans to complete the required geotechnical drilling and rock quality testing as part of a Feasibility Study program.

Metallurgy and Process

Grinding and flotation test work was performed by SGS Lakefield located in Santiago, Chile, under the direction of Transmin Metallurgical Consultants in Lima. Preliminary concentrate roasting test work for the removal of arsenic was conducted by Outotec Oyj in Sweden.

The metallurgical test work confirms that conventional crushing, grinding and flotation technologies are appropriate for the recovery of copper, gold and silver from the Cañariaco Norte deposit. The preliminary concentrate roasting test work supports the application of this technology for the reduction of arsenic in the Cañariaco Norte concentrate.

Processing will utilize primary crushing, semi-autogenous and ball mill grinding for size reduction followed by rougher and cleaner flotation for copper recovery and production of copper concentrate. The copper concentrate will then be subjected to a partial concentrate roast process at site to reduce arsenic levels and improve the marketability of the copper concentrate.

Final copper concentrate will be trucked to a load-out port facility near Eten in Northern Peru for ocean shipment to offshore smelters. Sulphuric acid produced as a by-product of the roasting process will be upgraded and sold to consumers in western South America. Process tailings will be contained at the project site in a facility design for long term tailings management.

Water Management

Candente management recognizes and fully respects the importance of water to both the daily lives of the surrounding communities and agricultural projects downstream. For Cañariaco Norte, a controlled water management system has been developed and preliminary engineering studies indicate that the Cañariaco Norte project will have minimal impact on the local water resources.

Local ground water and surface water courses within the proposed mine area are expected to be adequate to supply the majority of water required for the proposed mine operation. Discharge of water to the environment is anticipated only after project closure. The water management system will ensure that discharge streams meet the appropriate Peruvian regulations for water quality and be suitable for downstream agricultural usage. As part of the next phase of project engineering study Candente plans to work with the local community to assess opportunities for the provision and distribution of water for agricultural purposes.

Environment and Community

Development of the Cañariaco Norte project would result in a significant increase in local and regional employment opportunities and would generate significant ongoing expenditures to regional and national suppliers for goods and services required for mine operation. Furthermore, the Cañariaco Norte mine would provide a substantial long-term addition to the tax base for the Lambayeque region.

In keeping with world best practice, Candente intends to follow the Equator Principals and World Bank Standards for the proposed mining development at Cañariaco Norte. These protocols outline best practices for developing projects with regard to protecting the environment, biodiversity and managing social impact.

Permitting Advances

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment ("ESIA") studies have been underway since 2007 with AMEC Peru S.A., an internationally recognized environmental consultant in Lima. The assessment is ongoing but at this point there are no findings that suggest the project would not meet environmental approval. Candente has received several permits for certain aspects of Cañariaco Norte development and previously received a Certificate from the Peruvian National Institute for Culture confirming that no archaeological remains exist in the area of the Cañariaco Norte pit.

Timeline

The proposed timeline for project development to production is scheduled to be approximately four years after commencement of a Feasibility Study.

Opportunities

Based on the work completed to date there are several significant opportunities that may offer the potential to further enhance the Cañariaco Norte project including:

The mine plan for the first 18 months of operations may be optimized to maximize the IRR and reduce project payback period.

The Cañariaco Norte deposit is open to depth and the potential exists for the mine life to be extended beyond the 22 years proposed in this report and/or the mining and processing rate to be increased. Both opportunities offer the potential to enhance the economics of the Cañariaco Norte project.

The potential exists to discover and delineate additional resources at the Cañariaco Sur and Quebrada Verde targets which are located approximately 1.5 kms and 3.5 kms south of the Cañariaco Norte deposit. These targets are located within Candente's Cañariaco property and, should an economic deposit be delineated at either site, it is possible that development would utilize the proposed Cañariaco Norte facilities.

