SOURCE: Sabina Silver Corporation

March 05, 2007 09:45 ET

Sabina's Hackett River "Preliminary Economic Assessment" Positive on Production of 12 Million oz Silver, 324 Million lbs Zinc per Year; Moving to Prefeasibility

THUNDER BAY, ON -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 5, 2007 -- SABINA SILVER CORPORATION (TSX-V: SBB) (PINKSHEETS: SBBFF) (FRANKFURT: RXC) is pleased to announce receipt of an independent NI43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment of its 100% owned Hackett River silver-zinc Project. The project is located 70 km southwest of the community of Bathurst Inlet on the Arctic Ocean and 130 km northeast of the diamond mines at Ekati and Diavik.

The Preliminary Economic Assessment by Wardrop Engineering Inc. envisions a mine plan with average annual production of 324.7 million pounds zinc, 12.4 million ounces silver, 20.7 million pounds copper, 37.0 million pounds lead, and 17.2 thousand ounces gold over a mine life of 13.6 years.

According to the Wardrop study, a discounted cash flow analysis of the Hackett River Project achieves a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of C$345 million at an 8% discount rate with a pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of 20.6% and a payback period (PBP) of approximately 3 years after the start of concentrate production (Table 2).

Project Highlights

A Preliminary Economic Assessment of the Hackett River Project features the following highlights:

* A Nunavut-based all-season road and tidewater resupply and concentrate delivery model.

* A bulk mining plan which includes ore production from open pits at Main Zone and the East Cleaver deposits and a maximum of 5,750 tonnes of ore per day from a large underground mine on the Boot Lake deposit.

* A 13.6 year mine life at a milling rate of 10,000 tonnes per day year-round.

* Total life-of-mine production of 4.4 billion pounds of zinc, 169 million ounces of silver, 283 million pounds of copper, 504 million pounds of lead, and 234 thousand ounces gold based on the current NI 43-101 compliant mineable mineral resource (Table 1).

* Initial (3 yr.) capital costs of C$527 million.

* Open pit mining costs of C$12.74 per tonne of ore milled or bulk mining cost of C$2.24/tonne mined over the life of mine.

* Underground mining costs of C$37.92 per tonne of ore milled over the life of mine.

* Cash cost of US$4.44 per ounce silver equivalent.

* Cash cost of US$0.22 per pound zinc equivalent.

* Considerable upside expansion potential remains on the known 3 resource deposits.

* High exploration potential for discovery of additional deposits within similar volcanic stratigraphy on the company's leases within the Hackett River greenstone belt.

The minable mineral resource estimated from Wardrop's Preliminary Economic Assessment is shown in Table 1. The mineral resource estimate takes into consideration all geologic, mining, milling, and economic factors, and is stated according to Canadian National Instrument 43-101.

Click on to the link below for Table 1. Hackett River Mineable Mineral Resource

Click on to the link below for Table 2. Hackett River Economic Summary

Assuming 100% equity financing and using the base case metal prices and exchange rates listed in Table 2, the Wardrop study estimates that the Hackett River Project will have a payback period (PBP) of approximately 3 years after the start of concentrate production and will generate pre-tax, net cash flow of $963 million over a 13.6 year mine life.

Abraham Drost, P.Geo. President of Sabina Silver Corporation, said, "These results are a key step towards demonstrating the ultimate viability of Sabina's Hackett River project. While there is much more work required to complete ultimate feasibility and environmental studies, there is significant opportunity within this asset. Sabina will review potential enhancements in areas such as geotechnical and metallurgical assumptions which may positively affect planning and economics of the project and further strengthen Sabina's position for growth."

Sabina also announces that Rescan Environmental Services Ltd. has been selected as the principal environmental consultant for the Hackett River Project. Rescan will lead all phases of environmental impact assessment and environmental permitting for the Hackett River Project going forward. Rescan Environmental Services Ltd. is also the project lead for environmental impact assessment for the Bathurst Inlet Port and Road (BIPAR) initiative, a majority Inuit-owned project with approved Terms of Reference towards completion of an Environmental Impact Statement as issued by the Nunavut Impact Review Board. Sabina Silver Corporation has been invited as a member of the Management Committee of the BIPAR initiative going forward.

Mine Plan

The preliminary economic assessment incorporates activities during a pre-production period of two years which includes mine site clearing, pre-stripping of two open pits on the East Cleaver and Main Zone deposits, installation of camp infrastructure, accommodations and diesel electric power plant and transmission lines, all season road construction, mill processing facility and tailings starter dam construction.

