First Point Minerals Corp.

First Point Minerals Corp.

July 04, 2011 08:00 ET

First Point Minerals Announces Positive Metallurgical Test Results for the Decar Nickel-Iron Alloy Project

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 4, 2011) - First Point Minerals Corp. (TSX VENTURE:FPX) ("First Point" or the "Company") is pleased to announce positive metallurgical results from test work completed by Cliffs Natural Resources Exploration Inc., an affiliate of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF)(Paris:CLF) ("Cliffs"), for the Decar nickel project in central British Columbia.

The metallurgical test work shows the "naturally occurring" nickel-iron alloy is recoverable using a simple, low-risk, conventional two-stage grinding and magnetic separation process. This will produce a ferronickel concentrate grading 2.6% nickel based on an 80% recovery of the nickel-iron alloy, which represents 49% of the rock's total contained nickel. The concentrate also grades 52% iron as magnetite and 2.2% chromite.

"We are very gratified with these results, which fell within our targeted recovery of the nickel-iron alloy. It is a very important milestone for the project being able to demonstrate the nickel-iron alloy is recoverable in potentially economic amounts," said Peter Bradshaw, President and CEO of First Point. "This nickel-iron concentrate is very likely to be an attractive alternative to lateritic nickel ores for the production of nickel pig iron, as it is more consistent in grade and much lower in water content."

Clifford Smith, Cliffs' Senior Vice-President of Global Business Development, remarked during an analyst and investor presentation: "It doesn't have any of the processing problems associated with high pressure acid leach that is used in other parts of the world and as we developed flow sheets for this property in the last year, it became apparent that we can produce a ferronickel, with some chromite in it, in a concentrate form."

"The Decar project is something that we're very excited about. It had a lot of drilling on it last year and it's going to be our first major discovery as we move forward," said Clifford Smith. "We are going to finish proving out the resource base, finish proving the flow sheet and continue drilling this year, looking for a scoping study in the next year."

The metallurgical work was performed at the SGS laboratory in Lakefield, Ontario, and Cliffs' metallurgical facility in Michigan, under the supervision of Dr. Gordon Bacon, an independent metallurgical consultant, and under the direction of Keith Kramer, Engineer of Mineral Processing for Cliffs.

"The metallurgical results to date exceed expectations, and improved nickel grade will be achieved with some minor loss in recovery. The majority of the non-nickel minerals are predominantly magnetite with magnesium silicate. From a stainless steel making perspective there are no deleterious minor elements," said Dr. Gordon Bacon.

The metallurgical work was conducted on a composite 1,011-kg sample that was collected from the nine widely spaced drill holes completed in 2010, which tested the Baptiste and Sidney targets at the Decar property. Prior visual results of the selected drill core samples indicate that the composite metallurgical sample exhibits a fine-to-coarse grained range of nickel-iron alloy sizes from less than 50 microns to greater than 200 microns.

The head grade of the composite sample averaged 0.22% total nickel, of which 0.14% was present as nickel in the form of the nickel-iron alloy. The nickel present as nickel-iron alloy represents 64% of the total nickel. The remaining nickel is tied up in the silicate lattice of the rock forming minerals and, except for a minor amount, is not commercially recoverable.

Recovery of the nickel is achieved by using a primary grind of P80 600 microns, followed by magnetic separation. The magnetic fraction is then reground to a P80 25 microns size fraction and subjected to further magnetic separation. Test work shows that with further gravity processing, concentrate grades of greater than 4% nickel are achievable, with some subsequent minor loss in nickel recovery. While metallurgical test work is continuing to optimize recoveries, concentrate samples of various nickel grades will be sent to a number of steel mills for marketing and evaluation.

The Decar nickel-iron alloy project is being advanced under an option/joint venture agreement with Cliffs that was signed in November 2009. By spending US$4.5 million on exploration and development over a period of four years, Cliffs can earn an initial 51% interest in the Decar project. Cliffs has spent about US$2 million on exploration and development to date.

Once Cliffs has earned its initial 51% interest, it will then have the right to increase its property ownership (i) to 60% by completing a preliminary economic analysis in the form of a scoping study, (ii) to 65% by completing a prefeasibility study, and (iii) ultimately to 75% by completing a bankable feasibility study. Should Cliffs earn a 75% interest in Decar, First Point would hold the remaining 25% participating interest, plus a 1% net smelter return royalty interest.

As announced in First Point's News Release of June 20, 2011, Cliffs has begun the 2011 exploration program on the Decar nickel-iron alloy project, with a minimum 4,000-metre drilling program supervised by Caracle Creek International Consulting (CCIC).

First Point is also conducting a $2 million exploration search for new nickel-iron alloy targets worldwide in 2011, including a $370,000 regional sampling and mapping program on its seven other 100%-owned properties along trend to the northwest of the Decar project.

Dr. Gordon Bacon, P. Eng., an independent Qualified Person under NI43-101, has reviewed and approved the metallurgical content, while Dr. Peter Bradshaw, P. Eng., First Point's Qualified Person under NI43-101, has reviewed and approved the analytical content of this news release.

Dr. Bacon, P. Eng., received his BASc in mineral engineering and Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering both from UBC. He was President of Bacon Donaldson and Associates, a metallurgical consulting firm, for 21 years, following which he worked with Sherritt International Corp. and Inco Ltd. in senior roles.

About First Point

First Point Minerals Corp. is a Canadian base and precious metal exploration company. For more information, please view the Company's website at

On behalf of First Point Minerals Corp.

Peter Bradshaw, Ph.D., P. Eng., President

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain of the statements made and information contained herein is considered "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws. These statements address future events and conditions and so involve inherent risks and uncertainties, as disclosed in the Company's periodic filings with Canadian securities regulators. Actual results could differ from those currently projected. The Company does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

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