Risks

As with most projects at this level of assessment, risks exist that may affect the development of the project. Factors that could pose a risk to the Cañariaco Norte project include changes in world commodity markets, equity markets, costs and supply of labour and materials relevant to the mining industry, extent of resources actually contained in mineral deposits, geotechnical conditions, actual recoveries achieved in processing ore, marketing of concentrate, technological change, water management, local community opposition, environmental permitting, change in government and changes to regulations affecting the mining industry.

Qualified Persons and NI 43-101 Technical Report

The Pre-Feasibility Progress Report summarized here for the Cañariaco Norte project was completed by AMEC Americas Limited, of Vancouver British Columbia, a preeminent international mining and metals engineering firm.

The findings of the Pre-Feasibility Progress Report will be disclosed in a NI 43-101 Technical Report which will be completed and available on SEDAR and Candente Copper's website within 45 days from the date of this news release.

The qualified persons for the Mineral resource Estimate and Pre-Feasibility Progress Report are identified below:

Mr. David Thomas, P.Geo. Principal Geologist with AMEC and an independent Qualified Person as set forth by NI 43-101. Responsible for the Cañariaco Norte Mineral Resource Estimate reported on November 1, 2010 and included in the Pre-Feasibility Progress Report.

Ms. Alexandra Kozak, P.Eng. Manager of Process with AMEC and an independent Qualified Person as set forth by NI 43-101. Ms Kozak served as AMEC's project manager for the Cañariaco Norte Pre-Feasibility Report. Ms. Kozak is responsible for project capital costs and financial analysis.

Mr. Tony Lipiec, P.Eng. Principal Metallurgist with AMEC and an independent Qualified Person as set forth by NI 43-101, responsible for metallurgy and process, process equipment capital costs, process operating costs, and general and administration operating costs.

Mr. Jay Melnyk, P.Eng. Principal Mining Engineer with AMEC and an independent Qualified Person as set forth by NI 43-101, responsible for mine design and mine capital and operating costs.

About Candente Copper

Candente Copper's flagship project is the 100% owned, 7.5 billion pound, pre-feasibility stage Cañariaco Norte Copper Project located in northern Peru's prolific mining district. The Cañariaco Norte deposit contains a Measured and Indicated resource of 752 million tonnes grading 0.45 % copper, 0.07 g/t gold and 1.90 g/t silver.

Sean Waller, P.Eng., President and Stacy Freudigmann, P.Eng., Candente Project Manager are the Qualified Persons as defined by National Instrument 43-101 for the projects discussed above. They have reviewed and approved the contents of this release. This news release may contain forward-looking statements including but not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work programs, geological interpretations, receipt of property titles, potential mineral recovery processes, etc. Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and therefore involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements. Candente relies upon litigation protection for forward-looking statements.

CAUTIONARY NOTE TO U.S. INVESTORS

We advise U.S. investors that this news release uses terms that are not recognized by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including "mineral resources", "measured resources", "indicated resources" and "inferred resources". The estimation of measured and indicated resources involves greater uncertainty as to their existence and economic feasibility than the estimation of proven and probable reserves. U.S. investors are cautioned not to assume that mineral resources in these categories will be converted to reserves. The estimation of inferred resources involves far greater uncertainty as to their existence and economic viability than the estimation of other categories of resources. U.S. investors are cautioned not to assume that estimates of inferred mineral resources exist, are economically mineable, or will be upgraded into measured or indicated mineral resources. U.S. investors are cautioned not to assume that mineral resources in any of these categories will be converted into reserves.

On behalf of the Board of Candente Copper Corp.

Sean Waller, P.Eng., President & Director

NR-015

Contact Information

  • Candente Copper Corp.
    John Foulkes
    VP Corporate Development
    mobile: +1 (604) 614-2999 or local: + 1 (604) 689-1957 ext 2
    or toll free: 1 (877) 689-1964 ext 2
    info@candentecopper.com
    or
    Candente Copper Corp.
    Walter Spagnuolo
    Manager, Investor Relations
    mobile: +1 (604) 306-8477 or local: + 1 (604) 689-1957 ext 3
    www.candente.com