- Initial regional drilling confirms nickel laterite of potential economic interest
EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire) - Mindoro Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE: MIO); (FRANKFURT:WKN 906167) today announced it has completed a concept study through Hatch Associates Pty Limited, an international firm of consulting engineers (Perth office), into thermal upgrading of nickel lateritic material on its Agata Project in the Philippines. Unprocessed laterite contains from 30% up to 45% moisture. Thermal upgrading removes the moisture from the material which improves blending and handling properties. Most importantly, this dramatically reduces the shipping cost, which, in combination, achieves a premium price over unprocessed Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) material. Further upgrading of the nickel content can be achieved through optional process enhancements.
The Company has an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) approved to develop a DSO project, subject to certain lesser permit requirements, producing up to two million dry metric tonnes (DMT) per annum. Preliminary discussions with potential offtakers have confirmed there is a market for limonite material containing greater than 0.9% Nickel and greater than 48% Iron as Nickel Pig-Iron feedstock, and for saprolite material containing greater than 1.5% Nickel for Electric Arc Furnace Ferronickel production. A preliminary DSO study is in progress, based on the September 9, 2010, resource, investigating various open pit optimization scenarios which will allow the Company to develop an economic model around this stage of the project. However, DSO is viewed as an interim development stage prior to the commencement of downstream, value-added processing, such as thermal upgrading.
The Company is undertaking further review of markets for both DSO and thermally upgraded laterite product, and the capital and operating costs for their production, before completing a pre-feasibility study and testing program.
The company's production objectives are intended to provide an indication of management's current expectations and are still conceptual in nature. It is uncertain that sufficient resources will be established and if established that these resources will be converted into economically viable mining reserves. Until a feasibility study has been completed, there is no certainty that these objectives will be met.
Agata Nickel Project Stage 2: Acid Leach Processing
On October 6, 2010, the Company released Scoping Study results that indicate potential to establish a low operating cost nickel operation based on established acid leaching technology. Three scenarios were modeled, the first two of which involve a combination of High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) and Atmospheric Leach (AL) technologies processing both limonite and saprolite. The third option was AL processing of saprolite only. All three options make use of saprolite ore for primary neutralization, improving acid utilization and increasing metal extraction. At this stage there is insufficient resource available to pursue the combined HPAL/AL options. The regional drilling program is currently testing the exploration target (see update below) in order to increase the resource base to the required level to justify advancing these options.
However there is sufficient saprolite material within the current Agata resource to consider the AL only option. This option processes saprolite to produce an intermediate Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP) product, and has production capacity of 14,300 tonnes of nickel per annum contained in the MHP. The estimated average cash-cost of production for this case (after year three) is US$3.25 per pound of nickel before cobalt credits. The Capital Cost estimate for this processing option, including acid production plant, is US$740 million. This includes a direct cost of US$479 million, indirect costs (EPCM and construction services) of US$91 million and a 30% contingency.
The September 9, 2010, Agata saprolite resource is 22.4 million DMT @ 1.09% Nickel. The Scoping Study examined a sub-set of that material totaling 8.9 million tonnes @ 1.15% Nickel, that excludes high-grade DSO material and low grade that would be suitable for saprolite neutralization.
The Integrated, Staged, Agata Nickel Laterite Project
The Company is sufficiently encouraged subject to further DSO and thermal upgrading studies, and the Scoping Study into acid leach processing, to seek indicative quotes to produce a pre-feasibility study into an integrated, staged nickel project. This study would examine the viability of an initial DSO then thermal upgrading stage, followed by an atmospheric leach project processing predominantly saprolitic material.
Boyd Willis, MAusIMM, of Boyd Willis Hydromet Consulting (BWHC), an independent qualified person as defined by NI 43-101, has verified and authorized the technical information detailed in this release that refers to the Agata Nickel Project Scoping Study. Boyd Willis has 29 years of experience as a professional process engineer including in technical positions at Kwinana Nickel Refinery in Western Australia and the QNI nickel laterite project in North Queensland, and experience on other nickel laterite projects around the world.
Regional Exploration Drilling
The Company is also pleased to report that initial drilling and channel sampling on its northern Surigao Exploration Target have encountered nickel laterite grades and thicknesses of potential economic interest. The Company has received results from the first 82 holes, comprising 850 meters, of a 7,000 to 10,000 meter drill program. With four rigs drilling over the next six to nine months, the Company's objective is to convert a significant proportion of a large Exploration Target to a NI 43-101 compliant Mineral Resource. The Exploration Target is currently estimated at 50 million to 70 million DMT at 0.9% to 1.2% nickel.
