Selwyn Resources Ltd.
TSX VENTURE : SWN

Selwyn Resources Ltd.

April 17, 2012 09:00 ET

Selwyn Progress Update

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 17, 2012) - Selwyn Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:SWN) ("Selwyn" or the "Company") is pleased to update investors on the progress of the feasibility study for the Selwyn Project, the financing of the restart of the ScoZinc Mine and other corporate developments. The successful financing of Selwyn's two key projects is important to the Company's growth and realization of shareholder value.

Corporate

On March 26, 2012, Selwyn announced the engagement of Cutfield Freeman & Co. Ltd. as advisors to the Company to assist Selwyn in evaluating its financing and strategic options in relation to the Selwyn Project and the ScoZinc Mine. Their mandate includes consideration of all financing alternatives including debt, equity and other financial instruments, as well as concentrate off-take finance, partnership and corporate alternatives for Selwyn's projects.

More recently, Selwyn entered into a $10 million non-revolving secured debt facility (the "Facility") with Waterton Global Value, L.P. (see April 10, 2012 news release). Selwyn has drawn $2M under the Facility and intends to use the funds for general working capital. Under the Facility a maximum of $3 million can be drawn prior to the Company receiving the Industrial Authorization from the government of Nova Scotia for the Southwest Expansion of the Main deposit at ScoZinc. ScoZinc has successfully completed environmental assessment and received approval for the Southwest Expansion and is awaiting for the operating permit, the Industrial Authorization, which it expects in the near future.

Selwyn's unaudited working capital was approximately $1.5 million as at April 1, 2012, not including any draw down under the Facility. Selwyn's monthly expenditures for its general corporate and administrative costs and ScoZinc maintenance and refurbishment costs, aggregate approximately $600,000 per month. Selwyn continues to evaluate other financing opportunities for strengthening its working capital position as well as financing the ScoZinc Mine and ultimately the Selwyn Project.

Selwyn Project

The Selwyn Project is being advanced by Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. ("Selwyn Chihong"), the joint venture company formed by Selwyn and Chihong Canada Mining Ltd. ("Chihong") in August 2010. Aggregate joint venture expenditures to March 31, 2012, which have been funded through $100 million of joint venture earn-in funds provided by Chihong, are approximately $88. The $12 million of remaining earn-in funds are being used for the final Howard's Pass Joint Venture purchase payment and to complete a bankable feasibility study (the "base case feasibility study") and continued engineering and permitting activities. The base case feasibility study is now expected to be completed in late 2012; however, it is expected that considerable additional work will be required to refine the mine plan and feasibility study to incorporate potential improvements and optimization of the mine and mill plans with the view of improving the economics of the Project.

Selwyn Chihong continues valuation of mining methods and optimization of mining costs. Mine planning work is also being undertaken by ENFI, the Beijing-based engineering institute. Work continues to evaluate concentrate shipping alternatives and the use of LNG as an alternative for generation of power for mine operations. The latter has the potential to significantly reduce energy costs.

Selwyn is undertaking its own evaluation of the merits of adding open pit operations to the initial mine development plan as a part of a refinement of the feasibility study (see November 7, 2011 news release). Initial work on open pit opportunities follows on from work that was part of the Preliminary Assessment that evaluated open pit potential at the Selwyn Project; the report is available on SEDAR (see January 8, 2007 news release).

Selwyn Metallurgical Work

Metallurgical testwork has confirmed that standard flotation technology can produce good quality zinc concentrate grading 56% zinc with recoveries of more than 80%. With lead concentrate grades of 60% recoveries vary from 35 to 75%; more testwork is in progress to better define lead recoveries (see April 2012 Annual Information Form on SEDAR). Additional testwork is underway to assess the integration of Dense Media Separation ("DMS") technology into the mill plan and evaluate ore variability within the deposits being considered for early development. This work is expected to be completed in mid-2012.

As part of the review of metallurgical processing for the Project, the potential application of DMS technology was re-evaluated by Bateman Engineering in mid-2011. DMS was evaluated in the original Selwyn Project Preliminary Assessment report (see January 18, 2007 news release) and its application was considered favourable for inclusion in the processing plan. However, that report was based on the mining of several of the mineral deposits by open pit methods; whereas the development plan for the base case feasibility study focuses on the mining of the XY Central and Don deposits by underground methods.

Preliminary information from the Bateman re-evaluation of the inclusion of DMS in the crushing circuit indicates that it could provide significant reductions in overall energy consumption in the processing of the mineralization. Additional work is planned to further evaluate both the implications of including DMS in the current mill plan and what amendments would be needed to the mill plan to accommodate the DMS circuit. The benefits of a DMS circuit include the rejection of non-mineralized material within the ore, resulting in a reduction in material to be milled and a corresponding increase in grade of mineralization being milled, along with an overall reduction in power consumed for grinding.

