Equinox Minerals Limited

Equinox Minerals Limited

December 01, 2006 11:51 ET

Equinox Signs US$583.8 Million Bank Debt Facility for the Construction and Development of Lumwana

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 1, 2006) -


Equinox Minerals Limited (TSX:EQN)(ASX:EQN) ("Equinox" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has signed a debt facility with a group of financial institutions ("the Lenders") to provide a total of US$583.8 million in senior and subordinated project finance for the completion of development and construction of the Lumwana Project ("Lumwana") located in the North Western Province of the Republic of Zambia.

Situated to the west of the world renowned Copperbelt in Zambia, Equinox owns 100% of Lumwana. With proven and probable reserves totalling 321 million tonnes of ore grading at 0.73% Copper, Lumwana represents one of the largest fully permitted copper projects in the world currently in construction. The Lumwana mine remains on schedule to commission during Q2 2008.

The project debt facility will be provided by a syndicate of European, African and Australian based Commercial Lenders, Developmental Finance Institutions ("DFIs") and Export Credit Agencies ("ECAs"), includes capitalised interest and comprises:

Debt Tranche US$
Commercial Tranche:
Commercial bank loans jointly arranged and underwritten by
Standard Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank and WestLB AG. 81,000,000
ECA-backed Tranche:
ECA tranche provided by the Export Credit Insurance
Corporation of South Africa ("ECIC") and the German
Government ECA, Euler Hermes Kreditversicherungs-AG
The ECIC finance was arranged and underwritten by The
Standard Bank of South Africa Limited and Standard Chartered
Bank, and the Hermes facility covers the KfW-IPEX Bank and
West LB Lenders. 110,000,000
DFI Tranche:
DFI tranche of loans are provided by the African Development
Bank (AfDB), DEG-Deutsche Investitions-und
Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH ("DEG"), the European Investment
Bank (EIB), the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation of
Australia ("EFIC"), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatshappij
voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. ("FMO"), KfW-IPEX Bank and the
OPEC Fund for International Development ("OFID"). 173,000,000
Mining Fleet Tranche:
A tranche of asset backed finance for the mining fleet
provided by Fortis Bank S.A/N.V. in conjunction with Export
Development Canada ("EDC"), Caterpillar Financial Services
(UK) Limited and Caterpillar Financial S.A.R.L.
("Caterpillar") and Sandvik Mining and Construction Zambia
Limited ("Sandvik"). 165,800,000
Sub-ordinated Debt Tranche:
A sub-ordinated debt facility provided by EIB. 54,000,000

Debt drawdown is expected to commence during Q2-2007 after Equinox has completed expenditure of its equity contributions to the project financing. Drawdown will be subject to Equinox meeting a number of conditions precedent, including the provision of sufficient equity funds for project completion, the issuance of Equinox shares to the value of US$5 million to EIB as required under the sub-ordinated debt facility, the commitment to provide village housing for Equinox employees, the implementation of a hedging strategy and the commitment to deliver concentrate offtake arrangements with smelters that in aggregate relate to no less than 80% of anticipated Lumwana production over the first 5 years.

Equinox's hedging strategy is to ensure that Lumwana benefits from long term protection from adverse movements in the copper price. Under the facility documents Equinox has negotiated a minimisation of the volume of production committed to hedging, with an intention to hedge up to 30% of the initial 3 years of production.

The different tranches of the project debt facility carry interest rates of LIBOR plus a margin range of between 350 - 440 basis points during the construction period, then 300 - 390 basis points subsequent to the completion of construction pursuant to the relevant Facility Agreements. In addition, Political Risk Insurance is being finalised for the Commercial Tranche. The debt facilities have a tenor of between 7-9 years, with scheduled repayments commencing in March 2009.

Commenting on the signing of the debt facility, Craig Williams Equinox President and CEO said "the signing of the Lumwana debt package is a testament to the confidence the wide range of financial institutions involved in Lumwana have in the Company, its management and the Lumwana Project, as well as in Zambia. This critical milestone facilitates and assures the development of Africa's largest copper mine, and one of the only major new copper mines to be in production by mid 2008. We are pleased to have such a supportive and committed Lender group, who along with our shareholders have provided the funds to facilitate this development. I also wish to thank the Government of the Republic of Zambia that have provided an enabling environment for development, and most importantly our committed team at Equinox who are bringing this exciting development to reality."

On Behalf of the Board of Directors of Equinox:

Craig R. Williams - President & Chief Executive Officer

For information on Equinox and technical details on the Lumwana Project please refer to the company website at www.equinoxminerals.com

Cautionary Language and Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains "forward-looking statements", which are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. Investors are cautioned that such statements are not guarantees of future performance and results. Risks and uncertainties about the Company's business are more fully discussed in the Company's disclosure documents filed from time to time with the Canadian and Australian securities authorities.

ARBN 108 066 986

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