|December 16, 2005|
Crowflight Completes Bucko Feasibility Study And Announces Proposed Amendments To The Terms Of Its Earn-In Agreement With Falconbridge
|Toronto, Ontario - Dec. 16, 2005 - CROWFLIGHT MINERALS INC. (Crowflight, the Company) (TSX VENTURE:CML) is pleased to announce that after completing a detailed feasibility study on the Indicated Resources contained within the Bucko Deposit, the project illustrates the ability to deliver a 23.9% rate of return and a net present value at a 10% discount rate of $22.6 million at an average life-of-mine nickel price of US$5.00 per pound. At a US$6.00 per pound nickel price (year-to-date nickel has averaged about US$6.75 per pound) the rate of return increases to 41.6% and the net present value increases to $53.1 million at a 10% discount rate (all currencies, unless otherwise stated are in Canadian dollars).|
In additional news, Crowflight is pleased to announce that the Company and Falconbridge have, subject to completing a binding Amended Agreement by January 31, 2006, agreed in principle on a number of revisions to the Original Agreement between the two parties with respect to Crowflight's commitments to earn its interests in the Bucko Deposit, the Thompson Nickel Belt (TNB) South and TNB North project areas. A number of additional corporate development activities have been completed or are being advanced. These include:
- Interim (Mezzanine/Bridge) debt facility to finance advanced Bankable Feasibility and pre-production activities;
- CML listing on senior North American stock exchange;
- Engagement of Financial Advisor for Project Financing; and
- Engagement of Investor Relations firm
The webcast presentation (available on Crowflight's website: www.crowflight.com) wherein Crowflight was to present additional information contained within this press release, previously scheduled for 10:30 am EST, Thursday, December 15, 2005, has been rescheduled for 10:30 am EST, Friday, December 16, 2005.
Thomas Atkins, President and CEO of Crowflight commented on the Company's announcements stating: "The completion of a feasibility study on the Bucko Deposit from an earlier scoping study in the short six month period since the Crowflight team has been together is an incredible feat. We're very pleased with the outcome, particularly in the context of the opportunities to enhance the economics of the Deposit over the next three to four months as we advance the project towards Bankable Feasibility. The resource expansion drilling begun in the summer has given us confidence that there are excellent near-term opportunities to further expand resources at Bucko adjacent to reserves identified in the feasibility study. We're excited to begin work on the Bankable Feasibility study as soon as possible and to work with our financial advisors to secure project development financing."
With regard to the amended agreement with Falconbridge, Mr. Atkins added: "The revisions to the terms of the Original Agreement should permit Crowflight to more effectively focus its capital on Bucko development. The funding of obligatory 2006 commitments under the terms of the Amended Agreement result in a 75% reduction in potential shareholder dilution compared to what was outstanding and remaining to be funded in 2006 under the terms of the Original Agreement. The willingness of Falconbridge to make these amendments is a further illustration of the strong working relationship between the two parties and Falconbridge's support of Crowflight's progress and efforts towards advancing the development of the Bucko Deposit."
Paul Keller, Vice President Operations and Chief Operating Officer of Crowflight added: "I am extremely impressed by the dedicated efforts and professionalism of both the Crowflight team and the many consulting firms involved in this study. This study provides both an encouraging rate of return and a solid base from which to achieve an enhanced return through the utilization of used equipment, expanded resources and further optimization in mining methods. Our program to the spring of 2006 will focus on these enhancements as we submit an application for full production permitting and commence some early infrastructure work in preparation for full project construction commencing in the spring of 2006."
Amendment to Original Terms of Crowflight - Falconbridge Agreements:
The terms of the Original Agreements between Crowflight and Falconbridge are being revised in three primary areas, subject to completing a definitive Amended Agreement by January 31, 2006:
1. Crowflight to Earn an Interest in the Larger Mining Lease ML-031.
Under the proposed terms of the Amended Agreement, Crowflight can earn a 33% initial interest in the entire Mining Lease ML-031 which includes the Bucko Resource Block as defined in the Original Agreement.
2. Crowflight to Earn an Initial 33% Interest and Up To a 100% Interest in ML-031.
Under the proposed terms of the Amended Agreement, Crowflight can earn an initial 33% interest in ML-031, by funding the revised 2006 TNB South regional exploration commitment of $1.5 million and by provide funding to complete the Bankable Feasibility Study as described in the Original Agreement. Crowflight can earn up to a 50% interest in ML-031 by completing the Bankable Feasibility study on or before December 31, 2006 and incurring $6.0 million in obligatory exploration funding on the TNB South Property by April 30, 2009. Crowflight can earn a 100% interest in ML-031 subject to a 2.5% NSR payable to Falconbridge, by achieving Commercial Production as defined in the Original Agreement.
Crowflight may at its option vest early by completing the requirements to vest as described in the Original Agreement on an accelerated schedule and advancing in cash to Falconbridge the amount required to complete the firm commitments on the TNB South Property. Falconbridge retains a 50% back-in right on any new resources exceeding 200 million pounds of nickel discovered outside of the boundaries of the original Bucko Resource Block by matching Crowflight's prior exploration expenditures on such resources (refer to Figure 1 - TNB South Project Area, Bucko/Bowden/M11A Project for an outline of ML-031 in comparison to the original Bucko Resource Block).