Selwyn Mineral Resource Expansion

Extensive drilling in the fall of 2010 and 2011 was successful in converting Inferred category mineral resources into the Indicated category for use in mine planning of XY Central and Don deposits (see September 12, 2011 news release) and use in the base case feasibility study. Global Indicated mineral resources for the 93, 94, and 95 lenses of the XY Central deposit total 29.9 million tonnes grading 6.35% zinc and 2.69% lead and Global Indicated mineral resources of 36.9 million tonnes grading 5.63% zinc and 2.11% lead in the Don deposit. The mineral resource estimate, to NI 43-101 standards, was prepared by Independent Qualified Persons, Mr. Garth Kirkham, P.Geo., of Kirkham Geosystems Ltd., Burnaby, British Columbia. Mr. Kirkham undertook the 3D modeling and resource estimation, and Mr. Cliff Pearson, P.Geo., Pearson Geological Inc., Victoria, British Columbia, undertook the detailed field evaluation of data collection protocols at the project worksite (see September 12, 2011 news release).The higher grade portions of the mineral resources are the basis for the proposed underground mining within the base case feasibility study that is in progress.

Currently the Company is working with Mr. Kirkham in updating the mineral resources of the XY West deposit. It is anticipated that when completed, the updated mineral resource for the XY West deposit will increase from the previous Inferred mineral resource of 1.9 million tonnes grading 7.70% zinc and 2.45% lead. The expected expansion of mineral resources is due to positive drilling results that increased the known extent of zinc and lead mineralization (see September 19, 2011 news release). The mineral resource to NI 43-101 standards for XY West was done by Non-Independent Qualified Person, Mr. John J. O'Donnell, P.Geo., formerly with the Company, who undertook the 3D modeling and resource estimation (see February 26, 2009 news release).

Recent drilling in the Don Connector target has confirmed that the thick mineralization at depth, in both the Don and Don East deposits, appears to be continuous (see April 16, 2012 news release). A total of 10,638.5 metres of drilling was completed in fourteen drill holes. Eleven of the drill holes intersected zinc-lead mineralization over thicknesses from 15 to more than 70 metres; assays are pending and will be release after passing QAQC protocols. The drill holes tested an area of approximately 600 metres by 225 metres and the wide-spaced drill holes confirmed continuity of the zinc-lead mineralization. The Don Connector target requires additional definition drilling to confirm mineral resources; however, the thick intercepts of mineralization demonstrate a very attractive target for expansion of mineral resources. The shallow dip and thickness of the mineralization make this an attractive new area for early mine development. Investors should be cautioned that it is unclear at this time whether the additional drilling on this target will result in mineral resources to NI 43-101 standards.

Selwyn Permitting and Community Consultation

The Selwyn Project has not formally entered the environmental permitting process for seeking permits and licences for development of a mine at the Project. Finalization of the environmental assessment report for the Selwyn Project is awaiting the completion of the mine development plan. Upon completion of the Project Report, it will be submitted to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB) for environmental assessment review. This review is expected to take at least one year to complete and will be followed by the regulatory phase of granting of a Quartz Mining Licence and Type A Water Licence that are the key licences for mine and infrastructure construction.

Selwyn Chihong's preferred access route for transportation of mine equipment, supplies and concentrates is the historic Howard's Pass Access Road that was developed in the late 1970s; the road precedes land claim negotiations and is deemed a "grandfathered road". It is proposed to refurbish this road and replace bridges and culverts to provide for an all season access road for the Project. In June 2008, Selwyn Chihong secured a land use permit for refurbishment of the road. An application has been made for a Licence of Occupation for the road that would provide for a renewable 30-year license for use of a 57 kilometre segment of the 79 kilometre road, which licence will be issued by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The remaining 22 kilometres of road are within the Naha Dehé Dene Band's traditional lands and the Nahanni National Park Reserve. Selwyn Chihong is now awaiting a similar licence from Parks Canada. Selwyn Chihong will be making application to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, NWT, for new licences that will allow for upgrading and expansion of the road for use in the haulage of concentrates.

Selwyn Chihong has undertaken extensive consultation with local communities including the various First Nations communities in both the Yukon and Northwest Territories. These consultations are directed at addressing environmental and socio-economic concerns as required by the various environmental and socio-economic assessment regulatory groups.

In the summer of 2010, Selwyn Chihong completed a Cooperation Agreement with the Sahtu First Nation groups Tulita Land Corporation, Fort Norman Metis Land Corporation and Fort Simpson Land Corporation in the Northwest Territories (see May 6, 2010 news release). That agreement is in respect of activities within their traditional territory and particularly the part of the Howard's Pass Access Road that is within the Sahtu lands.

Selwyn Chihong has also entered into preliminary discussions with the Naha Dehé Dene Band located at Nahanni Butte in the Northwest Territories and the parties are completing a funding agreement for the negotiation of a cooperation agreement in respect of Selwyn Chihong's activities on the southern part of the Howard's Pass Access Road.

