African Aura Mining Inc. - Putu iron ore project progress update

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TSX-V: AUR

AIM: AAAM

TORONTO, March 17 /CNW/ - African Aura Mining Inc. ("African Aura" or the "Company") the TSX-V (AUR) and AIM (AAAM) listed exploration to production company focused on iron ore and gold in sub-Saharan Africa provides an update on the Putu iron ore project in eastern Liberia, a joint venture between the Company and Severstal Resources.

    
    -  Presidential visit to review progress at Putu took place on 1st March
    -  60,000m resource definition drill programme planned to commence in 2Q
       2010
    -  Current resource of 1.08 billion tonnes at 37.6% Fe from 2.6km of
       project's 12km strike
    -  Terms for the 25 year exploration and mining concession (MDA) agreed
       in principal
    -  Results from airborne and ground geophysical surveys guiding drill
       plan
    -  Drill core samples dispatched for metallurgical test work, results due
       in 1H2010
    

The Putu project currently has a resource of 1.08 billion tonnes at 37.6% Fe defined from 2.6km of project's 12km strike. It is moving towards the pre-feasibility stage, with an intensive 60,000m resource expansion drilling campaign planned to commence in 2Q 2010. A pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed during 2012 with a definitive feasibility study expected 18 months thereafter.

The joint venture is targeting an unweathered magnetite itabirite resource of at least 2 billion tonnes, which would be sufficient in scale to support a project and associated infrastructure capable of producing and bringing to market 20 million tonnes per year of magnetite concentrate. While the unweathered magnetite itabarite resource remains the primary exploration target, as part of the exploration programme the joint venture will also evaluate the tonnage, grade, and metallurgical characteristics of the overlying weathered BIF resource, which could potentially be exploited in the initial years of mining operations. This would provide early access to cash flow and revenue streams.

The investment in Putu is already yielding tangible direct and indirect benefits to the local Petrokon community which has grown in population. The project presently employs 130 people on a full and part time basis, with only 7 expatriates. A first aid post has been constructed and made available to treat local emergencies. Current community projects include rehabilitation of village water wells, the reconstruction of a local school and providing street lighting to Petrokon village. The joint venture's investment in community projects will increase significantly once the MDA has been ratified by the Liberian legislature.

Luis da Silva, President and CEO of African Aura commented:

"We are delighted and honoured to have welcomed Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia to the Putu iron ore project, accompanied by a number of her ministers, including Honourable Dr Eugene H Shannon, Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy. Our team took pride in demonstrating the level of work and investment being carried out by African Aura and Severstal Resources on site. We view the Presidential delegation's visit as a considerable endorsement of the project and what the Joint Venture partners are seeking to achieve in Liberia.

"A further significant development for the project has been the agreement in principal of the key commercial and fiscal terms of the 25 year mineral development agreement with the Government of Liberia, as announced recently by the Honourable ECB Jones, Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, at the Mining Indaba conference. Once finalised and in accordance with due process, the MDA will go forward for ratification by the Executive, prior to the Legislature of Liberia.

"Finally I am also pleased to report on the excellent progress being made on the ground. Upon inception of the joint venture with Severstal in 2008, the joint venture company sought to define a 43-101 compliant resource of at least 1 billion tonnes. This objective has been met very early in the JV's life and we are now anticipating a significantly larger resource. Data from the ground and airborne geophysical surveys is currently guiding the next phase of drilling (circa 60,000m) with metallurgical test work being undertaken in parallel. Preparation of support infrastructure for this drilling programme, including construction of a new exploration camp, establishment of new access roads, and expansion of the project team with largely Liberian professionals, is also well underway. The project remains firmly on track and I look forward to updating shareholders on progress in due course."

