Toronto, Ontario, December 9, 2009. Noront Resources Ltd. (“Noront” or the “Company”) (TSX Venture: NOT) is pleased to present an initial resource estimate for a portion of its Blackbird chromite deposit, McFaulds Lake Project.
- Measured and indicated resource of 8.9 million tonnes sufficient for a 15 year project producing 200,000 – 225,000 tonnes of ferrochrome annually and a further inferred resource of 6.0 million tonnes with the potential to add an additional 10 years to the project. Mineralization remains open at depth;
- Canada’s first independent NI-43-101 resource estimate for chromite;
- Estimate based on 154 drill holes (52,375 metres);
- The resource is a classic stratiform deposit with original chromite layers broken up into segments 300 to 400 metres in length;
- The chromite layers are sub-vertical and extend from surface to beyond 300 metres;
- There are four massive segments, grading approximately 35% Cr2O3 and ranging from 7 to 18 metres in average true thickness;
- There are two intercalated lenses, grading approximately 25 to 28% Cr2O3 and ranging in thickness from 150 to 200 metres;
- All chromite layers are open at depth and additional gravity targets that have potential to expand the resource have not been drill tested to date; and
- Deposit geometry is very well suited for a low impact, underground mine with a limited environmental footprint.
During the fourth quarter of 2008, Noront’s management committed the funding necessary to identify a chromite resource at Blackbird. Management’s objective was to define a Measured and Indicated chromite resource sufficient to support a 200,000 to 225,000 tonne per annum ferrochrome furnace for 15 years. At then current prices, Noront management estimated that a project of this size would generate approximately $500 million in revenue per year.
By the second quarter of 2009, Noront had completed 154 drill holes totaling 52,375 metres on the Blackbird chromite project. Drilling was completed on sections spaced at 50 metres. Noront contracted Micon International Ltd. (“Micon”), one of only a few North American firms with the requisite expertise and experience to estimate chromite resources, to complete an NI 43-101 resource estimate and Technical Report.
Micon estimated the massive and intercalated resources independently. The layers of massive chromite lenses host a Measured and Indicated resource of 7.6 million tonnes grading 36% Cr2O3 with a chrome to iron ratio of 1.94 Cr:Fe. A further 3.5 million tonnes @ 35% Cr2O3 and 1.95 Cr:Fe are classified as Inferred resources. The currently identified Measured and Indicated resource is more than adequate to supply a 200,000 to 225,000 tonne per annum ferrochrome facility for at least 15 years, the design goal of the drill program approved by Noront in 2008. Infill drilling of the identified Inferred resource has the potential to add a further 5-10 years of production and, more importantly, the deposit remains open at depth. The intercalated resource can readily be upgraded to a high quality concentrate, offering an additional 5-10 years of mine life.
Noront’s President and CEO, Wes Hanson, states: “The Blackbird chromites are analogous and typical of Kemi-type deposits, characterized by lensoid bodies of layered chromite several tens of metres thick and several hundreds of metres in size. We are very pleased to deliver Canada’s first 43-101 resource estimate for the Blackbird chromite deposits and I am grateful that our Board of Directors had the foresight to approve the exploration expenditures that led to the completion of this estimate. This estimate represents a starting point for Noront’s chromite resource, as there is excellent potential to increase the resource in the future. Once again, Noront has delivered value to our shareholders by being proactive and leading the charge in the Ring of Fire. Wes Hanson further stated; “This near surface resource is more than adequate to support a 200,000 to 225,000 tonne per annum ferrochrome furnace for 15 years with potential for an additional 10 years based on the inferred resources; which actually exceeds the objective mandated by our Board late last year. The deposits remain open at depth but our focus going forward will be to ensure sufficient metallurgical testing is completed and all reasonable design alternatives are considered during our preliminary engineering studies. We are currently in the process of evaluating alternatives for developing our many mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire. The close proximity of the Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-platinum-palladium deposit, the Blackbird chromite deposit, the Eagle Two nickel-copper deposit and the Triple J gold deposit now being referred to as the “Eagle’s Nest – Blackbird Complex”) provides a unique opportunity whereby all four deposits can be potentially accessed and developed from a centrally located shaft. This central infrastructure will radically reduce the environmental footprint of the project area and will eliminate the operational and geotechnical uncertainty and capital cost associated with open-pit dewatering dikes. An underground mine at this location provides a stable, climate controlled work area that can easily be operated year-round. Our work is presently conceptual in nature but we, as a management team, believe that there is excellent potential in this centralized approach to reduce operating and capital costs and to minimize our environmental footprint.”
