Scorpio Mining reports record silver production in Q1 2011 and increases mine operating earnings by 123% from Q4 2010

Scorpio Mining announced its unaudited financial and operating results for the first quarter of 2011.

Performance Highlights:

Q1 2011 Q1 2010
Revenue (‘000 of $CAD) $18,265 $6,022
Mine operating earnings (‘000 of $CAD) $12,547 $1,359
Gain on dilution and deconsolidation of
Scorpio Gold Corporation (‘000 of $CAD)
$1,051 $19,796
Net earnings (‘000 of $CAD) $6,557 $18,644
Earnings per share – Basic $0.03 $0.17
Earnings per share – Diluted $0.03 $0.16
Adjusted EBITDA(1) (‘000 of $CAD) $11,554 $1,982
Cash operating cost per tonne (1) US$42.93 US$36.80
Cash operating cost per silver equivalent ounce(2) US$7.10 US$8.12
Silver equivalent ounces produced(2) 737,833 419,681

Parviz Farsangi, President & CEO comments, “We are very pleased to report record production of all metals in the first quarter of 2011 and a further substantial increase in mine operating earnings from our turnaround quarter, Q4 2010. Combined with a strong operational cash flow and relatively low operating cost, Scorpio Mining is well positioned among the best performing silver producers with significant base metal by-product credits in¬†Mexico. We are committed to continue building on our current assets with an aggressive exploration program in 2011 and planned plant expansion.”

Highlights for the First Quarter Ended March 31, 2011 and Subsequent Events:

  • The Corporation achieved record mine operating earnings of¬†$12.5 million¬†in Q1 2011, an increase of 823% over mine operating earnings in Q1 2010 and 123% over mine operating earnings in Q4 2010.
  • Net earnings were¬†$6.6 million¬†or¬†$0.03¬†per share (basic) for Q1 2011 compared to¬†$18.6 million¬†or¬†$0.17¬†per share (basic) for Q1 2010. The Q1 2010 net earnings included a¬†$19.8 million¬†gain on dilution and deconsolidation of Scorpio Gold Corporation (“Scorpio Gold”). Basic earnings per share of¬†$0.09¬†in Q4 2010 was due to the inclusion of¬†$12.4 million¬†of non-cash corporate tax recoveries.
  • Adjusted EBITDA(1) increased 483% to¬†$11.6 million¬†in Q1 2011 compared to¬†$2.0 million¬†for Q1 2010.
  • Cash flow from operating activities increased by 506% to¬†$10.8 million¬†in Q1 2011, primarily as a result of higher production, higher grades and better metal prices compared to Q1 2010.
  • Underground ore production in Q1 2011 increased 14% over Q1 2010 to 113,826 tonnes.
  • The Nuestra Se√Īora plant processed 122,062 tonnes in Q1 2011, a 32% increase over Q1 2010.
  • Processed head grades during Q1 2011 averaged 115 g/t silver, 2.49% zinc, 0.98% lead and 0.42% copper compared to 88 g/t silver, 2.07% zinc, 1.17% lead and 0.25% copper during Q1 2010.
  • In Q1 2011, contained metals produced in concentrates amounted to 368,866 ounces of silver, 5.856 million pounds of zinc, 731,000 pounds of copper and 1.835 million pounds of lead; reflecting increases from Q1 2010 of 89%, 68%, 161% and 2%, respectively.
  • Total cash operating cost per silver equivalent ounce(2) in Q1 2011 was US$7.10 (Q1 2010: US$8.12) based on silver equivalent ounces of 737,833 (Q1 2010:419,681).
  • Revenue from metal payable for the quarter totalled¬†$20.8 million¬†(Q1 2010:¬†$7.9 million) and was distributed as follows: silver 53% (2010: 38%); zinc 23% (2010: 33%); lead 9% (2010: 21%); copper 15% (2010: 8%).
  • Following the construction of a new power line and the installation of a sub-station, the Nuestra Se√Īora mine was energized from the national electrical grid on¬†January 19, 2011. This has reduced the mine’s dependence on diesel-generated power.
  • On¬†March 9, 2011, the Corporation announced an updated mineral resource and reserve estimate at its Nuestra Se√Īora mine. The proven and probable reserves increased to 2.764 million tonnes, providing an estimated mine life of six years at current production levels.
  • During Q1 2011, Scorpio Gold issued 21.9 million shares, none of which were subscribed for by the Corporation. This resulted in the Corporation’s investment in Scorpio Gold decreasing from approximately 35% to approximately 27% and creating a gain on dilution recorded in the statement of operations of¬†$1.1 million. On¬†March 24, 2011, the Corporation sold 8,139,568 shares of Scorpio Gold for proceeds of¬†$5.2 million. Following this transaction, Scorpio Mining still holds approximately 19.8 million shares in Scorpio Gold, representing 19.6% of Scorpio Gold issued and outstanding shares.
  • As of¬†March 31, 2011, the Corporation had¬†$27.7 million¬†in cash, compared to¬†$12.6 million¬†as of¬†December 31, 2010. The Corporation used existing cash to repay the¬†$20 million¬†outstanding convertible debentures at maturity on¬†May 5, 2011.
(1) This is a non-IFRS performance measure; please see Non-IFRS Performance Measures section in the Corporation’s Management Discussion & Analysis.
(2) The non-IFRS measure of cash operating cost per silver equivalent ounce is used by the Corporation to manage and evaluate operating performance and is widely reported in the silver mining industry as a benchmark for performance, but does not have a standardized meaning. Silver equivalent above is calculated on a produced metal basis using weighted average Q1 2011 prices of silver US$31.31/oz, zinc US$1.08/lb, lead US$1.14/lb and copper US$4.29/lb.

Outlook

The existing mineral reserves at the Nuestra Se√Īora mine provide the equivalent of six years of production at the current processing capacity of the Nuestra Se√Īora plant. In the Cosal√° district, the Corporation has NI 43-101 compliant mineral resources at the San Rafael and El Caj√≥n projects, as well as having several advanced exploration projects. The Corporation is aggressively advancing its exploration activities to further increase mineral resources and prove additional reserves.

The Nuestra Se√Īora processing plant has an existing capacity of approximately 1,500 tonnes per day (“TPD”), but is expandable up to approximately 4,000 TPD. The Corporation has commenced engineering studies to quantify the investment required for varying expansion scenarios. Other growth alternatives being evaluated include the development of a second processing facility in the Cosal√° district. Such expansion would allow for the diversification of process circuits and reduce the distances between multiple ore sources and processing facilities.

The Corporation will advance feasibility studies for the expansion of processing capacity and make development decisions during 2011.

Scorpio Mining’s¬†Mexico¬†Country Manager, John A. Sadek, B.Eng. (Mining), MAusIMM, is a Qualified Person for the Corporation’s¬†Mexico¬†projects and has reviewed the content of this release.

Read the full news release here. Image of ¬†Nuestra Se√Īora Mine & Mill Inauguration Ceremony is from Scorpio Mining.

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