Independent Nickel Corp.

Independent Nickel Corp.

November 13, 2007 06:00 ET

Independent Nickel Announces Positive Results of Lynn Lake Pre-Feasibility Study Improving Project Economics by 34%

SUDBURY, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 13, 2007) - Independent Nickel Corp. (TSX:INI) announced today that it has received results of the comprehensive pre-feasibility study for reopening the Lynn Lake nickel mine, prepared by Wardrop Engineering. Highlights of the base case of the pre-feasibility study include the following:

- A pre-tax internal rate of return ("IRR") of 29%;

- A pre-tax net present value ("NPV") of $131 million using an 8% discount rate (net of CAPEX);

- A pre-tax NPV of $179 million using an 5% discount rate (net of CAPEX), representing a 34% increase over the pre-tax NPV of Independent Nickel's October 25, 2006 Preliminary Economic Assessment;

- A payback on mine costs of 3 years;

- Pre-tax profit over an initial 11 year mine life of $296 million;

- Pre-production capital cost of $148 million;

- Cash cost of producing refined nickel product of $4.90 per pound of nickel, net of byproduct sales;

- Production rate of 3,000 tonnes per day;

- Average annual nickel production of 11.2 million lbs. (5,090 tonnes);

- Average annual copper production of 6.2 million lbs. (2,817 tonnes).

"This positive pre-feasibility study is another major milestone for Independent Nickel," stated Independent Nickel Corp. President and CEO, Richard Murphy, "With these demonstrably positive economics of the Lynn Lake nickel mine, we have increased the value of the asset and advanced the project significantly. We are following a path not unlike our nickel producing predecessor in Lynn Lake, as we move towards becoming an integrated nickel operation in Lynn Lake."

As part of the pre-feasibility study, 10.7 million tonnes of ore have been classified as a probable reserve at a diluted grade of 0.65% nickel and 0.36% copper. Wardrop Engineering has advised that the potential of adding to the reserve base is very high, which would thereby extend the mine life.

The prefeasibility study is based on the development of the 'N' and 'O' orebodies of the past producing Lynn Lake nickel mine. All mining operations would be conducted from underground, using a combination of mechanized cut and fill and sublevel longhole stoping mining methods.

Financial analysis

The financial base case assumes the 3 year trailing average price for metals, as well as a 3 year trailing average exchange rate. Several additional sensitivity analyses were undertaken using various parameters, including a 10% decrease in metal prices, current metal prices/exchange rates, a 10% increase in operating expenditures, and a 10% increase in capital expenditures. A financial summary of these sensitivities is presented in the following table:

DISCOUNTED ------------------------------------------------------
@ 5% RATES -10% +10% +10%
NI US$9.01 US$9.01 US$14.56 US$8.11 US$9.01 US$9.01
CAD/USD US$0.87 US$0.87 US$1.06 US$0.87 US$0.87 US$0.87
RATE 8% 5% 8% 8% 8% 8%

OF CAPEX) 29% 29% 60% 17% 23% 20%
NPV (NET $131 $179 $382 $53 $88 $89
(NET OF $296 $296 $730 $159 $220 $237

Two scenarios for treating the mine's concentrated product have been evaluated.

The primary scenario, with superior economics, is the construction of an integrated nickel operation ("INO") at Lynn Lake. This scenario involves constructing a conventional bioleaching circuit, together with the mill and concentrator. The final leached product would then be converted to nickel, copper and cobalt metal cathodes through solvent extraction and electrowinning circuits, producing a product that can be sold on world metal markets.

The second scenario being assessed by Wardrop is the sale of the concentrate to a third party smelter/refiner. This latter scenario also produces positive project economics. The concentrate which contains 9.3% nickel, 7.5% copper and 0.3% cobalt is expected to generate market interest.