Jeremy Niemi, P.Geo., Noront’s Vice President Geology also notes: “Opportunities to increase the chromite resource can be realized through additional drilling, both at depth and with targeted infill drilling. Incomplete sampling has resulted in a general understatement of grade that we can address in the future through re-sampling programs. Combined with yet untested geophysical targets in the vicinity of the deposits, there are excellent opportunities for resource expansion.”
Micon is currently in the process of completing the NI 43-101 Technical Report supporting the estimate and this Technical Report will be filed with SEDAR and made available on the Company’s website within 45 days of this press release. The table following this press release summarizes Micon’s resource estimate.
Preparation of this press release has been supervised by Noront’s senior management including Jeremy Niemi, P.Geo. Vice President, Geology, who is a Qualified Person under Canadian Securities Administrators guidelines. The contents of this press release have been read and approved by Mr. R. Gowans, P.Eng, Micon International Ltd., who is a Qualified Person under Canadian Securities Administrators guidelines.
For further information on the McFaulds Lake Property, please refer to the Company’s NI 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects compliant technical report “Technical Report and Preliminary Economic Assessment on the Eagle One Deposit, Double Eagle Property, McFaulds Lake Area, James Bay Lowlands, Ontario” (effective: October 20, 2008) available on the Company’s website and at www.sedar.com
BLACKBIRD MINERAL RESOURCE SUMMARY REPORT BY CATEGORY
MASSIVE CHROMITE RESOURCES
|Deposit||Zone||Tonnes||Avg Cr203||Cr:Fe Ratio|
|BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-1||1,635,000||38.42||1.97|
|BLACKBIRD 1||BB 1||1,895,000||36.56||1.97|
|BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-1||816,000||36.75||1.94|
|Total Measured and Indicated||7,562,000||36.34||1.94|
|BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-1||2,142,000||36,07||1.95|
INTERCALATED CHROMITE RESOURCES (FRAGMENTED ZONES)
|Deposit||Zone||Tonnes||Avg Cr203||Cr:Fe Ratio|
|Measured||BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-3a(301)||450,000||20.35||1.39|
|BB 2-3b (302)||537,000||29.63||1.79|
|Indicated||BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-3a (301)||245,000||25.42||1.55|
|BB 2-3b (302)||61,000||28.31||1.67|
|Total Measured and Indicated||1,293,000||25.54||1.60|
|BLACKBIRD 2||BB 2-3a (301)||121,000||22.38||1.37|
|Inferred||BB 2-3b (302)||185,000||30.51||1.84|
|BB 2-Lenses (50)||2,280,000||31.94||1.78|
Note: MICON International Limited, (“Micon”) is an independent consulting firm commissioned by Noront Resources Ltd. The Micon estimate was prepared under the supervision of Mr Richard Gowans, P. Eng and Mr. Charley Murahwi, M.Sc., P.Geo, MAusIMM who are “Qualified Persons” for the purposes of NI43-101 in Canada. The estimate has been completed to NI43-101 definitions and standards and were calculated using the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), CIM Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions and Guidelines prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions and adopted by CIM Council December 11, 2005. The estimate capped high values for chromite at 43%. The estimate was completed using a cutoff of 30% Cr2O3 for the massive chromite and 0% Cr2O3 for the intercalated chromite. All sample preparation and analyses were completed at Activation Laboratory, ISO 17025 accredited and independent of Noront Resources and Micon. Micon inspected the facilities in Thunder Bay on July 9 and 10, 2009. Micon observed that the sample preparation was carried out to the highest industry standards. All sample batches were submitted to the laboratory with suitable reference material, blanks and duplicates inserted into the sample batches by Noront at the Esker Camp prior to shipment. Micon has reviewed the QA/QC data and determined that the analyses have been completed to acceptable standards. Micon has completed a site visit from July 6 through 9, 2009. Micon estimated the mineral resource from a block model based on geological interpretation. Drill data (analytical and geological) was interpreted on