Selwyn Chihong and Selwyn have undertaken extensive consultation with the Kaska First Nation in the Yukon, and in particular Ross River Dena Council and Liard First Nation. Initial consultations are nearing a conclusion with the Kaska and an Interim Measures Agreement ("IMA") is expected to be signed shortly. The IMA will address environmental and socioeconomic matters during the exploration phase of the Selwyn Project and are to form the foundation of the negotiation of a Socioeconomic Participation Agreement that will include exploration, development, production and closure and reclamation. The IMA provides employment, training and services opportunities.

ScoZinc Project

Selwyn completed the acquisition of ScoZinc Limited on May 31, 2011 for $10 million and announced its plan to restart the mining and milling of the ScoZinc Mine (see June 1, 2011 news release). Since completion of the acquisition, ScoZinc has expended $7 million on mill and mine refurbishment, engineering, permitting, purchase of surface rights and exploration activities. During this period, Selwyn has actively pursued the approximate $30 million in debt and equity required for the restart of the ScoZinc Mine.

Although numerous proposals have been evaluated, Selwyn has been unable to secure the required capital for the restart of operations. Efforts to conclude the restart financing on reasonable terms have been frustrated due to a variety of economic conditions related to volatility in the debt markets and generally weaker zinc and lead prices over the past 12 months. Ongoing discussions are primarily with industrial groups who are interested in acquiring a secure supply of high grade zinc and lead concentrates. Zinc and lead prices are expected to improve in the later part of this year and early 2013 and should offer additional financing opportunities for the restart of the ScoZinc Mine.

ScoZinc Project Development

Resource and mine planning continue to evaluate the expansion of the initial development plan that was set forth in the Preliminary Economic Assessment that was announced August 30, 2011. The re-start plan provides for the initial development of the Main Pit and an expansion of the current pit to the Southwest. With completion of mine planning and permitting of the Main deposit, and the submission of reports for permits for the Southwest Expansion of the Main Pit, efforts then shift to the development of the Northeast and Getty deposits as open pit operations. Each of these requires more drilling and detailed mine planning and engineering to demonstrate project economics and to finalize mine design required for permitting these deposits. In addition, there is high grade mineralization that underlies Gay's River that separates the Main and Northeast deposits. The potential to mine by underground methods, high grade mineralization defined by previous operators, will also be evaluated as a supplement to the proposed mine plan.

ScoZinc Permitting and Mine Expansion

In October 2011, ScoZinc received environmental approval for the Southwest Expansion of the Main Pit (see October 11, 2011 news release). With the environmental approval for the expansion of the Main Pit, ScoZinc has made application for the Industrial Authorization which will provide the operating approvals for mining the Southwest Expansion in conjunction with the Main Pit. It is expected that the Industrial Authorization will be issued shortly. Additional permitting is required for development of the Northeast and Getty deposits; however, the history of operations suggest that such permits can be obtained when sufficient additional information is obtained for the applications and submissions to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Nova Scotia Department of Environment.

Selwyn Resources Ltd.

Selwyn's primary focus remains the exploration and development of the properties that make up the Selwyn Project in the Yukon, by the joint venture comprised of Selwyn and Chihong. The Selwyn Project hosts large tonnages of zinc-lead mineralization which have the potential for large-scale production, and could provide a secure supply of zinc and lead to meet the future needs of the markets in Asia and beyond. The recent acquisition of ScoZinc Limited provides Selwyn with a second opportunity for growth and production revenues in the near term. The re-development of the ScoZinc Mine will enhance the Company's ability to finance its participation in the Selwyn Project.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning the advancement of the Selwyn Project, the results and status of the feasibility study that is being carried out on the Selwyn Project and the restart and proposed operations at the ScoZinc Mine. These forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and judgments of management regarding future events or results that may prove to be inaccurate as a result of market conditions for commodities, the results of exploration activities and engineering studies, Selwyn's ability to raise sufficient capital on terms acceptable to it in order to enable it to fund its corporate, exploration, permitting and development activities and other risk factors that are beyond Selwyn's control. For a full review of the risks related to Selwyn's operations and the market for its shares, investors should view "risk factors" in Selwyn's Annual Information Form dated March 28, 2012. As a result, there is no assurance that the Selwyn Project or the ScoZinc Mine will be advanced to production or that timelines for development of the Selwyn Project or the ScoZinc Project will be achieved.

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

  • Selwyn Resources Ltd.
    Dr. Harlan Meade
    President and CEO
    +1 (604) 801-7240 or Toll-free: +1 (888) 989-9188

    Selwyn Resources Ltd.
    Catalin Chiloflischi
    Manager of Investor Communications
    +1 (604) 801-7240 or Toll-free: +1 (888) 989-9188
    +1 (604) 689-8355 (FAX)
    info@selwynresources.com
    www.selwynresources.com