Champion Minerals Inc.

Champion Minerals Inc.

November 21, 2011 07:00 ET

Champion Minerals Releases Updated Preliminary Economic Assessment Study for Fire Lake North Project and Initiates Feasibility Study

- Based on a 25 year financial analysis, Fire Lake North Base Case has a Net Present Value of $4 billion at a discounted cash flow rate of 8%

- The Internal Rate of Return for the project is 41.5% and the payback period is 2.3 years

- Annual production rate of 10 million tonnes of concentrate for the first 5 years

- Average annual production of 8.7 million tonnes of iron concentrate grading 65% total iron

- In Pit resources are sufficient for a 40 year mine life

- Study recommends investigating the option to double the production rate based on the 922 million Tonne "In Pit" resources

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2011) - Champion Minerals Inc. ("Champion" or the "Company") (TSX:CHM)(FRANKFURT:P02) is pleased to announce the results of its updated Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") study on the Fire Lake North Project that was performed by BBA Inc. ("BBA"). Concentrator production would average 8.7 million tonnes of concentrate per year ("Mtpa") grading 65% iron for the first 25 of the 40 year mine life; however, the first five years of the financial model will average nearly 10 Mtpa of concentrate production.

The 2011 PEA study produced a Net Present Value of $4 billion at a discounted cash flow rate of 8% with an Internal Rate of Return ("IRR") of 41.5% and a capital payback period of 2.3 years. The US$ exchange rate is assumed to be at par value with the Canadian dollar. Table 1 provides the Net Present Values calculated at various discounted cash flow rates for the Base Case production scenario.

The financial analysis in the PEA study used a price of $115 per tonne of iron concentrate ($/tonne is FOB Sept-Iles), the mine life in the study is 40 years and the capital payback period is 2.3 years.

Table 1: Fire Lake North – Preliminary Economic Assessment Results (Pre-Tax)
Internal Rate of Return (IRR) (8% Discount Rate) 41.5 %
Undiscounted Cash Flow 10.9 $ billion
Net Present Value @ 5% Discounted Cash Flow 5.6 $ billion
Net Present Value @ 8% Discounted Cash Flow 4.0 $ billion
Net Present Value @ 10% Discounted Cash Flow 3.2 $ billion
Payback Period (8% Discount Rate) 2.3 Years

The PEA was completed by Dr. André Allaire, Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., and Mr. Stéphane Normandin Eng., from BBA, an international, multi-disciplinary, engineering firm with expertise in mining and metallurgy, based in Montreal, (Quebec). BBA's National Instrument ("NI") 43-101 Technical Report will be posted by Champion on SEDAR at within 45 days of the date of this press release. The PEA study has an accuracy of +/-30%, which is considered industry standard for preliminary capital and operating cost estimates.

The PEA has been developed with a higher degree of detail than normally required, which will facilitate the transition directly into the Feasibility Study phase. In the Feasibility Study, both the Base Case option, as well as the option of adding a second production line, will be studied.

Excluding the contingency, the cost of rail and port infrastructure totals $325.6 million, as itemized in Table 2. The cost to develop the mine and concentrator complex totals $841.7 million, which equates to $97 per tonne of the 8.7 million tonnes of annualized production of iron concentrate, a typical rate for mines in the Fermont Iron Ore District.

Capital expenditures total $1,368 million for 100% of the Project with the cost of rail and port infrastructure included. This PEA study assumes the usage of the Sept-Iles multi user Port facility project that is planned for completion in Q1/Q2 2014.

Table 2: Capital Expenditures ($ millions)
Cost Centers $ millions
Pre-stripping of open pit areas 97.5
Concentrator and site infrastructure including loadout facilities 682.3
Railway (62km distance and 94km total including turnaround loop and sidings) 228.8
Port Facilities: Railcar unloading, stacker/reclaimer, conveyors 96.8
Environmental and Tailings Management 27.9
Other Pre Production Costs 34.0
Sub Total 1,167
Contingency 201
Grand Total (100% of the project) 1,368

As Champion holds an 82.5% interest in the Fire Lake North Project, it is responsible for this proportional share of the capital expenditures. Fancamp Exploration Ltd. is responsible for the remaining 17.5% of the capital expenditures.

Operating costs are outlined in Table 3.

Table 3: Operating Expenditures ($/Tonne of Concentrate)
Cost Parameters Average
25 years
years 1 to 5
Mining 22.56 12.13
Concentrator crushing and processing 4.52 3.97
Site Infrastructure, Sales, & General Administration 4.40 3.39
Environmental Tailings and Management 0.29 0.26
Rail Transport 15.52 16.14
Port facilities 3.72 3.57
Total 51.01 39.46
Equipment Lease Cost (not included in above total) 1.67 5.17

The production scenario maintains a strip ratio of 2:1 for the first three years of operation during the payback period, whereas the 25 year mine life is 3.7:1.

In this Project Base Case production scenario, the size of the autogenous grinding mill ("AG Mill") and associated horsepower was increased in order to optimize the production rate and enhance the economic metrics compared to the initial PEA completed in 2010.

