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:: Apex Silver San Cristobal Produces First Concentrates
Apex Silver Mines Limited has announced the first production of silver bearing concentrates from the San Cristobal zinc, lead and silver mine in Southwestern Bolivia. The plant reached mechanical completion in late June 2007 and began start-up commissioning in early July. We expect the first rail shipments from the plant later this week.
As of July 31st, more than three and a half million tonnes of ore have been stockpiled for the concentrator. The primary crusher and overland conveyor are operating at design rates delivering ore to the coarse ore stockpile. With production testing ongoing and operating with a previously untrained workforce, the plant is operating with the semi-autogenous mill (SAG) and one of two ball mills. Processing the harder of the two ore types in the San Cristobal ore body, we have achieved continuous throughput of 19,000 tonnes per day, within five percent of design capacity. The second ball mill motor has been repaired and is being commissioned, and we expect continuous production from this ball mill in early September.
The flotation circuit has been commissioned and we are producing both silver bearing lead and zinc concentrates. The filtration and load out system has been commissioned and concentrate containers are being loaded for rail transport to the port at Mejillones, Chile.
All other systems including the well field, tailing system, railroad, and other supporting systems have been commissioned and are generally performing as anticipated.
The plant will continue in startup and commissioning during August with emphasis on commissioning of the zinc regrind circuit and fine tuning throughout the flotation plant including improvements in the calibration of instruments and tuning of control loops and level controls in the plant. In addition, we expect to complete commissioning of the second ball mill, together with final processes and coordination with Bolivian power providers, in early September.
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