3. Rescheduled Annual Regional Exploration Commitments.
Under the terms of the Amended Agreement, Falconbridge has agreed in principle to provide Crowflight an extension of the period under which it is required to complete its obligatory exploration commitments on the TNB South Property with the result that the annual obligatory commitments to the regional exploration, due in 2005 and 2006 are lowered from a total of $6.25 million, to $1.5 million for 2006 commitments (refer to table below). The remaining commitments have been redistributed at $1.5 million per year over the following four year period.
Following completion of its earn-in to an initial 25% interest in the exploration Claims on the TNB South Property, Crowflight may earn an additional 25% interest in the TNB South Property by incurring a total of $7.0 million in optional expenditures that are distributed over four years, following vesting its 25% interest.
In a separate Amended Agreement, optional exploration commitments on the TNB North Project Area have been extended to coincide with the timing of the amended obligatory commitments on the TNB South Project Area (refer to table below).
Interim (Mezzanine/Bridge) Debt Facility and Listing on Senior North American Stock Exchange
The Company is in discussions with banks regarding a potential interim (to Project financing) Mezzanine or Bridge debt facility as a means by which to provide some financial flexibility for the financing of the next stage of advancement of the Bucko Deposit to the Bankable Feasibility stage (expected to cost from $2.0 to $3.0 million). Upon having earned a 33% interest in the Bucko Deposit under the terms of the Amended Agreement, plus having adequate capitalization to advance the next 18 months of working capital (a total of approximately $5.0 to $6.0 million), Crowflight should meet the listing requirements of a major resource focused North American stock exchange. Upon having achieved these milestones, Crowflight intends to pursue this listing. Listing on a major Canadian stock exchange has the potential to enhance investment in Crowflight to a wider and greater amount of institutional investors which are otherwise restricted by the level of investment they can make on the Venture Exchange.
Engagement of Financial Advisor and Investor Relations firm
Crowflight has retained the services of Auramet Trading LLC ("Auramet") to assist it in financing project development of the Bucko Deposit. Crowflight has also retained the services of Ascenta Capital Partners Inc. to assist it in its investor relations and financial communications activities. Both Auramet and Ascenta Capital are to be paid a monthly service fee and have been issued options to purchase 150,000 and 100,000 common shares, respectively at exercise prices of $0.25 and $0.24, respectively. The options granted will vest in accordance with applicable regulations.
Crowflight has completed a feasibility study on the Bucko Deposit. The study employed the services of engineering specialists in a number of disciplines and was coordinated by Micon International.
Task Consultant ---- ---------- Study Compilation/Coordination Micon International Geological Resources P & E Mining Consultants Metallurgy G & T Metallurgical Services Ltd. Plant Design and Costing Met Chem Canada Inc. Geotechnical/Tailings Design Golder Associates Ltd. Mine Design and Scheduling AST Mining Mine Costing Wardrop Environmental/Permitting Seacor Environmental Inc., Wardrop
The study identified a 1.8 million tonnes Indicated Resources grading 2.10 percent nickel at a 1.5% nickel cut-off grade down to the 1650 Level or about 500 metres below surface. The study considered an underground mine utilizing the rehabilitated three-compartment shaft available on the property, plus an internal ramp system for primarily long-hole stoping, contractor mining of 1.7 million tonne Mineable Reserve grading 1.92% nickel at a similar 1.5% nickel cut-off grade. Processing of shaft hoisted ore was studied under 750 tonne per day (tpd) and 1,000 tpd scenarios for a processing plant built and containing new equipment. The 1,000 tonne per day processing scenario provided the best economics. Under this scenario, the processing would recover approximately 80% percent of the contained nickel to produce an average annual 12.5 million pounds of contained nickel in a concentrate grading from 17% to 18% nickel, free of any deleterious elements which would result in penalties. Minor amounts of by-product credits were available from platinum group elements, copper and cobalt. Concentrate is to be transported and sold to domestic and/or international smelting and refining facilities for further processing into final nickel end products. A summary table of production volumes and costs is illustrated below.
The feasibility study delivered a 23.9% rate of return with a net present value of $22.6 million at a 10% discount rate assuming a life-of-mine nickel price of US$5.00 per pound nickel. The rate of return at US$6.00 per pound nickel pound (year-to-date nickel has averaged about US$6.75 per pound), is increased to a 41.6% rate of return and the net present value at a 10% discount rate is $53.1 million. Economic outcomes stated above are at a Canadian dollar - US dollar exchange rate of US$0.82 equals $1.00 Canadian (the approximate 2005 year-to-date average exchange rate of the two currencies).
A table illustrating the rate of return (IRR) and net present value (NPV) sensitivities to different aspects of the project given a plus or minus 10% change are illustrated below.
