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Feb 07, 2008
Update on Agata Nickel Laterite Project
EDMONTON, Alberta; February 7, 2008 - Mindoro Resources Ltd. (TSXV: MIO; Frankfurt: WKN 906167) is pleased to provide an update on its Agata nickel laterite. On the Agata North project, a Phase 2 drilling program has commenced, a NI 43-101 resource estimate is in preparation, and mine planning and permitting are well advanced. On the Agata South - Delta joint venture project, 147 drill holes have been completed to date. While initial plans are for Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) operations on both projects, due to the large tonnage potential of Agata and evolution of attractive processing technologies applicable to Philippine ores, enhanced value, local processing alternatives are being actively evaluated. Mindoro has recently received several written expressions of interest to take product from Agata.
AGATA NORTH PROJECT
A total of 134 drill holes have been completed to the end of the Phase 1 drilling program, which finished in August 2007. All assay results have previously been reported. Results were most encouraging and a Phase 2 drill program commenced in December 2007, with two drill rigs. A further two drill rigs have been added to the project. For the Phase 1 program, conventional diamond drilling was used. However, due to the possibility of water washing the lateritic core, thereby reducing the reported grade, Phase 2 is using a dry drilling technique, but drilling is much slower. In the Phase 2 program to date, three holes have been completed and two are ongoing. Eighty-two samples will be submitted this week for assay analysis to the McPhar Philippine laboratory.
Preparation of a National Instrument 43-101 mineral resource estimate report has commenced. This will cover the area drilled to date, which is just a small part of the interpreted nickel laterite mineralization at Agata. This will be the basis for the initial DSO and enable economic evaluations to be released. Drilling will continue to expand and define the Exploration Target (see "About the Agata Nickel Laterite Project" below). The scope of the 43-101 report is far less than for the Kay Tanda gold project, the results of which were released on February 6, 2008, and the Agata report is expected to be completed by early Q2 of this year. The report will be followed immediately by scoping and feasibility studies.
Mindoro is continuing to fast-track the DSO scenario with the objective of achieving production in 2008. The bench level plans are in preparation for the detailed mine planning design and grade control blending purposes. Construction of the on-site accommodation for mine construction crews is commencing. Mining fleet equipment inspection has been carried out, and tender specifications are being prepared for mine, haul road and causeway construction. Permitting for all phases of the operation is well-advanced.
AGATA SOUTH PROJECT -- DELTA JOINT VENTURE
On August 23, 2007, the Company announced it had reached agreement with Delta Earthmoving Inc., an experienced nickel laterite mining contractor, to explore, and advance to production if warranted, the Agata South nickel laterite project. The agreement does not cover Agata North. To date, a total of 147 drill holes have been completed on Agata South. Assays have not yet been reported.
Mine planning for an initial DSO operation, to commence in conjunction with Agata North, is advancing. This gives the Company the opportunity to advance another nickel laterite prospect to production at no risk and cost, and the potential to share in additional significant cash flow.
The reader is cautioned that the nickel laterite mineralization at both the Agata North and South projects are currently exploration targets only. The Company has not yet established mineral resources or mineral reserves that would support a commercial mining operation. There is no guarantee that future exploration will result in the discovery of mineral resources or that these resources, if delineated, will be economic or sufficient to support a commercial mining operation. Until a feasibility study has been completed there is no certainty that the company's projections will be economically viable.
ENHANCED VALUE PROCESSING ALTERNATIVES
Mineralization grades and thicknesses encountered to date meet Company expectations and are in line with requirements for DSO ferro-nickel feedstock; demand for which remains strong, especially for material grading in excess of 1.2 percent nickel, which Mindoro anticipates will comprise the bulk of its material. Philippine nickel laterite ores generally have lower moisture, sulfur and phosphorous content than its competitors in New Caledonia and Indonesia. In particular, Agata has strong competitive advantages, with good grades, just two to three kilometres from tide water, with corresponding low haul distance and costs, and only two days shipping from China. Uniquely, DSO nickel laterite operations have a low-capital cost and offer a rapid route to production and cash-flow.
However, it is management's strong conviction that the real future for the Agata Project is for enhanced value, local processing. Mindoro management believes that it has excellent potential to outline sufficient resources to support this concept. Several attractive alternatives are emerging, which include:, at the low technology end of the spectrum, constructing a blast or electric furnace for nickel pig iron production (low grade ferro-nickel product which is increasingly entrenching itself as a substitute for refined nickel in stainless steel production), atmospheric leaching for which pilot testing on another Philippine laterite has produced promising results, and a new generation of High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) plants. The new generation HPAL plants are being used by Sumitomo on its Philippine Coral Bay operation. This HPAL technology has much lower capital costs and is far more efficient than HPAL operations previously attempted in Australia. Sumitomo recently announced a doubling of capacity at Coral Bay, and plans to construct a new HPAL plant in the Surigao District.
