|June 28, 2007|
Crowflight's Scoping Study on Expanded Throughput Scenario at Bucko Nickel Mine Boosts Annual Cash Flow to $78 Million
|CROWFLIGHT MINERALS INC. (Crowflight, the Company) (TSX Venture Exchange: CML) is pleased to announce that it has completed a scoping study to determine the parameters of an expanded throughput scenario at the Bucko Lake Nickel Deposit, currently under construction. The scoping study considered ramping-up production to up to 1,500 tonnes per day (tpd) commencing Q3-2009 (a 50% increase from the base case Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) level of production) and utilizing much of the same infrastructure and equipment as was considered in the 1,000 tpd scenario (this equipment was purposely oversized to provide capacity to process up to 1,500 tpd throughput), thereby accommodating such an expansion. |
The additional capital cost to achieve this expansion is estimated at $8.5 million and assuming US$8.00 per pound nickel price (less than one-third the average price of nickel during 2007), average annual cash flow from the mine is boosted to $78 million (a 42% increase) as compared to the base case BFS level of $55.1 million (refer to press release issued April 24, 2007). The average annual cash flow sensitivity to different nickel prices is illustrated in Table 1.
Paul Keller, Vice President Operations of Crowflight, commented on the scoping study, stating: "The Crowflight technical team was always confident that the Bucko Deposit could be grown to accommodate higher throughput than originally considered in earlier feasibility studies. The 53% increase in estimates of Indicated Mineral Resources, a result of resource expansion drilling over the past 18 months, has demonstrated this potential. Major equipment, such as the hoist, headframe and concentrator, was purchased that would accommodate up to a 50% expansion of feasibility throughput to up to 1,500 tonnes per day. The scoping study identifies costs of additional equipment and design parameters to accommodate this expansion and illustrates the compelling rationale to proceed with this investment based on significantly more robust annual cash flow and a rapid pay-back of the cost of this expansion."
Note: Includes assumptions of 1,000 tpd BFS, including US$:C$ exchange rate, reserves and operating costs. At this stage of the study, operating cost savings associated with efficiencies related to this higher throughput were not incorporated in the cash flow numbers. Every C$0.01 increase in the C$:US$ exchange rate results in an approximate C$1.5 million change in average annual cash flow under either scenario.
Thomas Atkins, President and CEO of Crowflight, expanded on Mr. Keller's comments, stating: "Our objective is that towards the end of the third quarter 2007, we will have firmed-up the costs and timing of the expansion such that we would be in a position to decide on whether to invest in the expansion and possibly begin some of the activities associated with this opportunity. We're confident that the combination of cash on hand, in-the-money warrants and capital available through a project loan facility will provide adequate financial resources to invest in a ramp-up to as much as a 50% increase to 1,500 tonnes per day production in 2009."
The base case Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) announced on April 24, 2007 envisioned an underground mine utilizing the rehabilitated, historic three-compartment shaft available on the property plus an internal ramp system for primarily long-hole stoping, contractor mining of a 2.3 million tonne Proven and Probable Reserve grading 1.84% nickel. Shaft hoisted ore was to be processed in a surface concentrator at the rate of 1,000 tonne per day. The concentrator is expected to recover approximately 81% of the contained nickel to produce on average 12.5 million pounds of contained nickel in concentrate per year over an 8 year mine life. Capital cost of project development is estimated to total $66 million and includes all engineering, procurement, construction, management and contingencies. Production is scheduled to commence in the second quarter 2008 with production concluding in 2015 under the mineral reserve estimates considered in the BFS.
The cost of additional equipment and design parameters that will accommodate the expanded throughput scenario of up to 1,500 tpd are estimated through this scoping work to total $8.5 million. This estimate is based on the cost of new equipment and Crowflight believes that used equipment may be available at reduced cost. At this stage of the study, operating cost savings associated with efficiencies related to this higher throughput have not yet been factored into the resultant economics of the expansion. Additional equipment and design parameters include:
• Decline ramp from surface to connect with the internal underground ramp system and which will facilitate transportation of miners, service, equipment, waste and shallow lying ore to and from surface thereby freeing-up the shaft for hoisting of additionally mined ore from the 1,000 Level.
