Empire Mining Corporation

Empire Mining Corporation

September 30, 2010 09:00 ET

Empire Mining Corporation: Bulqiza Chromite Project-Progress Report

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2010) - Empire Mining Corporation (TSX VENTURE:EPC) ("Empire") is pleased to provide the following progress report on its Bulqiza chromite project in Albania.


On May 25th, 2010, Empire announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a CDN$3.1 million royalty sale and associated private placement with Anglo-Pacific Group PLC, in connection with Empire's Bulqiza chromite project in Albania. The royalty sale represents the sale of a 3% gross royalty (net of certain costs) over product mined from Empire's Bulqiza chromite project. In conjunction with the royalty sale, the Company has also agreed to sell Anglo-Pacific up to 6,500,000 shares of Empire at $0.15 per share for net proceeds of up to $975,000. The transactions are subject to Anglo-Pacific completing due-diligence. Anglo-Pacific has completed its technical due-diligence respecting the project and is continuing with its legal due-diligence. Empire has been advised by its Albanian council that legal due-diligence is nearing completion and can reasonably be estimated to be completed at or about the end of October.


Chromite - Chromite is essential in the production of stainless steel and has no substitutes. According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, China produced about 36% of the world's stainless steel in 2009. China reportedly imports more than 95% of its chromite however, making it one of China's largest metal deficiencies. 

Drilling - On April 13th, 2010, Empire announced the commencement of a Phase I reconnaissance drilling program at its Bulqiza chromite project. A licence map can be viewed at the following link: 


The principal objective of the drilling campaign was to prove definitively that Empire's Bulqiza-Batra Licence covers the eastern mineralized extension of the fold structures (the "Eastern Limb") controlling and hosting the chromite ores in the productive Bulqiza and Batra mines (the "Orebody"). The Orebody has recorded past production of about 20 million tonnes of high-grade (35%-42% Cr2O3) and high metallurgical quality (CrFe ratios of up to 3:1) ore. Before the collapse of communism in the late 1980's, Albania was the world's third largest producer of chromite, the majority of which was produced from the Orebody. 

Past drilling by Albanian state geologists was unable to locate the Eastern Limb of the Orebody. Empire's work concluded that thrusting tectonics displaced the Eastern Limb of the Orebody, resulting in a complete reinterpretation of the structural setting of the entire ore field. This reinterpretation was supported by field observations and by detailed review of cross sections and drill-hole data from historical state drilling. In essence, Empire concluded that state geologists were looking in the wrong place and a Phase I drilling campaign was designed to demonstrate the validity of Empire's concept. The concept is illustrated at the following link:


Empire's Phase I drilling consisted of 13 core holes totalling 1,609 metres; more than initially planned. This drilling was successful in definitively confirming the existence of the Eastern Limb at both ends of the Orebody, which extends over 2 km of strike and over an average width of 500 metres. A longitudinal view of the Orebody can be viewed at the following link:


Drill core was submitted for assaying in batches as drilling progressed and sent to the OMAC/Stewart Laboratory in Loughrea, Ireland under strict QA/QP procedures, including standard reference material, blanks and chain of custody. The last batch of samples was submitted during the last week of August and results are pending.

Visual examination of drill core reveals 13 chromite intercepts for an aggregate 41.7 metres from the Bulqiza end of the Orebody and three chromite intercepts for a total of 3.9 metres from the Batra end of the Orebody. Full assay results will be published as soon as they have been received and checked. Visual indications display a mix of massive chromite along with banded and disseminated mineralisation that occurs in some cases more than once in the same drill-hole. Grades and thicknesses of massive mineralisation occur, as predicted, close to the structural cusp that is closely related to thrusting. 

Gallery 1440 at Bulqiza; Massive Mineralization - A major ventilation adit ("Gallery 1440") extends south over a length 5 km from the Bulqiza end of the Orebody to beyond the Batra end of the Orebody providing valuable infrastructure for drilling, evaluation and eventual mining of mineralisation within only a few tens of metres above Gallery 1440. Geological reconstructions of state records also indicate unmined blocks below, but in close proximity to Gallery 1440. Rehabilitation of Gallery 1440, consisting of the clearing of blockages, rock stability supports, safety upgrades and the re-establishment of track, commenced in early August and is ongoing. It is being rehabilitated along its entire 5 km length to provide access to drill sites in closer proximity to mineralization (versus drilling from surface) and to provide access to a second exit. Rehabilitation of the Gallery 1440 will also enable early mining of mineralisation identified in state records and of mineralization delineated by Empire's drilling; with the objective of achieving near-term cash-flow with minimal capital expenditures. Full access to the initial drill sites is expected to take a further month, although power and water for drilling will take up to an additional month to install. Drilling is planned to begin in December 2010 or January 2011 and will target banded and massive chromite mineralization intersected in Phase I drilling, 120 m above Gallery 1440. If confirmed by additional drilling, there is an opportunity to access these ores in the near-term by developing an incline from the Gallery 1440. The development of an incline would provide access for detailed sampling and evaluation and enable mining to be achieved in as early as six to eight months subject to favourable results and ground conditions. 

