Björn Junker:Steve, welcome.
Steve Williams: Welcome.
Björn Junker: The news yesterday only was very good about a sale you made of the Pinargozu material you mined recently. Can you tell us a bit about that? Why that is a special use for you?
Steve Williams: Yes, in August we put in a third adit into the mine. It’s a bigger adit and enabled us to get deeper down into the deposit, into the mineralization. And so what we announced yesterday was our first sale of 991 tons, grading 47% zinc, of sulfide that we mined from this new adit. And, well, it’s sulfide, it’s very high grade, and the only good thing is it’s very valuable. We sold it for over $700 U.S. per ton, so we’re very pleased about this.
Björn Junker: So you’re going to have higher margins there than with the oxide material you’ve been mining so far, which, of course, always nice to have, also with the rising zinc price. When we talk about you been mining, and you just opened a third adit at the mine, so can you tell us what that did for you? How things changed?
Steve Williams: Yeah, the third adit is very important. It’s basically enabled us to double the production. With the two adits, we were mining about 60 tons per day, which was about 20 million pounds of zinc, 80 million pounds of zinc per year. With the new adit, we’ve been able to double production, so we’re now around 120 tons per day and about 30 million pounds of zinc annualized basis. So it’s a big step up in production, and the other thing, which come next to the news from yesterday, is that we’re now starting to see sulfides because we’re deeper down in the deposit, and so we’re starting to see sulfides. And the good thing about the sulfides is it’s even higher grade and it’s more valuable. So positive steps forward.
Björn Junker: So as I said, Pasinex is still exploring. Also because of the nature of the deposit you have there. But also, because you want to, in the fullness of time, publish a resource, which you haven’t been doing so far because you just started mining, to say it simply. Can you explain a bit about that and let us know when you think a resource might be available?
Steve Williams: Yeah, I mean, the story there, Björn, is that the last three years have been tough for the mining and exploration game and as we came into Pinargozu, we recognized we had something very unique, we had a very unique deposit with extremely high grade zinc. You know, I think it’s one of the few deposits like that in the world, if not the only one. And so given the tough times and, you know, hard to raise money and all that, it was better for us to go in and mine. You know, nothing better than a resource than actually producing because that’s the game, that’s what you’re there for, so we went in and mined. We had been building resource internally. We need it because we need it for mine planning. So you have to build a resource to do the mine planning. And I recognize that the market does need to see a resource so I’m thinking within the next…certainly by mid-next year we should publish a resource because we do have one internally. But as I said, coming back to it, our priority was really to get in and mine.
Björn Junker: And you also managed to do that because you’re working with the 50-50 joint venture partner Turkish mining company, a big Turkish mining company. And so, I guess, you have set yourself some goals for the next year too. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Steve Williams: Bigger and better, that’s the simple answer to that one. But, no, I’ll elucidate a bit more than that, Björn. But basically, look, this resource keeps growing on us. We’ve got two drills constantly running, we keep getting, you know, pleasing results. We published some of our drill results over the summer. So we keep getting pleasing results and we’re still drilling so I think we can go even higher in production and that’s where we will go. So we’re currently around 120 ton per day. I’ve set a target for next year, it’ll take us probably most of the year to get there, but I’ve set a target for later next year to get to 200 ton per day, so another significant step up. We’ll have to do a lot more mine development, but, you know, we can do that. As you say, our partner is excellent at doing that sort of work. And that will then take us from around 30 million pounds of zinc to up to 50 million pounds of zinc, so then we start to be a very significant zinc producer in the global scheme of things.
Björn: Thank you. Certainly sounds interesting. Interesting times for you ahead. And also at the moment, and probably in the future, the zinc price is playing into your hands. It’s been rising, there’s been mine closures. Can you tell us a bit how a rise in zinc prices will affect your earnings, so to speak? Generally speaking and no hard data.
Steve Williams: Well, it’s pretty simple, it just brings a big smile to my face. I mean, you know, couldn’t have timed it better. It’s just magnificent. You know, I think back earlier this year, the zinc price was down 80 cents U.S. per pound, something like that. As of two days ago, it was $1.10 U.S. per pound, so that’s a big, you know, percentage increase and we’re producing, so as we produce, we’re selling at a higher price. We’re not contracted on our sales, we sell all our product as spot-sales, so it means we realize, you know, the upside on the price. So, yeah, it couldn’t be better to be building a zinc mine right now.
Björn: Well I think that’s a very good closing remark. Thank you, Steve.
Steve Williams: Thank you.