We see abundant evidence that we are at the beginning of a trend for local/on-site processing of Philippine laterite ores and the growth of a large high-value industry in the Philippines.
ABOUT THE AGATA NICKEL LATERITE PROJECT
The nickel laterite prospect is situated on the Agata Project, Surigao Gold District, northern Mindanao, Philippines. There are several nickel laterite mines already in production in the Surigao District, providing DSO to markets and processing plants in China, Japan, Korea and Australia. The geological extension of the Agata nickel laterite mineralization into an adjacent property, two kilometres south of Agata, is in production and product is being shipped to markets in China (see map accompanying this release).
As reported on March 13, 2007, the current objective on the Agata North project is to define a NI 43-101 compliant resource adequate, initially, for three to five years of production at a rate of 500,000 to 700,000 wet metric tonnes per annum of direct shipping-grade material for the ferro-nickel markets of China, India and Korea. Mindoro has a target production date of the first half of 2008, and would ramp up production to one million tonnes or more per year thereafter depending on market demand. The initial drill program covers less than 15 percent of the area of nickel laterite mineralization mapped to date at Agata. On June 20, 2007, Mindoro released a revised global Exploration Target for the Agata North project as follows:
Combined ferruginous overburden, limonite and saprolite horizons: 50 to 60 million wet metric tonnes (WMT) at a grade of 0.9 to 1.1 percent nickel and 28 to 32 percent iron. This includes the following division of tonnage between the overburden/limonite horizon and the saprolite horizon:
• Combined ferruginous overburden and limonite horizons: 30 to 35 million WMT of material at a grade of 0.9 to 1.1 percent nickel and 40 to 44 percent iron.
• Underlying saprolite horizon: 20 to 25 million WMT of material at a grade of 1.0 to 1.4 percent nickel and 8 to 10 percent iron.
The reader is cautioned that the potential quantity and grade of the Exploration Target described is conceptual in nature, that there has been insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource and that it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the target being delineated as a mineral resource. Until a feasibility study has been completed there is no certainty that the Company's projections will be economically viable.
The northern nickel laterite mineralization covers approximately 340 hectares. As shown on the accompanying map, a total of 137 drill holes have been completed to date within this area. Average thicknesses and grades encountered and a specific gravity of 1.20 and 1.50 grams per cubic centimetre were used for the limonite and saprolite ore respectively to arrive at the above Exploration Target. The Exploration Target does not include significant thicknesses of low-grade, partially lateritized saprolitic rock, grading in the 0.6 to 0.8 percent nickel range, that also has market potential. Nor does it include additional areas of nickel laterite mineralization further south on the Agata Project.
This Exploration Target will form the basis for evaluating several attractive value-added processing options, as noted above. In the meantime, Mindoro will continue to fast-track the DSO scenario with the objective of achieving production in 2008.
Programs are carried out under the supervision of Tony Climie, P.Geol. President of Mindoro, who is a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101. Sample preparation and assaying is being performed by McPhar Laboratory of Manila, an ISO 9001/2000 accredited laboratory. Ni, Co, Fe, MgO and Al2O3 assays are performed by AAS after an HCl-HNO3-HClO4 digest, and SiO2 by gravimetric method. Normal Quality Control and Quality Assurance procedures are being carried out, using a system of duplicate, standard and blank samples.
Mindoro is a Tier 1 Issuer trading on the TSX Venture Exchange (MIO) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (WKN 906167). In addition to advancing the Agata nickel laterite project towards production, Mindoro has announced an initial 43-101 compliant gold-silver mineral resources estimate on its Kay Tanda gold-silver project, and is proceeding to advance this project. The Company has also identified 22 porphyry copper-gold prospects in the Philippines and has an aggressive strategy of drilling multiple targets in 2008.
For further information, contact:
Executive Vice President
Ascenta Capital Partners Inc.
Toll Free: 1.866.684.4209 ext. 228
The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
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 of estimates and projections relating to production). 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.
You can view the Next Press Releases item: Tue Feb 26, 2008, Expanded Nickel Laterite Resource Potential Enhances Foundation for Value-Added, Local Processing
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