Western Areas NL
TSX : WSA
ASX : WSA

Western Areas NL

December 24, 2009 08:00 ET

Western Areas Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

PERTH, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 24, 2009) - Western Areas NL (TSX:WSA)(ASX:WSA) -

THIS NEWS RELEASE IS NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO U.S. NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE U.S.

Dear Shareholders,

Today is an important date for the Company which was incorporated on 24th December 1999, exactly ten years ago. During this time there have been many achievements as Western Areas has progressed from a junior explorer to become a substantial and globally recognised nickel mining company. This success would not have been possible without the energy, hard work and support of all our board members, staff, consultants, contractors and shareholders. 

Last week we noted that Western Areas was rated as the tenth best company of the ASX All-ordinaries list of 500 companies based on shareholder returns over the past decade. This was based on the estimated return of 2,466% to Western Areas' shareholders between 1st January 2000 and 17th December 2009, adjusted for recapitalisations and equity restructures.

Some of the key achievements by the Western Areas' team during the past ten years were:

  • establishing Western Areas as a successful nickel sulphide explorer
  • acquiring Forrestania Nickel Project and consolidating the surrounding province
  • building a first class team of professionals to manage the operations
  • discovering the high grade Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll deposits
  • developing Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll into long life, low cost mines
  • constructing a state of the art nickel concentrator at Cosmic Boy
  • strengthening the balance sheet with $90M cash and long dated loans
  • receiving the prestigious Digger Award in 2008 and Prospector Award in 2009
  • building a supporting network of global investors, shareholders and analysts

Progress during the past ten years means that Western Areas is now in a very strong position going into 2010. Your Company owns two of the world's highest grade nickel mines with a combined production target of 25,000t (55Mlbs) nickel per annum. We expect a sharp jump in production by May 2010 coinciding with production from the bonanza grade T5 deposit at Flying Fox overlapping with first high grade ore production from Spotted Quoll. This ramp up should occur at the same time as commissioning of the upgraded nickel concentrator. 

Based on currently announced mineral resources and ore reserves, high grade production from the Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll mines has the potential to continue for up to 10 years. 

Plans are also well advanced to test for further extensions to Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll and potentially to expand production from other deposits at Forrestania. These deposits include Diggers South, Cosmic Boy and New Morning which we are considering to bring into production provided they don't impact on expected profits from Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll. 

Shareholders in 2010 will also be exposed to the potential for further exploration success at Western Areas' substantial holdings within the 500km long nickel province extending north from Forrestania. We are planning a major drilling campaign starting in early January, not only to test priority targets at Forrestania (including potential extensions below the New Morning deposit) but also to follow up encouraging results at other regional nickel projects. 

While the main focus of the Company is to increase production and profits from the Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll mines, the Board is very mindful of providing a return to shareholders through sustained dividend payments. We hope to be in a position to announce a maiden dividend for the six month period ending 31 December 2009, in February 2010.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all Western Areas' shareholders over the past decade and during the last twelve months for your outstanding support of this Company. We would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to an exciting year ahead.

Yours sincerely,

Julian Hanna,
Managing Director

COMPETENT PERSONS STATEMENT
The information within this report as it relates to mineral resources and mine development activities is based on information compiled by Mr Julian Hanna of Western Areas NL. Mr Hanna is a member of AusIMM and is a full time employee of the Company. Mr Hanna has sufficient experience which is relevant to the style of mineralisation and type of deposit under consideration and to the activity which they are undertaking to qualify as a Competent Person as defined in the 2004 Edition of the 'Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves.' Mr Hanna consents to the inclusion in the report of the matters based on the information in the form and context in which it appears. 

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENT: This release contains certain forward-looking statements. These include: "two of the world's highest grade nickel mines with a combined production target of 25,000t (55Mlbs) nickel per annum", and "We expect a sharp jump in production by May 2010 coinciding with production from the bonanza grade T5 deposit at Flying Fox overlapping with first high grade ore production from Spotted Quoll. This ramp up should occur at the same time as commissioning of the upgraded nickel concentrator", and "high grade production from the Flying Fox and Spotted Quoll mines has the potential to continue for up to 10 years", and "Shareholders in 2010 will also be exposed to the potential for further exploration success", and "the Board is very mindful of providing a return to shareholders through sustained dividend payments. We hope to be in a position to announce a maiden dividend for the six month period ending 31 December 2009, in February 2010". 

Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties beyond the Company's ability to control or predict which could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements.

This announcement does not include reference to all available information on the Company or the Forrestania Nickel Project and should not be used in isolation as a basis to invest in Western Areas. Any potential investors should refer to Western Area's other public releases and statutory reports and consult their professional advisers before considering investing in the Company.

For Purposes of Clause 3.4 (e) in Canadian instrument 43-101, the Company warrants that Mineral Resources which are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

Contact Information