Advantages of an integrated nickel operation

As part of the pre-feasibility study process, Wardrop Engineering determined that the metal recoveries from an integrated nickel operation, involving the production of refined nickel metal, are excellent. Recoveries from the mill and concentrator are 81.5% for nickel, 92.0% for copper and 80.5% for cobalt. As an integrated nickel producer, Independent Nickel would join a group of only 3 integrated producers in North America and will be strategically positioned to realize the maximum value from its nickel ores and nickel production assets.

Capital Expenditures

As the Town of Lynn Lake has a 50 year history of mining and mineral processing, there are no requirements to capitalize local access or infrastructure in order to advance the project. Lynn Lake is located on Provincial Highway 391, the rail head for the northwestern part of Manitoba is located on the mine property, and the local airport has a 5,000 foot landing strip. There are 2 local hydro generating stations that are tied in to the provincial power grid and the industrial electricity costs in Manitoba are among the lowest in North America.

Pre-production capital costs are $148 million including the construction of all surface facilities, purchase of mining equipment and sufficient underground rehabilitation to ramp up to full production at a rate of 3,000 T/day. Sustaining capital over the 11 year mine life is $141 million, which includes ongoing underground development. The average contingency included in these capital costs is 18%.

Operating costs

Total operating costs per tonne for mining and milling of the ore are $70.55. Cash costs of producing refined nickel product, per pound of nickel, are $4.90, which is net of copper and cobalt sales.

Operating costs have been allocated based on both mechanized cut and fill and longhole stoping mining methods. Operating costs are based on current prices for equipment, materials and supplies, labour and salaries.

Future Plans

Having completed the pre-feasibility study for Lynn Lake, Independent Nickel is now working with Wardrop in developing plans for an integrated advanced exploration program and full feasibility study. As part of this next stage of advancement before production, Independent Nickel plans on dewatering the mine, rehabilitating the Farley shaft and main haulage drifts in order to access the orebodies. Independent Nickel also plans on continuing with the ongoing exploration drilling, which will shift from surface-based work to drilling from underground as the mine is dewatered.

In addition to minesite work, INI will be moving to the next level of bioleach process development with a view to working together with a 3rd party possessing expertise in development and design of bioleach reactors.

Independent Nickel is in a strong financial position to proceed with the advancement of the Lynn Lake project, with $9 million currently in working capital.

About Independent Nickel Corp.

Independent Nickel owns 100% of the Lynn Lake Nickel Mine, located in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Independent Nickel also owns a Net Smelter Return Royalty ("NSR") on Victory Nickel Inc.'s Minago Nickel Property, also located in Northern Manitoba. The NSR pays Independent Nickel 3% of all mineral product value when nickel prices exceed US$6/lb.

The prefeasibility study referenced in this press release has been completed by Wardrop Engineering under the direction of Tim Maunula P.Geo. in accordance with Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects as defined by National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101). Mr. Maunula is the Project Manager for the Lynn Lake pre-feasibility study. He has reviewed and approved the content of this press release. In addition, the following qualified persons contributed to the study: Ivan Arriagada, P. Eng., Peter, Broad, P.Eng., Alex Veresezan, P.Eng. and Shahe Naccashian, P.Geo.

The Qualified Person responsible for the technical content of this news release is Richard Murphy, P.Geo., President and CEO of Independent Nickel Corp.

A National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report will be filed on SEDAR within the 30 days of the issuance of this news release.

Current metal prices and exchange rates are as at November 9, 2007.

This document may contain forward-looking statements relating to Independent Nickel Corp.'s (INI) operations or to the environment in which it operates. Such statements are based on operations, estimates, forecasts and projections. They are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict and may be beyond INI's control. A number of important factors could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements, including those set forth in other public filings. In addition, such statements relate to the date on which they are made. Consequently, undue reliance should not be placed on such forward-looking statements. INI disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, save and except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

Contact Information

  • Independent Nickel Corp.
    Richard Murphy
    President and CEO
    (705) 521-8444
    pro-edge consultants inc.
    Tracy Weslosky
    (416) 581-0177 or Toll Free: 1-866-544-9622
    pro-edge consultants inc.
    Fred Cowans
    (416) 581-0177 or Toll Free: 1-866-544-9622