TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 5, 2012) – Noront Resources Ltd. (“Noront” or the “Company”) (TSX VENTURE:NOT) is pleased to announce the results of an updated National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) compliant Feasibility Study (“FS”) for a stand alone nickel, copper, platinum group element (“Ni-Cu-PGE”) mine and mill complex exploiting the Company’s 100% owned Eagle’s Nest deposit (the “Project”), McFaulds Lake, James Bay Lowlands, Ontario. The results of the independent study, completed by Independent Consultants1 under the supervision of Micon International (“Micon”), confirms that Eagle’s Nest offers robust economics.
FEASIBILITY STUDY HIGHLIGHTS:
A Discounted Cash Flow (“DCF”) based on the Assumed Metal Prices2 indicates:
- an after tax Net Present Value at an 8% discount rate (“NPV(8%)“) of $543 million;
- an after tax IRR exceeding 28%;
- an estimated initial capital investment of $609 million;
- an estimated life of mine sustaining capital cost of $160 million;
- estimated operating costs (including road access fees) of $97 per tonne or $2.34 per pound of nickel equivalent or -$0.31 per pound of nickel net by-product credits;
- an estimated mine life of 11 years; and
- a capital payback period of under 3 years based on a 100% equity project.
Wes Hanson, CEO of Noront states: “The decision of the Province of Ontario to financially support the north-south road corridor pending certain approvals is a very positive development in unlocking the mineral wealth of the Ring of Fire. Our discussions with the Province have confirmed that the all-season road will be accessible to all industrial users including Cliffs and that the costs to use the road will be based on proportional usage, a critical consideration for Noront as our concentrate shipments represent less than seven percent of the currently identified ore haulage along the corridor.“ Mr. Hanson adds: “We are currently focused on site work in advance of project development as we evaluate opportunities to finance project construction. Analysts are predicting a nickel price rally in 2015 and 2016 as demand outstrips supply. This timing matches the planned start of production at Eagle‘s Nest. With nickel production costs in the lowest quartile of existing and planned nickel producers and limited capital costs, Eagle‘s Nest remains one of the most exciting opportunities in the nickel sector today.“
ALL-SEASON ROAD ACCESS:
In a letter dated August 10, 2012, Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (“MNDM”) advised Noront that the Province was in early stage discussions with Cliffs Natural Resources regarding a north – south all-season road that would connect the Ring of Fire to existing provincial infrastructure. The letter confirmed the Province’s intent to contribute financially to develop the proposed all-season road subject to various environmental, regulatory and financial approvals.
MNDM advised Noront that “the current expectation is that the all-season road would be made available for use by industrial users other than Cliffs, with access fees generally based on proportional road usage, although specific terms are still to be determined.”
Details on the estimated capital costs of the proposed north-south road have not been provided to Noront. However, Cliffs has publically stated that the cost of their proposed integrated transportation system is budgeted at $600 million. This cost is consistent with previous work completed by Noront on this alternative and was used as the basis to establish road usage costs in the feasibility study.
In developing the DCF model for the project, Noront has assumed that concentrate shipments from site and supply shipments to site would be subject to a toll charge. On a proportional usage basis, Noront estimates that concentrate shipments represent less than seven percent of the total ore haulage along the road corridor. The Feasibility Study has assumed a toll representing 12.5% of the total road cost which includes capital, interest and maintenance costs.
The Project Description is as follows:
- 1.0 million tonne per year throughput rate, producing approximately 150,000 tonnes of high grade nickel-copper concentrate per annum;
- A proven and probable mineral reserve of:
|Proven and Probable||11,131.0||1.68||0.87||0.89||3.09|
- Metallurgical recoveries of:
- Underground mining will be conducted utilizing highly productive blast hole sub-level stoping;
- All major earthworks will utilize non-acid generating mine waste rock as aggregate;
- Surface disturbance will be limited to less than 50 hectares;
- Camp supported mining operation will be supported by a year round airstrip;
- All major mining facilities (including the mill) will be located underground;
- All tailings will be stored underground as paste fill;
- Concentrate will be trucked to a rail load-out facility near Nakina along a toll road following the north-south all-season road corridor supported by the Province of Ontario and Cliffs;
- Power will be generated on-site with the use of diesel generators, with recovered heat used to dry concentrate in a facility positioned on the surface area adjacent to the power plant;
- Initial mine production will be from an internal ramp; and
- Production ramps will be developed after year three to access the lower levels of the deposit.
The DCF model includes operating costs to operate the mine and process plant, selling of bulk concentrate, environmental monitoring, overall management of the proposed operation, closure costs and taxes.
At current metal prices (August 31, 2012), the DCF indicates an after tax NPV(8%) of $233 million and an IRR of 18%.
Of the estimated operating cost of $97 per tonne, approximately 35% was attributed to underground mining, and approximately 34% was attributed to on-site processing (including power costs); 9% was attributed to road toll related costs, and 22% was attributed to general and administrative (“G&A”) related costs.
Mine production was estimated based on a mining recovery rate of 95% of the measured and indicated resource defined in Micon’s technical report titled “Technical Report on the Updated Mineral Resource Estimate, McFaulds Lake Project, James Bay Lowlands, Ontario, Canada” dated April 18, 2011 (effective date March 4, 2011). Mining dilution of 7% at zero grade was included in the estimation of proven and probable reserves.
