/NOT FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES OR FOR DISTRIBUTION TO U.S.
TORONTO, Feb. 2 /CNW/ - First Uranium Corporation (FIU:TSX) today
announced that the company has mobilized its project teams and is making good
progress on several fronts with underground development at its Ezulwini
project and the evaluation and selection of the optimal process flowsheet for
the recovery of uranium at its Buffelsfontein project.
"The net result of these developments is very positive for First Uranium.
We now expect, subject to the completion of a feasibility study, that at
Buffelsfontein we should be able reduce costs and with activity already
underway at Ezulwini, we have gained even more confidence in our production
plan and budget," said Gordon Miller, First Uranium's Chief Executive Officer.
As the initial stage towards a feasibility study, First Uranium has
completed an evaluation to determine an optimised uranium recovery process for
its Buffelsfontein project uranium plant. The analysis was conducted by
K'Enyuka and Metallicon, independent metallurgical and mineral processing
engineers based in Johannesburg, on a number of recovery processes. The
initial results of this study suggest the most viable flowsheet would involve
pressure leaching. The base case contained in the Buffelsfontein preliminary
assessment technical report issued in December 2006 used atmospheric leaching.
"While we expect this process change could result in an estimated 27%
reduction in the uranium plant operating costs, more importantly, it increases
the NPV of the project by 15% and reduces the uranium cash cost of production
for the Buffels project by an estimated 9%" said Mr. Miller. He added, "We are
encouraged by these results, but continue to evaluate the process plant
options. I am confident our project team will develop a flowsheet and
processing plan that delivers an optimum uranium recovery, capital and
operating cost estimate."
"The reduction in operating costs is attributable to the generation of
heat, acid and the oxidising environment in the pressure leach process,"
commented Jim Fisher, Chief Operating Officer. "This eliminates the need for
large quantities of sulphuric acid, coal and manganese, the major leach
reagents, resulting in a more environmentally friendly process."
The uranium recovery analysis, still at the preliminary assessment stage,
indicated that there was no significant change in capital required. However, a
detailed capital and operating cost estimate for the proposed process is
underway and First Uranium expects to complete a detailed feasibility level
study in April 2007.
All technical disclosure in this press release relating to the
Buffelsfontein tailings recovery project is extracted from a technical report
entitled "Technical Report - Preliminary Assessment of the Buffelsfontein
Project, Northwest Province, Republic of South Africa" (the "Technical
Report") originally submitted on November 8, 2006, revised on December 5, 2006
and further revised January 31, 2007 prepared in accordance with National
Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") by R. Dennis Bergen, P.Eng and Wayne Valliant
P.Geo of Scott Wilson Roscoe Postle Associates Inc., each of whom is a
"qualified person" under NI 43-101 and is independent of First Uranium. The
disclosure contained in this press release has been reviewed and approved by
Mr. Bergen and Mr. Valliant.
The economic analysis contained in this press release is contained in the
Technical Report and is based, in part, on inferred resources, and is
preliminary in nature. Inferred resources are considered too geologically
speculative to have mining and economic considerations applied to them and to
be categorized as Mineral Reserves. There is no certainty that the reserves
development, production and economic forecasts on which the preliminary
assessment contained in the Technical Report is based, will be realized.
First Uranium has commenced underground development at its Ezulwini
project in South Africa as the company successfully initiated its first blast
a full two months ahead of schedule.
"This first blast marks the first steps toward the refurbishment,
stabilization and de-stressing of the shaft and surrounding pillar to prepare
Ezulwini for a twenty year mine life," said Miller.
Previously known as Randfontein Four shaft, the former gold and uranium
mine produced gold continuously until it was put on care and maintenance in
2001. It was also a significant uranium producer from 1982 to 1997, until
falling metal prices led to the mine being mothballed.
"While increased metal prices and changes in technology since the mine
was closed in 2001 now make the project viable, we could not have progressed
to this stage without the support of the South African Department of Minerals
and Energy (DME)," added Miller.
"As a result of the DME approving the new water barrier between Ezulwini
and the adjacent South Deep mine, it is now possible to mine the existing
water-barrier pillars that once controlled water inflow for the South Deep
mine. This new mine permit will allow us to destress and mine the previously
unmined shaft pillar.
"Mining both gold and uranium from the same ore body will allow us to
tailor production in order to maximize our revenues from Ezulwini depending on
market fundamentals and the outlook for uranium and gold prices."
The first gold from Ezulwini is expected to be produced by October 2007,
building up to 363,000 ounces per annum by 2010. Uranium production is
expected to begin in June 2008.
This press release contains and refers to forward-looking information
based on current expectations. All statements other than statements of
historical fact included in this release including, without limitation,
statements regarding potential production rates and operating costs,
processing and development plans, estimated net present values and future
plans and objectives of First Uranium are forward-looking statements (or
forward-looking information) that involve various risks and uncertainties.
There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, such
statements are subject to significant risks and uncertainties, and actual
results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in
such statements. Important factors could cause actual results to differ
materially from First Uranium's expectations. Such factors include, among
others, the actual results of the planned feasibility study on the
Buffelsfontein project, the actual results of additional exploration and
development activities at First Uranium's projects, the timing and amount of
estimated future production, costs of production, capital expenditures, costs
and timing of the development of First Uranium's projects, availability of
capital required to place First Uranium's projects into production,
conclusions of economic evaluations, changes in project parameters as plans
continue to be refined, future prices of commodities, failure of plant,
equipment or processes to operate as anticipated, accidents, labour disputes,
delays in obtaining governmental approvals, permits or financing or in the
completion of development or construction activities, currency fluctuations,
as well as those factors discussed under "Risk Factors" in First Uranium's
final prospectus dated December 12, 2006 as filed with securities regulatory
authorities in Canada. Although First Uranium has attempted to identify
important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, there
may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or
These forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and there
can be no assurance that such forward-looking statements will prove to be
accurate as actual results and future events could differ materially from
those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place
undue reliance on forward-looking statements. First Uranium does not undertake
to update any forward-looking statements that are included herein, except in
accordance with applicable securities laws.
First Uranium Corporation (FIU:TSX) is focused on the development of
South African uranium and gold mines with the goal of becoming a significant
producer through the re-opening and development of the Ezulwini underground
mine and the construction of the Buffelsfontein tailings recovery facility.
First Uranium also plans to grow production by pursuing acquisition and joint
For further information: Gordon Miller, Chief Executive Officer or Gail
Strauss at +27 11 830 0390 or Bob Tait, VP Investor Relations at (416)
558-3858 or email@example.com