section to develop polygons representing the chromite deposits. These polygons were used to create solids of the chromite deposits. The solids were used to isolate the analytical data internal and external to the solids. A total of five solids representing the known chromite layers discovered to date were generated. The sample data internal and external to each solid was evaluated statistically to determine appropriate composite intervals and to establish the density relative to the chromite content. The statistical analyses determined a grade cap of 43% was appropriate for estimation purposes. This level of grade cap affects approximately 400 samples. Statistical analysis determined a composite interval of 1.5 metres was appropriate. Geostatistical analysis was conducted to determine the optimum drill spacing for resources categorization. On this basis the search ellipse for grade interpolation was defined. A block model was generated to allow grade estimation into the individual model cells. The inverse distance cubed method was utilized for better selectivity and the resource generated was validated using ordinary Kriging Density was assigned based on the chromite content of each sample composite based on a sliding scale with 0% chromite assigned a density of 2.8 t/m3 and 30%+ chromite assigned a density of 3.8 t/m3. Each 5-10% interval of chromite was assigned a unique density in the model. The classification of Measured, Indicated and Inferred was determined statistically based on the variography. The model was evaluated, tested and verified for accuracy and a block tabulation at various cutoff grades for chromite was utilized to estimate the global resource.
Mineral resources, which are not mineral reserves, do not have demonstrated economic viability. The estimate of mineral resources may also be materially affected by environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, socio-political, marketing or other relevant issues. There is no guarantee that Noront will be successful in obtaining any or all of the requisite consents, permits or approvals, regulatory or otherwise for the project or that the project will be placed into production. Micon is currently in the process of completing the NI 43-101 Technical Report supporting the estimate and the Technical Report will be filed within 45 days of this press release with SEDAR at www.sedar.com and made available on the Company’s website at www.norontresources.com.
Under Noront’s current Offer, for each seven (7) Freewest shares held, Noront will issue two (2) freely tradeable Noront shares and one (1) five-year (5) purchase warrant with a strike price of C$4.00. The implied value at the time of the offer was estimated to be C$0.86 per Freewest share and is currently C$0.95 per Freewest share.
Noront’s Offer expires on December 11, 2009. All Freewest shareholders are urged to tender their shares to the Noront bid, the only bid that will provide all Freewest Shareholders with the opportunity to participate in the upside of the Ring of Fire
For more information on the Freewest Offer, please visit Noront’s website at www.norontresources.com or contact Noront’s Investor Relations Department at +1 (416) 367 1444. ext 126
To tender your Freewest shares, please contact;
Laurel Hill at Laurel Hill Advisory Group
North American Toll Free Phone: +1 (888) 882 6742
Outside North America, Banks and Brokers Call Collect: +1 (416) 637 4661
Noront Resources Ltd. is focused on its significant and multiple, high-grade nickel-copper-platinum-palladium, chromite and vanadium discoveries in an area known as the “Ring of Fire”, an emerging multi-metals district located in the James Bay Lowlands of Ontario, Canada. Noront is the dominant land holder at the Ring of Fire and continues to delineate and prove up its discoveries with NI 43-101 technical and economic reports and an aggressive and well financed drill plan for the remainder of 2009 and 2010. All material information on Noront can be found on the Company’s website at www.norontresources.com or at SEDAR at www.sedar.com
For further information please contact Joanne Jobin, Vice President Corporate Communications at (416) 367-1444 ext 126, or visit Noront’s website at: http://www.norontresources.com.
Wesley (Wes) Hanson
Chief Executive Officer