Atacama Minerals Corp.
TSX VENTURE : AAM

Atacama Minerals Corp.

February 16, 2011 13:40 ET

Atacama Announces Resource Update

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 16, 2011) - Atacama Minerals Corp. (TSX VENTURE:AAM) ("Atacama" or "the Company") is pleased to announce that a new NI 43-101 reserve/resource update has been completed for the Aguas Blancas iodine mine in northern Chile. The report highlights the success of the ongoing delineation and exploration drilling at Aguas Blancas to add to and convert resources into reserves.

Proven and Probable Reserves have increased from 37 million tonnes grading 605 ppm I2 as reported in the previous NI 43-101 report (December, 2007) to over 52 million tonnes grading 456 ppm I2. Measured and Indicated resources are 55 million tonnes at 494 ppm I2 and Inferred resources are 68 million tonnes at 391 ppm I2. This reflects a significant increase in reserves for the mine. The full report will be available on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) as well as the Company's website (www.atacama.com).

Aguas Blancas Reserves and Resources*
December 31, 2010
  Tonnes (millions) Iodine (I2 in ppm) Sulphate (SO4 in %) Nitrate (NO3 in %)
Reserves        
Proven  7,831 430 21.1 2.88
Probable 44,403 461 11.8 1.87
Total 52,237 456 13.2 2.02
         
Resources        
Measured  7,931 478 24.3 3.31
Indicated 47,018 497 13.1 2.14
Total 54,948 494 14.8 2.31
         
Inferred 68,227 391 11.1 2.70

*The Measured and Indicated Resources are inclusive of the reported Proven and Probable Reserves, which represent those parts considered as being economically viable, according to CIM Definitions and Guidelines as required by National Instrument 43-101. Adam Wheeler, independent consultant and Qualified Person pursuant to NI 43-101, was commissioned to prepare a reserve and resource estimate (dated December, 2010) in accordance with NI 43-101 based on results of recent drilling and analytical results.

The resource estimate was based on an Iodine cut-off grade of 260 ppm. The volumetric estimates were made from 3 dimensional block models utilizing commercial mine modeling software. The Measured and Indicated resources contain blocks estimated for iodine, sulphate, and nitrate in two domains of the Aguas Blancas area: 1) the Virgin Area, where no previous mining activity has taken place and 2) the Repasos Area, where previous selected mining of shallow nitrate has taken place. The blocks were classified as Measured (50 meter drill grid), Indicated (100 meter drill grid) and Inferred (200 meter drill grid) based on the relative confidence from supporting data for each block. The Reserve estimation parameters were governed by estimated recoverable Iodine and economic estimates which will be available in the Technical Report on the SEDAR website (www.sedar.com). These include a calculated 260 ppm cutoff grade based on current and estimated costs going forward as well as assuming $28 per kg iodine price. Mining ore recovery is estimated at 95% with 16% dilution based on historical data. Process recovery is estimated at 56% overall for heap leach and 74% overall for agitated leach.

Tim Miller, President and CEO of Atacama, commented, "We are very pleased with the success of our drilling program at Aguas Blancas. It is a large and rich deposit where we are able to not only replace our mined ore but also add to the resources significantly. There is still ample opportunity for expansion and we look forward to continued excellent results with our reserve/resource delineation program. In addition, Atacama continues to look for investment and growth opportunities in South America."

Atacama is also pleased to announce that improvements at the Aguas Blancas mine continue to positively affect production. The year 2010 was a record production year, with 1,255 tonnes of iodine produced, and December, 2010 was another record production month, with 124 tonnes produced. The Agitated Leach Plant ("ALP") modifications were completed late in the year, and commissioning is underway. Ramp up to full production of the ALP is expected to take 6 months, as minor adjustments are made to the circuit and operators become more experienced with the system. Product from the modified crushing/screening circuit is achieving target size, and the leaching circuit is performing according to design.

In Brazil, the Salvador potash project continues to have difficulties with the first drill hole, encountering fractured, fragmented shales that the drilling machine cannot get through. After trying three separate rigs, it was determined that the hole should be abandoned and a new site selected. The second drill hole was completed earlier in the year and while containing potash salts, did not hit the massive salt zone. Permitting of additional drill sites is continuing, and two permitted locations currently remain to be tested. Gravimetric studies were expanded to help locate additional targets. Wardrop has been contracted to carry out an evaluation of the project potential and to recommend the path forward for continued exploration.

On behalf of the Board,

Tim Miller, President and CEO

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Contact Information

  • Atacama Minerals Corp.
    Sophia Shane
    Corporate Development
    (604) 689-7842
    (604) 689-4250 (FAX)
    www.atacama.com