The Company is currently completing condemnation, geotechnical and hydrological drilling near the proposed portal location and detailed engineering related to portal construction.
The Company is evaluating potential benefits to producing both a nickel concentrate and a copper concentrate now that the development of Eagle’s Nest no longer considers use of a concentrate slurry pipeline. Additional metallurgical samples will be required as will additional metallurgical testing. This work is planned in the coming months.
The Company is continuing the consultation process with First Nation communities in the Ring of Fire. Open houses and meetings with community leaders are planned throughout the fall and winter season.
The Company is continuing to progress through the environmental permitting process with the Ontario Ministry of Environment (“MOE”) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (“CEAA”). The permitting process is progressing as planned with no undue delays to date. A comprehensive Environmental Assessment of Eagle’s Nest has been recommended by both agencies and the Company believes that the process will be complete by the second half of calendar 2013.
The Company maintains a strong cash position and has sufficient funding in place to complete the work planned for the fiscal year currently underway.
The NI 43-101 compliant FS will be available on SEDAR and on the Company’s website within 45 days from the date hereof.
INDEPENDENT QUALITY CONTROL AND ANALYTICAL PROTOCOL
A thorough quality control program has been in effect for the McFaulds Lake Project, which includes grouping samples into batches of 35 into which are added 2 certified reference material standards. 2 field and pulp duplicates also form part of the quality control program. It can be said with confidence that all assays have passed the strict quality control guidelines established by Noront’s Qualified Person.
Activation Labs (“Actlabs)” of Ancaster, Ontario completed all the assaying work. The samples submitted to Actlabs were analyzed for multi-elements, including Ni and Cu using a four acid digestion and by ICP analysis. The samples that received base metal values greater than the upper limit for the method underwent further analysis using ICP-OES. For the Au, Pd and Pt, the assay methodology was Fire Assay on a 30 gram aliquot with an ICP finish. Silver was analyzed using a 3-acid digest with an ICP analysis. For more information on assay methodology please visit the Actlabs website at http://www.actlabsint.com.
For further information on quality control and quality assurance and data verification procedures please reference the Company’s NI 43-101 compliant technical report “Technical Report on the Updated Mineral Resource Estimate, McFaulds Lake Project, James Bay Lowlands, Ontario, Canada” (effective March 4. 2011) available on the Company’s website and at www.sedar.com.
The preparation of this press release has been supervised by Noront’s senior management including Mr. W. Hanson, P.Geo., President and CEO, and by Mr. R. Gowans, P.Eng., Micon’s Project Manager, both of whom are Qualified Persons under Canadian Securities Administrators guidelines.
Note 1 Independent Consultants
The FS was completed by Micon and included technical input from: Tetra Tech WEI, Cementation Canada Ltd., Knight Piesold Ltd., Penguin ASI, SGS Canada Inc., Outotec Oyj., Ausenco, Nuna Logistics, and Golder Associates.
Note 2 Metal Price Assumptions:
The FS economic analysis is based on the following metal prices derived on a three year trailing average basis as of August 31, 2012:
|Nickel||$9.43 per pound|
|Copper||$3.60 per pound|
|Platinum||$1,600 per ounce|
|Palladium||$599 per ounce|
|Gold||$1,415 per ounce|
The FS assumes a Canadian to US foreign exchange rate of 1.010.
About Noront: Noront Resources Ltd. is focused on development of the high-grade Eagle’s Nest nickel, copper, platinum and palladium deposit and the high-grade Blackbird chromite deposit, both of which are located in the James Bay lowlands of Ontario in an emerging metals camp known as the Ring of Fire.
For further information please contact Olya Yousefi, Manager, Corporate Communications at (416) 367-1444, or visit Noront’s website at: http://www.norontresources.com or search the Company’s publically filed documents on SEDAR at: http://www.sedar.com.
Wesley (Wes) Hanson
President & Chief Executive Officer
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation, including predictions, projections and forecasts. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements that address activities, events or developments that the Company expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future, including such things as future business strategy, competitive strengths, goals, expansion, growth of the Company’s businesses, operations, plans and with respect to exploration results, the timing and success of exploration activities generally, permitting time lines, government regulation of exploration and mining operations, environmental risks, title disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage, timing and possible outcome of any pending litigation and timing and results of future resource estimates or future economic studies.
Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “planning”, “planned”, “expects” or “looking forward”, “does not expect”, “continues”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “potential”, “anticipates”, “does not anticipate”, or “belief”, or describes a “goal”, or variation of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved.
Forward-looking statements are based on a number of material factors and assumptions, including, the result of drilling and exploration activities, that contracted parties provide goods and/or services on the agreed timeframes, that equipment necessary for exploration is available as scheduled and does not incur unforeseen break downs, that no labour shortages or delays are incurred, that plant and equipment function as specified, that no unusual geological or technical problems occur, and that laboratory and other related services are available and perform as contracted. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, future events, conditions, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, prediction, projection, forecast, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among others, the interpretation and actual results of current exploration activities; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future prices of gold; possible variations in grade or recovery rates; failure of equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; the failure of contracted parties to perform; labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry; delays in obtaining governmental approvals or financing or in the completion of exploration, as well as those factors disclosed in the Company’s publicly filed documents. Although Noront has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
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.
Manager, Corporate Communications