• Installation of a paste backfill plant (compared to the hydraulic back-fill plant envisaged in the BFS) which will facilitate more efficient back-filling and which may result in the deposition of additional tailings in back-fill than was originally envisaged under the base case BFS scenario.
• Additional mine support infrastructure, including ventilation, pumping and backfill related infrastructure to accommodate the greater throughput.
The scoping study utilized the same 2.5 million tonne Measured and Indicated Resource grading 2.01% nickel (at a 1.4% nickel cut-off grade) and a 2.3 million tonne Probable Reserve grading 1.84% nickel as was used in the April 2007 BFS. At a 1,500 tpd rate of throughput, the life of the mine is reduced from an approximate 8 year mine life to an approximate 6 year mine life. The viability of the expanded through-put scenario is not dependant on the mine life, however Crowflight technical personnel believe there is potential to extend the mine life under the expanded throughput scenario through a combination of methods, including:
• A reduction of the cut-off grade used to determine the Resources and Reserves within the Deposit. Based on the Resource sensitivity table presented in the press release on Resources within the deposit (dated December 7, 2006), for a 0.2% reduction in the cut-off grade used to calculate the Measured and Indicated Resource (from 1.4% nickel to 1.2% nickel), or a 14% reduction in cut-off grade, there is a 37% increase in pounds of contained nickel within the Deposit, albeit at a 13% lower grade - 1.75% nickel.
• Increases in Resources and Reserves through additional in-fill drilling.
Crowflight plans to commence drilling from underground workings during the third quarter 2007, commensurate with it having gained access to the rehabilitated underground workings (shaft rehabilitation work began in May 2007). The purpose of this initial drilling is for detailed stope planning purposes with the objective of having delineated sufficient resources for the first 18 months of production. Following this work, the Company will shift part of the focus of this underground drilling program to resource expansion drilling, initially from the 1000 Level to the 2000 Level of the mine. The resource expansion drill program is expected to commence towards the end of 2007.
Once the Company has sufficiently advanced drilling for stope planning purposes, it will be in a better position to accurately create a revised mine plan at a reduced cut-off grade and evaluate the opportunities to extend the mine life at the 1,500 tpd rate of throughput through a reduction in the cut-off grade. It is planned that during the third quarter 2008, commensurate with the ramp-up of mine production to the initial 1,000 tpd, information will exist upon which to assess the opportunity to extend the mine life through a reduction in the cut-off grade and/or additional resources from the underground in-fill drill program. This timing should provide ample opportunity to optimize mine scheduling for the ramp-up of throughput envisioned through the first half of 2009 and a mine life predicated on either or both scenarios of expanded resources through in-fill drilling and the potential lowering of the cut-off grade.
In addition, the Company has issued 2,965,000 options to purchase common shares at an exercise price of $0.94 per option exercised to officers, directors, employees and consultants of the Company, subject to regulatory approval. The options shall vest in equal amounts over the next eight quarters and shall be subject to a statutory four month hold period.
Crowflight - Canada's Next Nickel Producer
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 Lake Nickel Deposit; (2) an earn-in option with Xstrata Nickel 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 grading 1.5% nickel, 2.0% copper and 4.8 g/t PGM's); (2) the 100% owned Peter's Roost Property, being explored under a joint venture agreement with Wallbridge Mining Co. Ltd.; and (3) the Airport Property (a 50/50 joint venture with Millstream Mines Ltd.) located 4 kilometres south, and on-strike, with Falconbridge's Nickel Rim South Deposit (13.2 million tonnes grading 1.7% nickel, 3.5% copper and 4.1 g/t PGM's).
Statements in this release that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable securities laws. 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. viable.
For further information please contact:
President and CEO
Tel: (416) 861 - 5900
Manager Investor & Public Relations
Tel: (416) 861 - 5803
Tel: (604) 684 - 4743 ext 226
You can view the Next News Release item: Thu Jul 12, 2007, Crowflight -- Xstrata Nickel Complete Transfer Of Bucko Lake Mining Lease To Crowflight
You can view the Previous News Release item: Thu May 31, 2007, Crowflight Regional Exploration Drilling Intersects 32.8 Feet Grading 1.35% Nickel At Halfway Lake
You can return to the main News Release page, or press the Back button on your browser.