Preliminary Assessment Supports Company’s Recommended Work Program on Cerro Blanco Project
SANTIAGO, Chile, July 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — White Mountain Titanium Corporation (“White Mountain” or the “Company”) (BULLETIN BOARD: WMTM) reports that Thomas A. Henricksen, PhD., an independent professional consulting geologist and a qualified person under Canadian National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101″), was retained to compile a NI 43-101 compliant preliminary assessment of the Cerro Blanco project (the “Assessment”). The Assessment incorporates by reference a NI 43-101 technical report on the Cerro Blanco property prepared by Mr. Henricksen dated February 25, 2008 as well as reports prepared for the Company by other independent experts in their fields. The latter reports include preliminary process engineering and costing report prepared by AMEC-Cade dated March, 2008, a preliminary pit design report prepared by NCL Ingenieria y Construccion dated May 2008, various metallurgical reports prepared by SGS Lakefield, an environmental base line study prepared by Arcadis Geotecnica dated December 2004 and titanium marketing information provided by the Company’s marketing consultant.
In his NI 43-101 technical report, Mr. Henricksen confirmed a current estimate as of February 25, 2008 of rutile resources at Las Carolinas and La Cantera, two of four prospects identified thus far on the property. Under CIM classifications, his estimate was comprised of measured (7,144,000 tonnes grading 2.31% TiO2) and indicated (25,752,000 tonnes grading 2.21% TiO2) resources of 32.9 million tonnes grading 2.23% TiO2 at a cut-off grade of 1.0% TiO2 and inferred resources of 132 million tonnes grading 2.1% TiO2 at a cut-off grade of 1.0% TiO2. These resources form the geologic basis of the Assessment.
For engineering design purposes, the Assessment adopted a base case set of assumptions, the major assumptions being the construction of an open pit mine, processing plant and ancillary facilities capable of producing 100,000 tonnes per year of high grade rutile concentrate grading plus 94.5% TiO2 at start up, scaling to 130,000 tonnes per year in production Year 4 at an assumed undiluted head grade to the plant of 2.3% TiO2. Mining would commence on the Las Carolinas prospect and feed would be conveyed downhill to a processing plant located less than two kilometres to the northeast. Within the plant, the process flow sheet consisted of a semi-autogenous grinding mill, gravity pre-concentration and column flotation circuits and high intensity magnetic separation with process water sourced from a desalination plant constructed at the port of Huasco. AMEC-Cade assumed that mining would be done under contract at a cost of US$1.20 per tonne mined and that the price of high grade rutile concentrates would be US$500 per tonne FOB port.
Based on these assumptions AMEC-Cade designed a processing plant with an initial operating capacity of approximately 5.1 million tonnes per year, increasing to approximately 6.1 million tonnes per year by Year 4. They estimated a cost to construct the plant and ancillary facilities of US$117 million in direct costs and US$42 million in indirect costs, for a total of US$159 million. To this figure, and as this was a preliminary study, AMEC-Cade added a 20% contingency to arrive at a total estimated cost of US$190 million. With respect to processing plant operating costs, AMEC-Cade estimated site and transportation costs to port of US$3.60 per tonne processed (US$184 per tonne of rutile concentrate) in Year 1, dropping to US$3.50 per tonne processed (US$180 per tonne of rutile concentrate) in Year 4. The anticipated reduction in operating costs is attributed to increased volumes as well as increased efficiencies from the gravity pre-concentration circuit. Electric power consumption was the highest single cost item, comprising approximately 31% of the total estimated unit operating costs. AMEC-Cade recommended that the Company proceed to the pilot stage and investigate two possibilities for reducing capital costs: the use of sea water rather than desalinated water in the processing plant and siting the plant elsewhere on the property to lower the installed cost of the conveyor. Two alternate sites were identified.
