Fortune Minerals Increases Planned Production Rate for the Nico Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper Deposit, NWT
16% increase in production rate achieved by reconfiguring Hemlo mills
London, ON - January 21, 2009 - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX-FT) (�Fortune Minerals� or the �Company�) is pleased to announce the results of recently completed studies for the configuration of four grinding mills it acquired as part of the Golden Giant Mine process plant purchased earlier from Newmont Canada Limited (see Fortune news release dated August 31, 2006). Grinding plant simulation and optimization studies were conducted by Metso Minerals Inc. and Starkey & Associates as part of the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) work being done by Aker Metals, a division of Aker Solutions Canada Inc. (Aker Solutions) for Fortune�s 100% owned NICO Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper deposit in the Northwest Territories. Notably, these studies determined that minor modifications to one of the mills re-configured as a rod mill, followed by three secondary ball mills in parallel closed circuit, would provide for an increase in grinding capa city from 185 to 215 tonnes per hour. This produces a 16% increase in the nominal daily grinding capacity for the NICO process plant from 4000 to approximately 4650 tonnes per day (at 90% availability) for essentially the same operating cost.
The increase in grinding rate indicated by the Metso / Starkey / Aker Solutions studies can be accommodated with no significant changes to the mining fleet, primary crusher or flotation circuits already specified for the NICO mine and process plant. Only an incremental increase in the downstream hydrometallurgical process equipment would be required to achieve the increased production rate for the entire mine�s process plant. Fortune Minerals is pleased to announce that it now plans to increase the nominal production rate for the NICO plant from 4000 to 4650 tonnes per day and this is expected to reduce the operating cost per tonne of ore processed.
The $5 million pilot plant test for NICO ores being conducted at SGS Lakefield Research Limited (Lakefield) is now substantially complete. Results of the crushing, grinding and flotation components have already been announced and exceeded expectations (see Fortune Minerals news release dated February 6, 2008). The downstream hydrometallurgical processing of NICO ores to high quality cobalt and bismuth cathode and gold dor� has now also been confirmed. Detailed results of the hydrometallurgical part of the pilot plant will be announced upon receipt of the final reports from Lakefield. The Aker Solutions FEED Study is also progressing well and is expected to be completed in March, 2009.
Work has been advancing with the dismantling and salvage of equipment from Fortune Minerals� Golden Giant Mine process plant at Hemlo, Ontario. More than 50 people are currently working at the site for the Company and its primary contractor. The crushing plant and conveyor galleries have now been dismantled for relocation and re-assembly at NICO in virtually the same configuration as the Hemlo plant. The administration building has been demolished. Tailings pipe has been recovered and prepared for transport to NICO. Crews are now working in the mill building salvaging the grinding mills, flotation cells, transformers, and other mechanical, electrical and structural equipment for reconditioning or transport to NICO. Fortune Minerals is processing materials containing precious metals that were recovered from the Golden Giant Mine process equipment and the Company has been selling copper, steel, aluminium and other metals to s crap dealers in Canada and the United States. Fortune Minerals has also sold surplus equipment from the site and is in discussions with several companies interested in purchasing large sections of the Golden Giant Mine process plant that are not needed at NICO. The Company is pleased to report that 50% of the scope of work for the dismantling of the Golden Giant Mine process plant has now been completed.
Fortune Minerals recently completed two rounds of community consultation for the proposed NICO mine, in Yellowknife, as well as the nearby Tlicho communities of Behchoko, Whati and Gameti. These meetings with local communities and stakeholders resulted in many expressions of support for the mine. The Tlicho Government has also hired a consultant to advise them on matters related to the proposed project. Fortune Minerals is working with this consultant to ensure that local stakeholders are kept informed about the project for an integrated mine, business and community planning process for mutual benefit. Fortune Minerals has already submitted its �Land Use� and �Class A Water License� applications to the Wek� �ezhii Land and Water Board to permit the mine.
NICO is located in the southern part of the Northwest Territories, 160 km northwest of the City of Yellowknife, 80 and 50 km northeast of Tlicho communities of Behchoko and Whati, respectively, and 22 km west of the Snare hydro complex. NICO has already been assessed in a positive definitive feasibility study by Micon International Limited (Micon) in 2007 and an economic update by Micon in 2008 (see Fortune Minerals news release dated May 8, 2008). NICO contains total Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves of 21.8 million tonnes, containing 760,000 ounces of gold, 61 million pounds of cobalt and 77 million pounds of bismuth. The underground portion of the Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves are 1,204,000 tonnes, grading 5.07 g/t gold, 0.14% cobalt and 0.19% bismuth and the open pit portion of the Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves are 20,613,000 tonnes, grading 0.85 g/t gold, 0.13% cobalt and 0.16% bismuth. Copper is produced as a by- product of the NICO ore processing, but was not included in the Mineral Reserve estimate. The NICO Mineral Reserves are contained within a larger Mineral Resource. In consideration of the anticipated lower operating costs as a result of the increased plant throughput stated above, the increased metal recoveries indicated by the pilot plant, and other operational improvements, Fortune plans to re-estimate the NICO Mineral Reserves and also include copper. Mr. B. Terrence Hennessey, P.Geo. of Micon and Mr. Eugene Puritch, P.Eng. of P&E Mining Consultants Inc. are the qualified persons responsible for the Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource estimates in accordance with National Instrument 43-101. Further information regarding the NICO mineral reserves and economic studies can be found in the Company�s AIF and other documents filed on the SEDAR website (www.sedar.com).
About Fortune MineralsThis press release contains forward-looking information. This forward-looking information includes, or may be based upon, estimates, forecasts, and statements as to management�s expectations with respect to, among other things, the size and quality of the Company�s mineral resources, progress in development of mineral properties, demand and market outlook for metals and coal and future metal and coal prices. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is given, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. These factors include the inherent risks involved in the exploration and de velopment of mineral properties, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of required permits and regulatory approvals, the uncertainties involved in interpreting drilling results and other geological data, fluctuating metal and coal prices, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs and expenses, uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future and other factors. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Inferred mineral resources are considered too speculative geologically to have economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. There is no certainty that mineral resources will be converted into mineral reserves. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
Fortune Minerals is a diversified natural resource company with several mineral deposits and a number of exploration projects, all located in Canada. They include the Mount Klappan anthracite coal deposits in British Columbia, and the NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth deposit, the Sue-Dianne copper-silver deposit and other base and precious metals exploration projects in the Northwest Territories. Fortune Minerals is focussed on outstanding performance and growth of shareholder value through assembly and development of high quality mineral resource projects.
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