ECU Silver Mining Inc.
TSX : ECU

ECU Silver Mining Inc.

March 18, 2009 11:48 ET

ECU Silver Provides Shareholder Update

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2009) - ECU Silver Mining Inc. (TSX:ECU)

Dear Shareholders,

The past few months have continued to be challenging for the junior mining industry as the world economy continues to deteriorate. With this backdrop, the management team at ECU have taken steps to ensure that we protect shareholder value as we venture into these turbulent times. Consequently, our recent purchase of a gold and silver recovery oxide plant is designed to generate cash flows to support our ongoing funding and exploration needs.

Accordingly, this update is intended to address the following questions:

- What was the Rationale for the Acquisition of the Oxide Plant

- What is the Difference between the Oxide Mill and the Sulphide Mill

- When and What Output do we Expect from the Oxide Mill

- Why did the Company Complete an Equity Financing

- What are the Exploration Objectives for this Year

What was the Rationale for the Acquisition of the Oxide Plant

The acquisition of the oxide mill is somewhat of a unique transaction since we originally sold this mill to Hecla, back in 2001, and have in essence bought it back. The mill has a rated capacity of 500 tonnes per day (tpd) and was operated by Hecla from 2001 to 2005, at which point it was then put on care and maintenance. The uniqueness of this situation is that the mill is located immediately adjacent to our property, only one kilometre from our mine site, our employees are familiar with the operation of the mill and we have nearby mining stopes ready to feed the mill. As such, there is no need to move the mill and it is basically a "turn-key" operation for us. The output from the mill will be a gold/silver dore bar which can be sold directly to a refinery and thereby eliminates the excessive charges of a smelter. Consequently, our calculations suggest that the cash flow generated from this mill will allow us to improve our balance sheet and effectively reduce "financial and re-financing risk" which is a prevalent risk among junior exploration and mining companies.

What is the Difference between the Oxide Mill and the Sulphide Mill

Prior to the acquisition of the oxide mill, we were operating our sulphide mill and generating three concentrates from the sulphide resource; a lead/silver concentrate, a zinc concentrate and a gold/pyrite concentrate. The lead/silver and zinc concentrate requires further treatment through a smelter. However, lead and zinc prices have had a precipitous drop in the past few months whereas smelter charges have remained high. This "double whammy" has caused many similar operations to be unprofitable. The gold/pyrite concentrate requires further treatment beyond that of the smelters which we are currently evaluating. On the other hand, the oxide mill recently purchased will treat material from our oxide resource and will generate a gold/silver dore bar which then goes directly to a refinery. There are no base metals produced from the oxide material and no concentrates, as such, there is no need for a smelter.

What Output do we Expect from the Oxide Mill

We expect to begin treating oxide material through the oxide mill in early to mid second quarter. A typical ramp-up period will be required and we anticipate that following the ramp-up period, the mill will initially operate at 200 to 250 tonnes per day for an annual throughput of approximately 60,000 to 75,000 tonnes. The oxide mineral resources, as disclosed in the Company's N.I. 43-101 Technical Report, contains 1,075,000 tonnes of measured and indicated resources grading 2.95 grams/tonne (g/t) of gold and 162 grams/tonne of silver. We intend to initially mine oxide material that will be at higher grades than the oxide mineral resource grade. We are also testing the viability of treating 7,000 tonnes of stockpiled pyrite/gold concentrate as additional feed for the oxide mill. In all cases, the Company has not completed an independent pre-feasibility study and we cannot offer any assurances that the operation of the oxide mill will be economically viable.

Why did the Company Complete an Equity Financing

In order to fund the purchase price of US$8 million for the oxide mill, we raised $17.5 million in a "bought deal" financing. Since this was a firm underwriting commitment, the pricing of the deal was structured based on the "no risk" financing available to us. Consequently, we issued a $0.70 unit which consisted of common share plus a warrant. The warrant had an intrinsic value of approximately $0.20 using the Black-Scholes valuation methodology. The Company evaluated other forms of financing, however the terms of the other proposals were not as compelling as the terms of the equity financing.

What are the Exploration Objectives for this Year

Our current focus is to re-commission the oxide mill as early as possible. Once this has been completed, our exploration team will once again look for opportunities to enhance our mineral resource. One of the primary targets will be drilling in the area where we hit two high grade massive sulphide intercepts last year.

Cautionary Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 27E of the Exchange Act. Such statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the future results of operations, performance and achievements of the Company, including potential property acquisitions, the timing, content, cost and results of proposed work programs, the discovery and delineation of mineral deposits/resources/reserves, geological interpretations, proposed production rates, potential mineral recovery processes and rates, the proposed construction of a mill, business and financing plans, business trends and future operating revenues. Although the Company believes that such statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as: believe, expect, anticipate, intend, estimate, postulate and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. The Company cautions investors that any forward-looking statements by the Company are not guarantees of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, variations in the nature, quality and quantity of any mineral deposits that may be located, significant downward variations in the market price of any minerals produced, the Company's inability to obtain any necessary permits, consents or authorizations required for their activities, to produce minerals from their properties successfully or profitably, to continue their projected growth, to raise the necessary capital or to be fully able to implement their business strategies. All of the Company's public disclosure filings may be accessed via www.sedar.com and readers are urged to review these materials, including the technical reports filed with respect to the Company's mineral properties.

The Toronto Stock Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of the content of this Press Release.

Contact Information

  • ECU Silver Mining Inc.
    Michel Roy
    Chairman and CEO
    011 52 871 747 5750
    or
    ECU Silver Mining Inc.
    Stephen Altmann
    President
    (416) 366-2428
    www.ecu.ca