Mindoro Resources Ltd.

Mindoro Resources Ltd.

July 28, 2011 06:30 ET

Mindoro Receives Positive Thermal Upgrade Test Results from Agata, Commences Stage 1 Iron-Nickel Production Scoping Study and Provides General Progress Update

- Thermal tests produce significant iron-nickel upgrades, key milestone for early production

- Scoping study and economic assessment of Stage 1 iron-nickel production initiated

- Pre-feasibility study on the Stage 2 acid-leach nickel project progressing well, due October

- Regional drilling for additional nickel resources continues with a resource increase due Q3

- Nickel Exploration Target of January 2010 is under review and reduction likely

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 28, 2011) - Mindoro Resources Ltd (TSX VENTURE:MIO)(ASX:MDO)(FRANKFURT:WKN 906167) is pleased to report positive results with significant iron and nickel upgrades from bench and larger scale thermal upgrading tests on laterite samples from the Agata Nickel Project. On the basis of the encouraging test results Mindoro has commenced a scoping study to examine two scales of iron-nickel sinter production, to be completed by September 2011.

The process of sintering and partial reduction involves heating the lateritic material in a furnace in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius (ºC) in the presence of a reductant such as coal. This has the effect of driving off all moisture, including water within the clay minerals, and also reducing oxygen content by reaction with coal. A reduced iron-nickel "sinter" has no moisture, much improved blending properties and importantly, a dramatically reduced shipping cost, which results in added-value over direct shipping of unprocessed lateritic ores.

"We are very pleased with the results of the thermal upgrading testing program. This is a key milestone towards value-adding and enhancing the economics of a potential first stage of production," said Mindoro's President and Chief Executive Officer Jon Dugdale. "The completion of a scoping study with a positive economic assessment would precede a feasibility study into Stage 1 production."

Mindoro is pursuing an integrated two-stage development approach to the Agata Nickel Project. Stage 1 was initially based on direct shipping of ore (DSO) only, as announced in the results of the Preliminary Economic Assessment on March 29, 2011. Thermal upgrading has been identified as having the potential to significantly enhance the economics of Stage 1 and mitigate the current market uncertainty for unprocessed DSO material.

The Agata laterite has a layer at the top of the profile termed the "Ferruginous Laterite" that is iron-rich (Fe) but has lower nickel (Ni) grades (>45% Fe, <0.9% Ni). Recent drilling at Agata South included thicker intersections of this material including in ASL001: 4.7m of 50% Fe, 0.59% Ni and 0.11% Co from surface (see release dated July 6, 2011). Discussions with potential off-takers indicate this material is in demand as a DSO product for the Chinese steel-making market. Mindoro is investigating the potential market for an upgraded iron-nickel sinter based on this near surface material that would otherwise be sub-grade "overburden" for the Stage 2 acid-leach processing operation.

On the basis of these results, Mindoro has commenced a scoping study and preliminary economic analysis for two scales of its thermal upgrading project, one producing 120,000 tonnes of iron-nickel sinter per annum and the second producing 600,000 tonnes of iron-nickel sinter per annum. The scoping study will examine capital and operating costs, supporting infrastructure and marketing the final product.

The scoping study, due for completion by end September 2011, will provide the necessary information upon which the Company can upgrade permitting and progress the Stage 1 iron-nickel sinter project to feasibility.

Stage 2 Pre-Feasibility Study

The Agata Nickel Project Stage 2 pre-feasibility study is progressing well, based on the positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) released March 29, 2011 that described a 15 year project producing 18,000 tonnes of nickel in intermediate product per annum at low operating costs of US$1.65 per nickel pound (lb), with by-product credits, and a Net Present Value (NPV) at US$10/lb nickel price of US$390 million.

Metallurgical test-work in progress at SGS Minerals' laboratories in Lakefield, Canada, in progress, has backed up the very high nickel extractions and fast leaching rates of the Agata resources that were achieved in the initial testing (see release December 13 2010). Site locations for processing and residue storage have been selected and engineering studies are in progress. The study is due for completion in October 2011.

Exploration Program for Resource Expansion

The Company has been methodically drilling the Exploration Target area, of some 900 hectares, with the goal to expand upon the existing nickel laterite resource at Agata. Approximately half the area has been drilled and the Company is awaiting final results before finalizing a resource estimate increase that will be almost entirely a measured and indicated resource for open-pit mineral inventory purposes and incorporation into the Stage 2 pre-feasibility study production schedule. A component of the resource estimate will be allocated to the Stage 1 iron-nickel sinter project scoping study schedule.

