SOURCE: Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc.

April 25, 2005 07:00 ET

Altair Nanotechnologies and Bateman Engineering Announce First Joint Venture Projects

Project Range Illustrates Breadth of Altairnano Bateman Titania's Products and Services

Solution Implementation Process Is Outlined

RENO, NV -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 25, 2005 -- Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALTI) and Bateman Engineering BV today announced two projects have been initiated in their recently formed joint venture, "Altairnano Bateman Titania, Inc." Altairnano Bateman Titania brings together Altair's proprietary and patented titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigment manufacturing process with Bateman's engineering expertise to develop, design, construct and commission manufacturing plants to produce titanium dioxide pigment. Titanium dioxide pigment, a $9 billion industry worldwide, is used in a variety of applications including the manufacture of paint, plastics and paper.

The first project is funded by a multi-billion dollar conglomerate (Client) located in an emerging economy country. A confidentiality agreement prevents disclosing this client's name to protect customer and supplier relationships. The project is a Raw Material Evaluation study to determine the suitability of Client's resource for use in TiO2 pigment manufacturing. At the conclusion of the evaluation, the Client will determine whether it shall commit to the design and construction of a TiO2 pigment manufacturing plant.

The second project is with Randsburg International Gold Corporation, a North American exploration company. The project is also a Raw Material Evaluation study to determine the suitability of its ore body for TiO2 pigment manufacturing. Randsburg has identified TiO2 pigment as one of the high-value products to be produced from ore mined at its Titan deposit in Ontario, Canada.

These projects use the Altair Hydrochloride Pigment ("AHP") Process to extract titanium and to manufacture titanium dioxide pigment from low-cost, titanium-rich ore. The AHP Process is the first new, commercially viable TiO2 pigment production process in nearly half a century delivering a cost-effective, environmentally friendly process to manufacture pigment. Altairnano Bateman Titania is offering technology and services to develop, design, construct and commission TiO2 pigment manufacturing plants, especially in emerging countries that increasingly use titanium dioxide-based pigments in paints for housing, automobiles and in plastics. These countries have had, and continue to forecast, high growth rates (e.g. 15%) for pigment consumption.

The AHP Process is a disruptive technology because it threatens the TiO2 pigment supply chain established over the last 50 years. It enables companies in emerging markets such as China, India, Southeast Asia and Africa to enter the TiO2 pigment supply market with an environmentally friendly manufacturing process that has a cost structure substantially lower than current supply methods. The Altair Process is economic for plants producing 30,000 tons a year to large-scale manufacturing exceeding 100,000 tons per year. This is an important capability in emerging economies and to specialist pigment producers as it enables these smaller companies with limited capital resources to affordably enter the market. These plants can be readily expanded to larger scale manufacturing operations as customer demands grow.

The ability to alter the worldwide supply chain for TiO2 pigment requires Altairnano Bateman Titania to not disclose commercial relationships so that its customer relationships will be protected until the new production plants are operating. In many cases this will restrict Altairnano Bateman Titania's ability to name specific customers until the projects are at a late stage of development, particularly where the customer is an existing pigment feedstock seller or TiO2 pigment consumer.

There will typically be six phases in the evaluation, design, construction and commission of a manufacturing plant based on the AHP process:

--  Raw Material Evaluation.  This phase starts with assessing a mineral
    resource for suitability for TiO2 pigment production in the AHP process.
    Ilmenite is the world's most abundant titanium resource and is the
    preferred feedstock to the AHP process. This phase involves conducting an
    in-depth chemical and mineralogical testing program. A pre-feasibility
    study may also be performed depending on the outcome of the testing
    program. During this phase, Altairnano Bateman Titania typically receives
    fees from conducting the minerals evaluation, process development and pre-
    feasibility studies.
--  Definitive Feasibility Study.  A Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) is
    prepared and will be used to raise money to pay for plant construction,
    commissioning and working capital. In this phase, Altairnano Bateman
    Titania will receive engineering fees for work performed producing the
    study.
--  Flow Sheet Development and TiO2 Pigment Sample Preparation.  When the
    DFS is approved, pilot plant operation commences in order to develop the
    resource-specific engineering flowsheet and produce TiO2 pigment for
    marketing purposes. Short pilot plant campaigns are conducted using bulk
    samples produced from the client's resource to determine the processing
    requirements to produce sample TiO2 pigment. These runs will produce
    pigment samples for use in market development. This phase typically will
    involve the use of a pilot plant at Altairnano Bateman Titania's
    headquarters, or in some cases could involve the construction of a small,
    project-specific pilot or demonstration plant. Altairnano Bateman Titania
    typically receives fees for conducting this phase and for completing the
    detailed engineering study that will lead to the construction of a limited
    production plant.
--  Detailed Plant Engineering & Design.  In this phase, detailed
    engineering studies and designs for the TiO2 pigment manufacturing plant
    are completed. Altairnano Bateman Titania typically receives fees for the
    design of the plant.
--  Plant Construction and Commissioning.  The construction of the full
    production plant typically follows completion of design. During this phase,
    Altairnano Bateman Titania will receive fees for the construction and
    commissioning of the plant.
--  Ongoing Plant Operations.  Once the plant is operational, Altairnano
    Bateman Titania will receive ongoing royalties from the pigment revenue
    stream and may also receive additional fees for plant design upgrades,
    maintenance and operational support.
    