The open pit mine plan utilizes a large-scale conventional truck and shovel configuration. Following a two year pre-strip period, total material moved over the life-of-mine averages 33,400 tonnes/day at a strip ratio of 4.6:1. Initial mill tonnage will be supplied from open pit material.

In addition, the mine plan incorporates initial construction of a ramp-accessible underground mine at the Boot Lake deposit at a maximum production rate of 4,000 tonnes per day. Construction of a 5,750 tonnes per day shaft to access Boot Lake Deep will take place after payback and be funded from cash flows.

Processing and Infrastructure

The Hackett River processing plant has been designed with a nominal capacity of 10,000 tonnes per day. The plant consists of a single 10-meter diameter semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill, two 5.0-meter diameter ball mills, followed by processing circuits that include bulk rougher flotation, regrinding and cleaner flotation to produce a bulk copper-lead concentrate which will then be further separated into discrete copper and lead concentrates. The zinc will be collected from the tailings of the copper-lead circuit and will form a discrete concentrate after regrinding and cleaning. Expected metallurgical recoveries based on recent work is 89% for zinc, 80% for copper, 70% for lead, 72% for silver and 50% for gold. Silver and gold report to the lead and copper concentrates.

The zinc, copper and lead concentrates would be hauled with specialized haul trucks to an expanded load-out facility at Bathurst Inlet for ship transport to various points of sale, but mainly for shipment to smelters/refineries in Europe and/or the Pacific Rim.

Infrastructure would also include the construction of an all-season road to the port, an on-site camp, equipment maintenance shop, administration office, concentrate storage building, warehouse, and explosives facilities. Based on the present study, the project would employ up to 560 permanent hourly and staff personnel. In addition, approximately 150 contractor personnel would be employed in areas including catering, concentrate haulage, explosives delivery, and bussing.

Qualified Persons

The Preliminary Economic Assessment is based on a NI43-101 compliant mineral resource estimate completed by Wardrop Engineering Inc. in November 2006.

The followings are the Qualified Persons as defined under National Instrument 43-101:

Geology and mineral resources were reviewed for the study by Pierre Desautels, P.Geo. Wardrop Engineering Inc.

Minable mineral resource, mine planning and design aspects were developed by Gordon Zurowski, P.Eng. and Alex Veresezan, P.Eng., Wardrop Engineering Inc.

Metallurgical test work, completed in 2006, was conducted by SGS Lakefield Research Limited under the supervision of Wardrop Engineering Inc. Mill process and plant design work was done by Wardrop Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Hai Guo with NI 43-101 compliant review by Peter Broad, P.Eng.

Tailings, water supply, site infrastructure and geotechnical studies were conducted by Wardrop Engineering Inc. under the supervision of Philip Davis, P.Eng. and David West, P.Eng.

The resource estimation was reviewed by Douglas Kim, P.Geo., Executive Project Manager for Sabina and a Qualified Person under NI43-101. Mr. Kim has verified the methods used to determine grade and tonnage in the resource model and reviewed the contents of this news release. The NI 43-101 technical report documenting these results has been filed concurrently on with this news release and is available for viewing.

All of the above are independent of the Company except for Mr. Kim.

Current Work and Future Plan

The 2007 work plan includes initiation of a formal environmental impact assessment process, additional definition and exploration drilling, geotechnical drilling and testing, further metallurgical testing and optimization and selected geophysical surveys for additional exploration target areas. These will supplement the existing database and move the Hackett River Project towards a NI43-101 compliant pre-feasibility study following the 2007 work season.

Sabina Silver Corporation is debt free, with approximately C$35 million in working capital cash and securities. In addition to its focus on the Hackett River Project, the company is also advancing the Del Norte Silver-Gold project in the Stewart-Eskay Creek Mining District, British Columbia, in addition to four promising gold projects in the Red Lake Mining District, Ontario.

For further details on Sabina Silver Corporation, please visit the Company's website at


Abraham P. Drost, M.Sc., P.Geo.

401-1113 Jade Court
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada P7B-6M7
Tel 807-766-1799
Fax 807-345-0284
The foregoing securities have not been, nor are there any current plans to register said securities under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and these securities may not be offered or sold within the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of U.S. persons absent U.S. registration or an applicable exemption from U.S. registration requirements. This release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any state where such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

Sabina Silver Corporation does have a Moody's/Mergent Manual ("Blue Sky") exemption allowing distribution without registration in 39 states for secondary trading transactions only. Always consult a Registered Investment Advisor.

