Fortune Minerals increases planned production rate for the NICO Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper deposit, NWT



    
    16% increase in production rate achieved by reconfiguring Hemlo mills

    Issued Capital: 55,550,107
    

    LONDON, ON, Jan. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX-FT)
("Fortune Minerals" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the results of
recently completed studies for the configuration of four grinding mills it
acquired as part of the Golden Giant Mine process plant purchased earlier from
Newmont Canada Limited (see Fortune news release dated August 31, 2006).
Grinding plant simulation and optimization studies were conducted by Metso
Minerals Inc. and Starkey & Associates as part of the Front End Engineering
Design (FEED) work being done by Aker Metals, a division of Aker Solutions
Canada Inc. (Aker Solutions) for Fortune's 100% owned NICO
Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper deposit in the Northwest Territories. Notably,
these studies determined that minor modifications to one of the mills
re-configured as a rod mill, followed by three secondary ball mills in
parallel closed circuit, would provide for an increase in grinding capacity
from 185 to 215 tonnes per hour. This produces a 16% increase in the nominal
daily grinding capacity for the NICO process plant from 4000 to approximately
4650 tonnes per day (at 90% availability) for essentially the same operating
cost.
    The increase in grinding rate indicated by the Metso/Starkey/Aker
Solutions studies can be accommodated with no significant changes to the
mining fleet, primary crusher or flotation circuits already specified for the
NICO mine and process plant. Only an incremental increase in the downstream
hydrometallurgical process equipment would be required to achieve the
increased production rate for the entire mine's process plant. Fortune
Minerals is pleased to announce that it now plans to increase the nominal
production rate for the NICO plant from 4000 to 4650 tonnes per day and this
is expected to reduce the operating cost per tonne of ore processed.
    The $5 million pilot plant test for NICO ores being conducted at SGS
Lakefield Research Limited (Lakefield) is now substantially complete. Results
of the crushing, grinding and flotation components have already been announced
and exceeded expectations (see Fortune Minerals news release dated February 6,
2008). The downstream hydrometallurgical processing of NICO ores to high
quality cobalt and bismuth cathode and gold doré has now also been confirmed.
Detailed results of the hydrometallurgical part of the pilot plant will be
announced upon receipt of the final reports from Lakefield. The Aker Solutions
FEED Study is also progressing well and is expected to be completed in March,
2009.
    Work has been advancing with the dismantling and salvage of equipment
from Fortune Minerals' Golden Giant Mine process plant at Hemlo, Ontario. More
than 50 people are currently working at the site for the Company and its
primary contractor. The crushing plant and conveyor galleries have now been
dismantled for relocation and re-assembly at NICO in virtually the same
configuration as the Hemlo plant. The administration building has been
demolished. Tailings pipe has been recovered and prepared for transport to
NICO. Crews are now working in the mill building salvaging the grinding mills,
flotation cells, transformers, and other mechanical, electrical and structural
equipment for reconditioning or transport to NICO. Fortune Minerals is
processing materials containing precious metals that were recovered from the
Golden Giant Mine process equipment and the Company has been selling copper,
steel, aluminium and other metals to scrap dealers in Canada and the United
States. Fortune Minerals has also sold surplus equipment from the site and is
in discussions with several companies interested in purchasing large sections
of the Golden Giant Mine process plant that are not needed at NICO. The
Company is pleased to report that 50% of the scope of work for the dismantling
of the Golden Giant Mine process plant has now been completed.
    Fortune Minerals recently completed two rounds of community consultation
for the proposed NICO mine, in Yellowknife, as well as the nearby Tlicho
communities of Behchoko, Whati and Gameti. These meetings with local
communities and stakeholders resulted in many expressions of support for the
mine. The Tlicho Government has also hired a consultant to advise them on
matters related to the proposed project. Fortune Minerals is working with this
consultant to ensure that local stakeholders are kept informed about the
project for an integrated mine, business and community planning process for
mutual benefit. Fortune Minerals has already submitted its "Land Use" and
"Class A Water License" applications to the Wek' èezhii Land and Water Board
to permit the mine.
    NICO is located in the southern part of the Northwest Territories, 160 km
northwest of the City of Yellowknife, 80 and 50 km northeast of Tlicho
communities of Behchoko and Whati, respectively, and 22 km west of the Snare
hydro complex. NICO has already been assessed in a positive definitive
feasibility study by Micon International Limited (Micon) in 2007 and an
economic update by Micon in 2008 (see Fortune Minerals news release dated May
8, 2008). NICO contains total Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves of 21.8
million tonnes, containing 760,000 ounces of gold, 61 million pounds of cobalt
and 77 million pounds of bismuth. The underground portion of the Proven and
Probable Mineral Reserves are 1,204,000 tonnes, grading 5.07 g/t gold, 0.14%
cobalt and 0.19% bismuth and the open pit portion of the Proven and Probable
Mineral Reserves are 20,613,000 tonnes, grading 0.85 g/t gold, 0.13% cobalt
and 0.16% bismuth. Copper is produced as a by-product of the NICO ore
processing, but was not included in the Mineral Reserve estimate. The NICO
Mineral Reserves are contained within a larger Mineral Resource. In
consideration of the anticipated lower operating costs as a result of the
increased plant throughput stated above, the increased metal recoveries
indicated by the pilot plant, and other operational improvements, Fortune
plans to re-estimate the NICO Mineral Reserves and also include copper. Mr. B.
Terrence Hennessey, P.Geo. of Micon and Mr. Eugene Puritch, P.Eng. of P&E
Mining Consultants Inc. are the qualified persons responsible for the Mineral
Reserve and Mineral Resource estimates in accordance with National Instrument
43-101. Further information regarding the NICO mineral reserves and economic
studies can be found in the Company's AIF and other documents filed on the
SEDAR website (www.sedar.com).

    About Fortune Minerals

    Fortune Minerals is a diversified natural resource company with several
mineral deposits and a number of exploration projects, all located in Canada.
They include the Mount Klappan anthracite coal deposits in British Columbia,
and the NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth deposit, the Sue-Dianne copper-silver deposit
and other base and precious metals exploration projects in the Northwest
Territories. Fortune Minerals is focussed on outstanding performance and
growth of shareholder value through assembly and development of high quality
mineral resource projects.

    This press release contains forward-looking information. This
forward-looking information includes, or may be based upon, estimates,
forecasts, and statements as to management's expectations with respect to,
among other things, the size and quality of the Company's mineral resources,
progress in development of mineral properties, demand and market outlook for
metals and coal and future metal and coal prices. Forward-looking information
is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the
information is given, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties
and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ
materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. These
factors include the inherent risks involved in the exploration and development
of mineral properties, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of
required permits and regulatory approvals, the uncertainties involved in
interpreting drilling results and other geological data, fluctuating metal and
coal prices, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs
and expenses, uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of
financing needed in the future and other factors. Mineral resources that are
not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Inferred
mineral resources are considered too speculative geologically to have economic
considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as
mineral reserves. There is no certainty that mineral resources will be
converted into mineral reserves. The forward-looking information contained
herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no
responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or
circumstances, except as required by law.





For further information:

For further information: Fortune Minerals Limited, Robin Goad, President
- or - Lindsay Simmons, IR Coordinator, Tel.: (519) 858-8188, Fax: (519)
858-8155, info@fortuneminerals.com, www.fortuneminerals.com; Renmark Financial
Communications, Dan Symons, Account Manager - or - Rea Unson, Junior Account
Manager, Tel. (514) 939-3989, Fax. (514) 939-3717,
dsymons@renmarkfinancial.com or runson@renmarkfinancial.com,
www.renmarkfinancial.com


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