The economic outcome of the feasibility study is different then that of the earlier scoping study of October 2004. The scoping study was only an estimate of possible costs and included an estimate for used processing plant and equipment that reduced the capital cost estimate of the project. Given the increasing costs of consumables (fuel and reagents) and construction materials such as steel, since the original scoping study, these items alone would result in significantly different outcomes between the two studies. The feasibility study is considered accurate within a range of 10% to 15% and includes the cost of all new equipment for the processing plant. New equipment has been costed in the feasibility study to provide a basis upon which Crowflight will seek to reduce capital costs through the sourcing of used equipment as it advances its Bankable Feasibility Study activities.
The full feasibility study report will be completed and available on Crowflight's web site and filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) no later than Monday, January 16, 2006.
Crowflight plans additional work to take the project to a Bankable Feasibility Stage. Activities intended for this Stage, include:
- Full project permitting - the project is currently permitted to discharge mine water, rehabilitate the underground workings and to extract a bulk sample, with the completion of the project feasibility the Company now has sufficient information to apply for full project permitting.
- Further resource definition drilling - based on the results of the Summer 2005 program Crowflight believes it can add as much as 700,000 to 1,000,000 additional tonnes of Indicated Resources down to the 2000 Level in close proximity to planned mine infrastructure.
- Sourcing of used plant buildings and equipment - a number of opportunities have been identified where suitable used buildings and equipment are available which following refurbishment could reduce the capital cost of the project.
- Improved price for Bucko concentrate - the feasibility study relied on concentrate purchase terms supplied by a small number of smelter operations. Crowflight believes there is potential to improve upon these terms with further negotiations. Falconbridge has the right to designate the facilities at which all concentrates will be smelted and refined at market rates with the right to market the resulting product at freight costs no more than shipping to Sudbury or to purchase all concentrates or other mineral products produced from the Property at prices as determined by good faith negotiations. The purchase price for concentrate will be determined with due regard for competitive purchase terms.
Crowflight intends to complete the various activities of the Bankable Feasibility by the second quarter of 2006 and coincident with these activities seek project financing. Crowflight believes that if successful in achieving the sought after enhancements through the aforementioned Bankable Feasibility activities, the Bucko Deposit will have the potential to be within the second quartile of average nickel industry costs and will have sufficiently robust economics to ensure an attractive rate of return and net present value at a life-of-mine average nickel price of US$4.00 per pound. If successful in financing the project, upon completion or shortly following the Bankable Feasibility activities, Crowflight believes it will be producing a nickel concentrate by the third quarter 2007. The costs of the Advanced Feasibility activities are estimated at from $2.0 to $3.0 million.
Qualified Person/Quality Control Notes
This press release has been reviewed by Mr. Peter Karelse, P. Geo., Manager Project Development and Mr. Jean Lafleur, P. Geo., Crowflight's VP Exploration, Qualified Persons under the National Instrument 43-101 guidelines. National Instrument 43-101 compliant Indicated Resources have been calculated by Eugene Puritch, P.Eng. and Dr. Wayne Ewert, P. Geo. of P&E Mining Consultants Inc. of Brampton, Ontario.
Crowflight - The Base Metal Builder
Crowflight Minerals Inc. is a Canadian junior mining exploration and development company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. The company is focused on nickel, copper and Platinum Group Mineral ("PGM") projects in the Thompson Nickel Belt ("TNB") and Sudbury Basin. The company currently owns and/or has under option approximately 600 square kilometres of exploration and development properties in Manitoba and Ontario.
In Manitoba, these properties include: (1) the Bucko Nickel Deposit; (2) an earn-in option with Falconbridge Limited on five highly prospective properties (Bucko/Bowden, Resting Lake, Rock Island Lake, Halfway Lake and Gonlin Lake) on the TNB South Project located within 30 kilometres of the Bucko Deposit; and (3) six additional properties (Burntwood River, Birchtree South, Birchtree North, Airport, Moak Lake and Strong Lake) located 100 kilometres to the north on the TNB North Project.
In the Sudbury Basin, these properties include: (1) the 100% owned AER Kidd Project adjacent to Inco's Totten Deposit (10.1 million tonnes @ 1.5% Nickel, 2% Cu, 4.8 g/t PGM's); (2) the Airport Property (a 50/50 joint venture with Millstream Mines Ltd.) located 4 km south, and on-strike, with Falconbridge's Nickel Rim South Deposit (13.2 million tonnes @ 3.5% Cu, 1.7% nickel, 0.8 g/t Au, 4.1 g/t PGM's); and (3) the 100% owned Peter's Roost Property.
Further information is available on the Company's web site at www.crowflight.com.
Statements in this release that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Readers are cautioned that any such statements are not guarantees of future performance and that actual developments or results may vary materially from those in these "forward-looking statements. The Company cautions investors that the projections for increases to the Indicated Resources are based on Inferred Resources. There is no certainty that these projections will be added to the Indicated Resources or that they will be economically viable.
For a map of the "Figure 1 - TNB South Project Area - ML-031, Bucko/Bowden and M11A Project Areas", please click on the link below:
Crowflight Minerals Inc.
President and CEO
(416) 861-8165 (FAX)
(604) 684-4743 x 30
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