Indications from initial resource modeling show that the mineralized areas drilled to date are not as thick or as continuous as had been supposed by the original Exploration Target for those areas (see release January 11, 2010). There remain five more exploration target areas to be drilled, namely San Jose, Tapian-MAMATFA, Tapian-Corplex, Villariza and Mat-I. At this point, it appears the magnitude of resource expansion for the areas drilled could be half what the January 2010 Exploration Target estimated for those areas. More data needs to be incorporated before the resources of the Exploration Target areas drilled to date can be fully modeled and estimated; the report is expected in Q3.

Jon Dugdale explained, "While it appears the Exploration Target will not be as big as we first thought, we believe that sufficient additional resources do exist to extend the projected life of the project well beyond the 15 years outlined in the Preliminary Economic Assessment released March 29 and will also provide for the early-stage iron-nickel sinter project scoping study. The Agata project is solidly advancing towards feasibility."

Technical Details of the Thermal Upgrading Tests

Mindoro commissioned bench-scale test-work to investigate thermal upgrading options for the Agata Nickel laterite. The tests were carried out at SGS laboratories in Perth (SGS) and included sintering and partial reduction with gas, oil or coal as the reductant. The best upgrades, achieved with coal as a reductant, produced significant upgrades in nickel (Ni) and iron (Fe) from limonite samples based on sintering-partial reduction and then magnetic separation. At the sintering-partial reduction stage an upgrade of over 25% (1.25 times) on a dry basis for both nickel and iron was achieved, while the best recoveries were greater than 95% for both nickel and iron. Magnetic separation on the two limonite samples produced a total upgrade of 100% (2 times) and 200% (3 times) for nickel grade and 50-100% for iron grade, also on a dry basis. Recovery of nickel and iron to the magnetic fraction was below target at less than 80%, but may be improved through grinding and different magnet configurations.

The samples provided by Mindoro were analysed at SGS and produced nickel and iron assays for Limonite of 1.40% Ni, 40.7% Fe and Saprolite of 1.38% Ni, 12.2% Fe.

The procedure that produced the greatest upgrade on limonite samples, with coal as the reductant, was as follows:

  1. Blended ore and coal held at elevated temperature (>1000ºC) for two hours in a non-oxidising atmosphere, followed by cooling and magnetic separation
  2. Roasting stage: >20% mass decrease, 1.2-1.3 times Ni upgrade, 1.3 times Fe upgrade
  3. Recovery from roast to magnetic fraction: nickel 70%, iron recovery 47%
  4. Overall upgrade from feed to magnetic fraction: 2 to 3 times nickel, 1.4 to 1.9 times iron.

A summary of the test results is presented in the table below:

Test Feed Assay Roast Assay Upgrade Magnetic Sep Assay Mag Sep Recovery Overall Upgrade
Ni Fe Ni Fe Ni X Fe X Yield Ni Fe Ni Fe Ni X Fe X
5.1 Lim + oil 1.41% 40.7% 1.75% 48.3% 1.2 1.2 69.0% 2.10% 52.5% 66.7% 59.3% 1.5 1.3
5.2 Lim + oil 1.41% 40.7% 1.80% 49.6% 1.3 1.2 72.7% 2.12% 56.0% 66.7% 65.5% 1.5 1.4
5.3 Lim + coal 1.41% 40.7% 1.64% 52.0% 1.2 1.3 79.0% 2.78% 59.0% 71.9% 46.5% 2.0 1.4
5.4 Lim + coal 1.41% 40.7% 1.98% 57.2% 1.4 1.4 67.8% 4.20% 79.3% 61.8% 41.5% 3.0 1.9

Similar sintering and partial reduction tests were performed by GITS Sintering Tech Corp. (GITS) in Manila, at a test facility established in the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Manila (a non-ISO accredited facility). Four 250 kg samples at a range of grades were tested including ferruginous laterite sample #1 that assayed 0.67% Ni, 49.7% Fe. The best nickel-iron upgrades were achieved by sintering and partial reduction with the highest amount of coal at 15%, above 1000ºC and over a 50-minute sintering period (i.e. highest temperature and longest sintering time). The level of upgrade was similar SGS tests at 1.2 to 1.3 times. Initial magnetic separation tests produced a modest upgrade but more test work is required to optimize the magnetic separation process.