Gallery 1738 at Bulqiza; Open Pit Potential - Banded and disseminated chromite occurs from outcrop at the Bulqiza end of the Orebody where it is more than 10 metres thick. Continuity has been established in drilling and from hole to hole and mineralization has also been identified within an old adit ("Gallery 1738"), which has been re-opened and sampled. Exposed chromite in Gallery 1738 has a true thickness of 8 metres, of which 4 metres is banded and semi-massive. While mining of lower grade ores (15% to 35%) is not a principal objective of Empire, lower grade material might be amenable to upgrading by lower-cost gravity processing and is therefore potentially an additional source of revenue. Empire plans to evaluate the shallow disseminated and banded mineralisation for open pit potential with a shallow drilling program planned for the Spring of 2011 and by extending Gallery 1738 within chromite. Historically, a +50% Cr2O3 concentrate has been produced from lower grade ores in the district. Empire has arranged to test process two 100kg samples of lower-grade material with a local processing facility. 

A satellite image indicating the location of various galleries and of Bulqiza town relative to the project area can be viewed at the following link:


Gallery 25 at Thekna - Also within the Bulqiza-Batra Licence, 5 km southeast of the Bulqiza-Batra Orebody and believed to be part of the same structure, Empire's development team commenced rehabilitation in July of the level 25 adit ("Gallery 25") at the Thekna Deposit. A 3D model of the Thekna Deposit can be viewed at the following link: 


A 70 metre detour has been excavated around old workings to access an important underground drill site where previous state drilling intersected reported grades and thicknesses of up to 22 metres of 43% Cr2O3. Thekna is reported to host an historical state resource of 330,000 tonnes grading +40% Cr2O3 and Empire believes there is scope for significant expansion. Up to 1,000 metres of drilling is planned as a precursor to underground development and mining, and Empire is currently also evaluating the feasibility of sinking a 250 metre decline with a view to achieving early production. 

Caution: A qualified person has not done sufficient work to classify the historical estimate respecting the Thekna deposit as a current mineral resource. Empire is not treating the historical estimate as a current mineral resource and the historical estimate should not be relied upon.

The Next Twelve Months - Work performed at the Bulqiza chromite project to date has demonstrated that it is more cost effective to develop adits along mineralisation than it is to carry out surface diamond drilling, and that a metre of development is only marginally more expensive than a metre of drill hole. As new adits are developed, mineralization can be evaluated by underground mapping and sampling and can be combined with short (20-40 m) offset underground diamond drill holes where required to provide new resource estimates. Empire intends to convert exploration licences to mining licences as soon as practical with the aim of accelerating development within chromite mineralisation. Costs are estimated at $2.9 million in the next twelve month period, but with the potential to defray costs from the sale of chromite, utilising a plan to increase production incrementally in conjunction with exploration and development, from existing infrastructure where possible. In addition, up front capital costs can be minimized and deferred by utilizing contract miners.

*The term "Orebody" in this press release is used in the historical sense and is not meant to imply current economic viability.

Empire's Qualified Person, David C. Cliff, BSc (Hons), MIMMM, C Eng, FGS, also Empire's President & CEO, has reviewed and approved the content of this news release.


Robert F. Giustra, Chairman

This release contains forward-looking information and statements, as defined by law including without limitation Canadian securities laws and the "safe harbor" provisions of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("forward-looking statements"), respecting Empire Mining's exploration plans, and plans for the next 12 months. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including without limitation the ability to acquire necessary permits and other authorizations; obtaining TSX Venture Exchange and other regulatory approvals; environmental compliance; weather risks; cost increases; availability of qualified worker; availability of equipment; competition for mining properties; ability to convert exploration permits into development permits; risks associated with exploration projects, mineral reserve and resource estimates (including the risk of assumption and methodology errors); dependence on third parties for services; non-performance by contractual counterparties; title risks; and general business and economic conditions. There is no assurance that the Bulqiza Project will lead to a NI 43-101 resource, nor that future drilling will be desirable or conducted on the property. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions that may prove to be incorrect, including without limitation assumptions about: general business and economic conditions; favourable weather conditions; the timing and receipt of required approvals; availability of financing; ability to obtain required approvals including without limitation those of the TSX Venture Exchange; ability to locate applicable exemptions from securities law and policy respecting prospectus and registration requirements; power prices; ability to procure equipment and supplies; and ongoing relations with employees, partners and joint venturers. The foregoing list is not exhaustive and we undertake no obligation to update any of the foregoing except as required by law.

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.

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