The designed "In Pit" resources at an 8% Total Iron cut-off are 921.8 million tonnes grading 28.8% Total Iron. At a 15% cut-off grade, these resources decrease slightly to 908.5 million tonnes, grading 29.1% Total Iron whereas they amount to 833 million tonnes grading 30.1% Total Iron at a 20% cut off. This demonstrates the quality of the "In Pit" resources. The current global NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate was announced on October 3, 2011 (See Champion's press release dated October 3, 2011)1. As the designed "In Pit" resources of the Fire Lake North Project are now 921.8 million tonnes, the recommendation in the PEA is to evaluate the option of increasing the production rate by adding a second production line in the concentrator. This will be included in the scope of the 2012 Feasibility Study.

The PEA study is based on a stand-alone operation at Fire Lake North and does not consider any other adjacent projects in the area (refer to the appended Figure 1 map). The resource definition drilling program has been initiated and is designed to convert the majority of the current resources to the Measured and Indicated categories for the 2012 Feasibility Study for both production rate scenarios, i.e., associated to one or two concentrator production lines.

Results from the PEA indicate Fire Lake North to be a viable and economically robust project for the Base Case production scenario. Further evaluation of options to reduce costs and increase concentrate production could significantly enhance the project economics. The additional capital required to increase production with the addition of a second production line would be significantly less than the capital expenditures for this first production line. Other options will be evaluated during the course of the Feasibility Study with a focus on cost reduction. Ongoing discussions with strategic partners and stakeholders to evaluate various rail transportation options are being studied.

Tom Larsen, Champion's President and CEO states, "The excellent 2011 exploration results have translated into a more than threefold increase in the Net Present Value for Fire Lake North. We currently have sufficient resources to support two concentrator production lines of high quality iron concentrate. Fire Lake North will be Champion's initial mine operation due to the higher quality iron ore present that is coarser grained and clean of deleterious elements. With the PEA study in hand, we will continue our discussions with potential strategic partners as we move to complete the feasibility study in 2012. "

There is potential for Fire Lake North to become a significant low cost iron ore producer with a new concentrator equipped with today's advanced mineral processing technologies. The Company will further analyze lower cost opportunities during the Feasibility Study.

The Fire Lake North Project

Fire Lake North is located adjacent (to the north) of ArcelorMittal's operating Fire Lake Mine and is 60 km to the south of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.'s ("Cliffs") Bloom Lake Mine in northeastern Quebec. Fire Lake North is situated at the southern end of the Labrador Trough, known to be coarser grained due to higher grade metamorphism within the Grenville geological Province. The Fermont-Wabush-Labrador City Iron Ore District is world renowned Iron ore mining camp, and is considered to be an optimal location to develop Iron ore resource projects.

The four Iron ore producers in the vicinity comprise Canada's Iron ore production currently estimated at more than 40 million tonnes of Iron concentrate per year, including production from Cliffs' Bloom Lake Mine which was commissioned last year by Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Limited. It was the first mine to be built in this district since the 1970's.

About Champion Minerals Inc.

Champion Minerals Inc. is an Iron ore exploration and development company with offices in Montreal and Toronto, focused on developing its significant Iron ore resources in the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador. The Company's Iron projects include: the Fermont Holdings (714 km2) in Quebec, jointly held by Champion (82.5% interest) and Fancamp Exploration Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:FNC), (17.5% interest); and the Attikamagen Iron Property (310 km2) in Quebec and Labrador.

Champion's Fermont Holdings, including the flagship Fire Lake North Project, are located in Canada's only Iron ore producing district, in close proximity to four producing mine and concentrator complexes. Champion's management team and advisory board includes international mining and exploration professionals with operational expertise to effectively advance the Fire Lake North Project into feasibility, construction, commissioning, and production.

Additional resources hosted in Champion's adjacent projects (See Figure 1) could contribute further to the resource base for the Fire Lake North operation and possibly lead to additional production lines. Recent intersections announced at the Oil Can Project adjacent to the north of the Fire Lake North Project continue to define resources with potentially low strip ratios.

1 The quoted Mineral Resource estimates were calculated using the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), CIM Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions and Guidelines prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions and adopted by CIM Council June 30th, 2011.

1 Mineral resources, which are not mineral reserves, do not have demonstrated economic viability. The mineral resource estimate may be materially affected by environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, socio-political, marketing, or other relevant issues.

The technical information in this news release was prepared, revised and approved by Dr. André Allaire, Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., Mr. Stéphane Normandin Eng., from BBA Inc., and Mr. Jean Luc Chouinard Director of Projects for Champion Minerals. All individuals are Qualified Persons under NI 43-101 standards. Mr. Allaire and Mr. Normandin, are both independent of the issuer.

Please visit Champion's website at

Statements made in this news release that are "forward-looking statements" are not historical facts. Readers are cautioned that any such statements are not guarantees of future performance, and that actual developments or results may vary materially from those stated herein.

To view the figure, please visit the following link:

Contact Information

  • Champion Minerals Inc.
    Thomas G. Larsen
    President and CEO
    (416) 866-2200

    Champion Minerals Inc.
    Jorge Estepa
    (416) 866-2200

    Champion Minerals Inc.
    Salisha Hosein
    Director, Investor Relations
    (416) 866-2200