With respect to mining, mining costs would be in addition to the processing plant operating costs estimates set out above. A preliminary mine plan will be prepared once further drilling has been completed. At present NCL have modelled preliminary optimized pits for only the Central Zone of the Las Carolinas prospect on the assumption that this could be the initial pit area. The pits were modelled using 10 x 10 x 10 metre blocks and base case pit wall angles of 45 degrees, with sensitivities run at 50 degrees. Incorporating 45 degree wall angles and in pit measured, indicated and inferred resources, the derived strip ratio was 1.13 to 1, waste to mineralized resources at a grade of approximately 2.2% TiO2. Increasing the wall angle to 50 degrees reduced the derived strip ratio to 0.96 to 1.0, waste to mineralized resources at the same grade. For clarification, under NI 43-101 policy, inferred resources must be upgraded to a measured and indicated classification before they can be included in an economic assessment. Whilst the objective of the Company’s mapping, surface sampling and drilling programs is to both increase the quantity and classification of TiO2 resources on the Cerro Blanco property, the project is at an exploration stage and there is no guarantee of future exploration success or of economic viability. For these reasons, project cash flow estimates are not included in the Assessment.
Arcadis Geotecnica conducted an environmental base line study over the Las Carolinas and La Cantera prospects. Based on field information gathered, vegetation in the area was comprised mostly of bushes, cactus and plants characteristically found in desert regions and areas of sandy and stony soils. Whilst no native animals were observed, animals potentially living in the area would include foxes, rodents, pumas, guanacos, rabbits and reptiles. The study stated that a mining operation as contemplated would have no significant impact on land vertebrates but care would need to be exercised on the northern slopes favoured by reptiles. Six underground springs were identified, several with only seasonal flow. As well six houses were observed extending from the project north towards Vallenar, three of which are occupied on a permanent basis. Conversations with the inhabitants suggested that they would have a positive view of the project due to the economic and social benefits it would bring. Arcadis Geotecnica recommended an intensive follow up survey of one ravine for possible archaeological relics and indentified two areas for the possible stockpiling of waste rock.
The Assessment concludes that results from the considerable body of work completed on the project to date support the Company’s recommended, phased work programs and that the estimated costs for the work programs are reasonable and adequate to the present stage of the project. The overall objective of the Company’s work programs is to complete an independent final feasibility study which supports the construction of a natural rutile, TiO2 mining operation on the property.
“I am delighted with the Assessment,” said Michael Kurtanjek, the Company’s President and CEO. “For the first time the Company and its shareholders have an independent valuation of the Cerro Blanco project at its present stage, including capital and operating costs. The Assessment’s conclusions re-affirm the Company’s commitment to its phased work programs and to the project.”
The technical information in this release has been reviewed by Michael P. Kurtanjek, PhD., MIMMM and a qualified person.
About White Mountain Titanium Corporation
The Company holds mining concessions on the Cerro Blanco property currently consisting of 33 registered mining exploitation concessions and five mining exploration concessions in the process of being constituted, over approximately 8,225 hectares located approximately 39 kilometres west of the City of Vallenar in the Atacama, or Region III, geographic region of northern Chile. The Company’s principal objectives are to advance the Cerro Blanco project towards a final engineering feasibility, and to secure off-take contracts for the planned rutile concentrate output. It would be the intention to sell the rutile concentrate to paint and pigment producers. Work also continues to investigate the commercial viability of producing a feldspar co-product. The feldspar could find applications in the glass and ceramics industries.
The OTC BB has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. This news release may contain forward-looking statements including but not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work programs, geological interpretations, receipt of property titles, potential mineral recovery processes, etc. Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and, therefore, involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements.
Cautionary Note to U.S. Investors — The United States Securities and Exchange Commission permits mining companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only those mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. We may use certain terms in our press releases and on our website, such as “reserves,”"resources,”"geologic resources,”"proven,”"probable,”"measured,”"indicated,” and “inferred,” that the SEC guidelines strictly prohibit us from including in our filings with the SEC. U.S. investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our annual report on Form 10K for the year ended December 31, 2007, File No. 333-129347, and in subsequent filings with the SEC. You can review and obtain copies of our filings from the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml
Contact: White Mountain Titanium Corporation Michael Kurtanjek, President (56) 2 231-5780 Brian Flower, Chairman (604) 408-2333
White Mountain Titanium Corporation
CONTACT: Michael Kurtanjek, President, +56 2 231-5780, or Brian Flower,Chairman, +1-604-408-2333, both of White Mountain Titanium Corporation