The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or the adequacy of this release.

Cautionary Note and Forward-Looking Statements

All information contained in this press release relating to the contents of the preliminary economic assessment, including but not limited to statements of the Hackett River Project's potential and information such as capital and operating costs, production summary, and financial analysis, are "forward looking statements." The information relating to the possible construction of mine and plant facilities also constitutes such "forward looking statements."

The preliminary economic assessment study was prepared to broadly quantify the Hackett River Project's capital and operating cost parameters and to provide guidance on the type and scale of future project engineering and development work that will be needed to ultimately define the project's likelihood of a positive feasibility determination and optimal production rate. It was not prepared to be used as a valuation of the Hackett River Project nor should it be considered to be a final feasibility study on which a commercial production decision could be made. The capital and operating cost estimates which were used have been developed only to an approximate order of magnitude based on generally understood capital cost to production level relationships, and although they are based on engineering studies, these are preliminary so the ultimate costs may vary widely from the amounts set out in the preliminary economic assessment. This could materially adversely impact the projected economics of the Hackett River Project. As is normal at this stage of a project, data in some areas was incomplete and estimates were developed based solely on the expertise of the Company's employees and consultants. At this level of engineering, the criteria, methods and estimates are preliminary and result in a high level of subjective judgment being employed. There can be no assurance that the potential results contained in the preliminary economic assessment will be realized.

The following are the principal risk factors and uncertainties which, in management's opinion, are likely to most directly affect the conclusions of the preliminary economic assessment and the ultimate feasibility of the Hackett River Project. The mineralized material at the Hackett River Project is currently classified as an Indicated and Inferred resource under Canadian mining disclosure standards but readers are cautioned that no part of the Hackett River Project's mineralization is yet considered to be a minable reserve under Canadian or US mining standards. In both jurisdictions, a full feasibility study would be required, which would require more detailed studies. Additionally all necessary mining permits would be required in order to classify the project's mineralized material as an economically exploitable reserve. There can be no assurance that this mineralized material will become classifiable as a reserve and there is no assurance as to the amount, if any, which might ultimately qualify as a reserve or what the grade of such reserve amounts would be.

Final feasibility work has not been completed to confirm the mine design, mining methods and processing methods assumed in the preliminary economic assessment study. Final feasibility could determine that the assumed mine design, mining methods and processing methods are not correct. Construction and operation of the mine and processing facilities depend on securing environmental and other permits on a timely basis. No operating permits have been applied for and there can be no assurance that required permits can be secured or secured on a timely basis. Data is not complete and cost estimates have been developed, in part, based on the expertise of the individuals participating in the preparation of the pre-feasibility study and on costs at projects believed to be comparable, and not based on firm price quotes. Costs, including design, procurement, construction and on-going operating costs and metal recoveries could be materially different from those contained in the preliminary economic assessment. There can be no assurance that mining can be conducted at the rates and grades assumed in the preliminary economic assessment. There can be no assurance that these infrastructure facilities can be developed on a timely and cost-effective basis. Energy risks include the potential for significant increases in the cost of fuel and electricity. The preliminary economic assessment assumes specified, long-term and relatively stable prices levels for zinc and silver. The prices of these metals are historically volatile, and the Company has no control of or influence on the prices, which are determined in international markets. There can be no assurance that the prices of zinc and silver will continue at current levels or that they will not decline below the prices assumed in the preliminary economic assessment. Prices for zinc and silver have been below the price ranges assumed in preliminary economic assessment at times during the past ten years, and for extended periods of time. The project will require major financing, probably a combination of debt and equity financing. Interest rates are at historically low levels. There can be no assurance that debt and/or equity financing will be available on acceptable terms. A significant increase in costs of capital could materially adversely affect the value and feasibility of constructing the project. Other general risks include those ordinary to very large construction projects, including the general uncertainties inherent in engineering and construction cost, the need to comply with generally increasing environmental obligations, and accommodation of Inuit aboriginal, and other local community concerns as well as Canadian provincial and federal environmental standards for such projects. The economics of the Hackett River Project are sensitive to the US Dollar and Canadian dollar exchange rate and this rate has been subject to large fluctuations in the last several years.

Contact Information

  • Abraham P. Drost
    M.Sc., P.Geo.
    401-1113 Jade Court
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    Canada P7B-6M7
    Tel 807-766-1799
    Fax 807-345-0284