About the Putu Iron Ore Project

The Putu iron ore project is a 12km long iron rich ridge, located only 120km inland from the deepwater shoreline of eastern Liberia. In 2009 the Company announced an Independent Mineral Resource of 1.08 billion tonnes of iron ore at 37.6% total iron (Fe) from drilling undertaken on a 2.6km section of the ridge. The best drill results to date are 91m at 61.3% Fe oxidised BIF haematite and 232m at 40.8% Fe magnetite. The deposit is being advanced in joint venture with Severstal Resources who are currently investing US$30m towards completion of a Pre-Feasibility Study in order to earn a 61.5% interest in the project.

About African Aura Mining Inc.

African Aura is an established exploration and development company listed on the TSX-V (AUR) and AIM (AAAM). The Company operates three divisions, namely iron ore, gold and diamonds:

    
    -  The iron ore division includes the 38.5% interest in the Putu iron ore
       project in Liberia which is moving through pre-feasibility managed by
       its joint venture partner Severstal Resources (the mining division of
       Moscow and London listed OAO Severstal).The division also includes a
       100% interest in the Nkout iron ore project and surrounding iron
       targets in Cameroon.

    -  The gold division includes the multi million ounce potential New
       Liberty greenstone gold deposit (current 43-101 Resource of 1.4Moz),
       which is being advanced through a bankable feasibility study, and the
       proximal Weaju, Gondoja and Silver Hills projects all in western
       Liberia.

    -  The diamond division is represented by a 32% interest in AIM listed
       diamond producer Stellar Diamonds Plc (AIM: STEL).
    

The Company has a highly motivated and experienced team with a track record of discovering mines and taking projects through development and into production. As a pioneer, African Aura has attracted some excellent strategic partners and shareholders always with the objective of preserving or enhancing shareholder value. For further information on the Company you are invited to visit its website at www.african-aura.com, or SEDAR's website at www.sedar.com, or contact one of the following:

Severstal Resources

Severstal Resources is a 4.72% shareholder in African Aura Mining Inc. through Severstal's wholly owned subsidiary, Lybica Holdings B.V. The Company signed an agreement on 22 May 2008 and subsequently completed the transaction with Severstal on the 10 December 2008. The deal also gave to Severstal a 61.5% control in Putu iron ore project provided for US$15m cash being injected into the joint venture company, which now renamed Severstal Liberia Iron Ore Ltd, as well as an additional US$15m debt facility. This US$30m will provide for the specific advancement towards a definitive feasibility study.

Severstal Resources is the mining division of international steel and mining company OAO Severstal (www.severstal.com) and one of the biggest mining companies in Russia. Severstal Resources manages all Severstal's mining assets: two iron ore mining complexes (Karelsky Okatysh and Olcon) and a coking coal complex (Vorkutaugol) in northwest Russia, one coking coal complex in USA (PBS Coals), a ferroniobium extraction complex (Stalmag) in West Russia and an exploration project, Severstal Liberia Iron Ore in West Africa. Severstal Resources also includes a number of gold mining assets in Russia, Kazakhstan and Burkina Faso as well as several gold exploration fields in these regions.

OAO Severstal is listed on the Russian Trading System, Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Incorporated in 1993, the company focuses on high value added and unique niche products and has a track record of acquiring and operating assets in North America and Europe. Severstal owns mining assets in Russia and in the US, thus securing its supplies of raw materials. Its enterprises are located in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, France, Italy, United States and Africa. In 2009, Severstal produced 16.7 million tonnes of steel.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release includes certain forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein, including without limitation, statements regarding the future plans and objectives of African Aura, are forward-looking statements that involve various known and unknown risks and uncertainties as well as other factors. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations, including delays in obtaining or failure to obtain required regulatory approvals. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof and, except as may be required by applicable law, African Aura disclaim any obligation to update or modify such forward-looking statements, either as a result of new information, future events or for any other reason.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE Afferro Mining Inc.

For further information: For further information: African Aura Mining Inc.: Luis da Silva, President & CEO, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7257 2930; Evolution Securities Limited: Simon Edwards/Chris Sim/Neil Elliot, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7071 4300; Pelham Bell Pottinger: Charles Vivian/James MacFarlane, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7337 1500

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