The average 1.2 to 1.3 times upgrades on a dry basis achieved in the bench scale tests at SGS and the larger scale tests in Manila (GITS), will be applied to the scoping study for production of a thermally upgraded iron-nickel sinter product.

On behalf of the Board of Directors

Jon Dugdale, President and CEO


Mindoro is a Tier 1 Issuer trading on the TSX Venture Exchange (MIO), Australian Securities Exchange (MDO) and Frankfurt Stock Exchange (WKN 906167). Mindoro is focused on nickel exploration and development and copper and gold exploration in the Philippines with a strategy of advancing early-stage opportunities to production or joint venture.

Mindoro has NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimates on its Agata nickel-cobalt project, that include a Measured and Indicated resource of 32.6 million tonnes at 1.04% nickel for 340,000 tonnes contained nickel, and NI 43-101 Mineral Resource estimates on its Lobo and Archangel (Kay Tanda) gold-silver projects, as well as 10 key porphyry copper-gold prospects.

Mindoro recently released an integrated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the Agata Nickel Project in the Surigao District, Mindanao, where the Company controls major nickel laterite resources and is drill testing regional targets. The Company has commenced a prefeasibility study into an integrated on site nickel processing project based on the PEA. The Company is also assessing the potential to develop a thermally processed (upgraded) nickel ore operation to generate early cash flow.

Drilling is in progress testing the Pan de Azucar gold-copper massive sulphide where extensions at shallow depth are being tested. Mindoro is planning a drilling program to expand gold resources and test high-grade targets at Batangas and is evaluating and prioritizing its many high-potential copper-gold targets prior to further drill targeting.

The Company's thermal processing and large scale production objectives are intended to provide an indication of management's current expectations and are still conceptual in nature. It is uncertain that sufficient resources will be established and if established that these resources will be converted into economically viable mining reserves. Until a feasibility study has been completed, there is no certainty that these objectives will be met.

Mindoro's exploration programs are prepared and/or designed and carried out under the supervision of Tony Climie, P.Geo., who is a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 and is a competent person as defined by the JORC Code, and who has reviewed and verified the pertinent disclosure of exploration related technical information contained in this news release. Mr. Climie is an executive and a director of Mindoro and is a member of the Alberta Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists Association. Mr. Climie has more than five years of experience which is relevant to the style of mineralization and type of deposit under consideration and to the activity which he has undertaken. Mr. Climie has consented to the release of the pertinent exploration related technical information in the form and context in which it appears.

Peimeng Ling, a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum is a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, and a competent person as defined by the JORC Code, has reviewed and verified the disclosure of a development and processing nature contained in this news release. Peimeng Ling has more than five years of experience which is relevant to the activity which she has undertaken and she has consented to the release of the pertinent development related information in the form and context in which it appears.

The Company's resource estimates were originally prepared in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects of the Canadian Securities Administrators ("NI 43-101") and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum classification system. NI 43-101 is a rule developed by the Canadian Securities Administrators that governs how Canadian issuers disclose scientific and technical information about mineral projects and which is broadly equivalent to the JORC Code in Australia. All resource information is also expressed in terms of the JORC Code.

This release may contain forward-looking statements including management's assessments of future plans and operations, and expectations of future production. These statements are based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. These risks include, but are not limited to, the risks associated with the mining and exploration industry (e.g. operational risks in development, exploration and production; delays or changes in plans with respect to exploration or development projects or capital expenditures; the uncertainty of reserve estimates; the uncertainty with respect to results of exploration, the uncertainty of estimates and projections relating to production and the uncertainty of the availability of capital). The assumptions used in the preparation of such statements, although considered reasonable at the time of preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update forward looking statements except where required to do so by law.

Neither 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

  • For investor relations inquiries:
    Mindoro Resources Ltd.
    Melbourne office
    +61 3 9614 5055

    NWR Communications
    Nathan Ryan
    +61420 582 887

    CHF Investor Relations
    Jennie Guay
    +416 868 1079 ext 242

    Aprendo Capital
    Robert Sarcher
    +49 821 6089051