The reader is cautioned that the potential quantity and grade of the Exploration Target is conceptual in nature; it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the Exploration Target being delineated as a mineral resource and there is no guarantee that these resources, if delineated, will be economic or sufficient to support a commercial mining operation.
A table of all drill results is available with this release on Mindoro's website. Highlights included the following:
-- TML-05: Combined 5.9m @ 1.17% Ni from 2.35m including Limonite 3m @
1.34% Ni, 37% Fe
-- TML-32: Saprolite 4.5m @ 1.0% Ni from 1.05m
-- TML-46: Saprolite 4.9m @ 0.99% Ni from 1.80m
-- TML-50: Saprolite 3.2m @ 0.99% Ni from 2.60m
-- TML-103: Saprolite 2.35m @ 1.09% Ni from 0.35m
In addition to drilling, excellent nickel results were obtained through systematic channel sampling of well-developed and exposed limonite horizons. Ten centimeter by ten centimeter by one meter channels were excavated at 25 meter intervals along 350 meters of road cut. The upper limonite averaged 0.61 percent nickel and 35 percent iron over 1.5 meters thickness and the lower limonite averaged 1.07 percent nickel and 42 percent iron over one meter thickness which remains open to depth.
The geology of the initial area tested is more complex than encountered in the Agata resource and includes an eastern belt underlain by a complex of mixed ultra-mafics and other less favorable rocks, and a western belt where serpentinized harzburgite bedrock underlays a thick laterite horizon. Drilling is now focused on the western belt. The main part of this belt, while within the Company's tenements, is covered by a land-use area designated, amongst other things, for cash-cropping, but which Mindoro is mandated and entitled to explore by virtue of its pre-existing mineral tenement agreement with the Philippine Government. Mindoro is currently negotiating access for drilling, but in the meantime, the systematic channel sampling described above was completed across a road-cut through this area.
Tony Climie, P.Geol, is the company's Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, who is responsible for monitoring the supervision and quality control of Mindoro's regional exploration programs and who has reviewed and verified the technical information contained in this news release.
Mindoro is a Tier 1 Issuer trading on the TSX Venture Exchange (MIO) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (WKN 906167). Mindoro is focused on exploration in the Philippines with a strategy of advancing early stage opportunities to production or joint venture. Mindoro controls major nickel laterite resources in the Surigao District, Mindanao, where potential for a value-added direct shipping ore (DSO) operation to generate early cash flow is being advanced as well as large scale potential for an onsite processing plant.
Mindoro has NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimates on its Agata nickel-cobalt project totaling Measured and Indicated 32.6 million dry metric tonnes (DMT) at 1.04% Nickel and 0.05% Cobalt and Inferred 1.68 million DMT at 1.04% Nickel, 0.04% Cobalt. The Surigao regional Exploration Target is 50 million to 70 million DMT at 0.9% to 1.2% Nickel (See press releases dated January 11 and September 8, 2010). Drilling of the Surigao nickel laterite Exploration Target is in progress.
Mindoro also has NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimates on both its Lobo and Archangel (Kay Tanda) gold-silver projects. Mindoro has identified 22 porphyry copper-gold prospects and has three projects in the Batangas area of southern Luzon which are the subject of a farm-in arrangement whereby Gold Fields Ltd may earn 75 percent interest through direct project expenditure.
Drilling on the American Tunnels project has confirmed potential for a near-surface, bulk-tonnage gold target and porphyry copper-gold targets. Other objectives include progressing joint venture discussions on Mindoro's porphyry copper-gold prospects at Surigao.
This release may contain forward-looking statements including management's assessments of future plans and operations, and expectations of future production. These statements are based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These risks include, but are not limited to, the risks associated with the mining and exploration industry (e.g. operational risks in development, exploration and production; delays or changes in plans with respect to exploration or development projects or capital expenditures; the uncertainty of reserve estimates; the uncertainty with respect to results of exploration, the uncertainty of estimates and projections relating to production and the uncertainty of the availability of capital). The assumptions used in the preparation of such statements, although considered reasonable at the time of preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update forward looking statements except where required to do so by law.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
Mindoro Resources Ltd.
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