RANDSBURG INTERNATIONAL GOLD COMPANY

Randsburg is a Canadian exploration company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V: RGZ). The Company is engaged in exploration for base metals, platinum group metals (PGMs), gold and diamonds in Canada, Nevada and Brazil. The Company has five active, high-potential projects, including their Titan Project (iron-titanium-vanadium) in Northern Ontario, which is 100% owned by Randsburg.

BATEMAN ENGINEERING BV

Bateman is an innovative solutions provider to the natural resources industry internationally, providing a comprehensive blend of skills comprising process-orientated engineering, specialist niche technologies, financial and commercial facilitation and contracting and project management. It operates under the Bateman banner, providing total solutions for the conversion of natural resources into marketable products. Bateman has been involved in a number of beach sands and hard rock projects and studies involving the upgrade of ilmenite and other minerals since 1991. Work has been done for several well-known mining companies in that time, including Anglo American, Kumba Resources and WMC. Currently, Bateman is involved in a US$220 million lump sum turnkey contract for the Moma mineral sands project in Mozambique on behalf of Kenmare Resources. For more information, visit www.batemanbv.com.

ALTAIR NANOTECHNOLOGIES INC. Altair Nanotechnologies, through product innovation, is a leading supplier of advanced ceramic nanomaterial technology worldwide. Altair Nanotechnologies has assembled a unique team of material scientists which, coupled with collaborative ventures with industry partners and leading academic centers, has pioneered an impressive array of intellectual property and product achievements.

Altair Nanotechnologies has developed robust proprietary technology platforms for manufacturing a variety of crystalline and non-crystalline nanomaterials of unique structure, performance, quality and cost. The company has a scalable manufacturing capability to meet emerging nanomaterials demands, with capacity today to produce hundreds of tons of nanomaterials.

The company is organized into two divisions: Life Sciences and Performance Materials. The Life Sciences Division is pursuing market applications in pharmaceuticals, drug delivery, dental materials, cosmetics and other medical markets. The Performance Materials Division is pursuing market applications in Advanced Materials for paints and coatings; titanium metal manufacturing, catalysts and water treatment; and alternative energy. For additional information on Altair and its nanomaterials, visit www.altairnano.com.

Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc.®, Altair Nanomaterials™, Altairnano™, TiNano®, RenaZorb™, NanoCheck™, TiNano Spheres™ and the Hydrochloride Pigment Process™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain forward-looking statements as well as historical information. Forward-looking statements, which are included in accordance with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, may involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the company's actual results and performance in future periods to be materially different from any future results or performance suggested by the forward-looking statements in this release. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the risks that, in light of the fact that the proposed joint venture is presently being formed and has no customer commitments, the joint venture will not commence operations or attract any feasibility work, design, construction, licensing, consulting or other opportunities; the risks that costs associated with operating the joint venture may exceed associated revenues; the risks that, in the near-term, revenues will be limited to service revenues, which will unlikely be substantial; the risks that, the joint venture will not be successful in attracting a long-term licensee of the pigment technology for a commercial production plant, which is the joint venture's best opportunity for generating substantial revenue; and the risks that either Altair or Bateman will withdraw from the joint venture as a result of a re-focus of its business strategy, financial or other internal problems or a dissatisfaction with the progress and results of the joint venture. In addition, other risks are identified in the company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, as filed with the SEC. Such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release. The company expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements found herein to reflect any changes in company expectations or results or any change in events.

Contact Information

  • For Additional Bateman Information:
    Stephen F. Burks
    Bateman Engineering

    For Additional Altair Information:
    Marty Tullio or Mark Tullio
    McCloud Communications, LLC