TSX Venture Exchange: FRI
Shares Issued: 13,266,232
VANCOUVER, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - FREEPORT RE
SOURCES INC. (TSX-V: FRI) is
pleased to provide an update on the status of its Hutton project, including
its Request For Proposals (RFP) which closed this past spring. The Hutton
consists of several high-grade alluvial garnet deposits located on tidewater
in northern Labrador now moving towards the development stage. Current work is
focused on export market development, site logistics and environmental
planning, as summarized below.
1. EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT
Request for Proposals
The Hutton Request for Proposals (RFP) garnered much interest from
North America, Europe and SE Asia. It was an open-ended proposal call to
evaluate the Hutton Garnet Beaches as a potential development opportunity,
closing January 17, 2007.
Freeport was prepared to evaluate "a range of options, including
proposals with a limited role for the RFP Proponent (i.e. marketing, sales or
distribution); a significant role in project development and operation (i.e.
option, joint venture, contractor etc.), outright sale of a portion of all of
the project (with or without a residual royalty to Freeport), or any
combination of the foregoing".
Proponents could respond to "permitting (mining lease and other required
permits), site work (garnet extraction, and on-site processing if applicable),
shipping/transportation of bulk or upgraded material to a processing site, and
mineral processing, as well as marketing and distribution of the Hutton garnet
product on the world market".
The RFP states, "Freeport Resources Inc. wishes to see the Hutton project
developed in a way that maximizes the value to its shareholders, respects the
interests of the Labrador Inuit, and minimizes its environmental footprint. It
is important to understand the seasonal nature of this project." It may be
viewed at sedar.com as a public company document of Freeport Resources.
To date, Freeport has been in discussions with many of the major players
in the garnet industry, from suppliers to distributors, and from service
providers to garnet consumers. Several groups visited the site last summer,
testing bulk sample material provided as part of the RFP process. Freeport is
currently involved with a number of parties interested in advancement of the
project as a whole, while others are focused on specific aspects such as
transportation, processing, marketing and distribution. Further details will
be released at a later date.
Waterjet grade garnet is in high demand. Many suppliers have advised that
they cannot keep enough material in stock to meet this demand, and have
expressed interest in a new North American product, especially a high-quality
product such as the Hutton garnet.
Waterjet Concentrates & Testing
As part of the ongoing Export Market Development (EMD) Plan,
commercial-quality waterjet concentrates were prepared from Hutton garnet.
Different separation techniques were used at a number of independent
commercial laboratories. The concentrates have been tested by groups in the
US, Europe and Canada.
One US waterjet manufacturer which recently conducted an industry-wide
study of commercially available waterjet products advised that Freeport should
be confident in the Hutton product, which performed "really well". Another
major North American supplier/distributor testing its own products and Hutton
garnet advised that it performed equal or better to a hard-rock product
imported from China. As all waterjet tests to date have met with strongly
positive responses, Freeport believes that the Hutton garnet will command a
respectable place in the market once it becomes commercially available.
Our next step is to test the Hutton garnet at a pilot plant level in
order to prepare larger amounts of product for broader market testing.
Processing methods are straightforward with limited equipment required and
therefore minimal capital costs. This work is just commencing and will make
use of bulk sample material previously collected from both the South and North
Freeport is conducting in-depth transportation analysis as part of the
export market development plan, in order to evaluate possible locations for a
pilot plant. Several under consideration have already been visited. The
location will be finalized once container vs. bulk shipping rates to and from
various locations in North America and Europe are better understood.
2. SITE LOGISTICS
C-Core, the Centre for Cold Ocean Research, part of the Memorial
University of NL (MUN) in St. John's, recently completed an independent review
of various ways to extract garnet. This work is moving to a second, more
detailed stage, to determine what approaches will be most effective and also
most environmentally friendly.
At this time, the Hutton project is generally being considered as a tug
and barge operation. It is possible that long-term alternatives may be
developed, such as backhaul arrangements with arctic supply vessels returning
empty to major ports in eastern Canada. These ideas require a better
understanding of loading time and logistics.
Methods under consideration include pumping sand from shore to a barge or
ship offshore, or possibly a tandem barge arrangement where a smaller barge
could be beached and used as a portable dock, thereby limiting need for
infrastructure on site. In this option, small earth-moving equipment could be
used to move bagged or bulk material across the landing barge to a larger
vessel in deeper water. Spud barges could also be considered.
Freeport plans continued work with C-Core on logistics-related issues,
such as upcoming tests of pumps on Hutton garnet sand. Tests will be planned
to simulate site conditions, to be followed up in summer 2008 once the loading
strategy is more fully resolved. Over 100 tonnes of Hutton sand is currently
available for logistics planning as well as for pilot plant tests.
Further work will include cost analysis for on-site and off-site
processing alternatives, including uses for by-products such as quartz sand,
magnetite and ilmenite. Site contouring and reclamation will also be
considered in conjunction with production and processing strategies.
Site Documentation & Monitoring
Freeport has commenced a compilation of site documentation which will be
used as a basis for long-term monitoring. The site may also be visited at key
times in different seasons, such as prior to winter freeze-up, to study
year-round conditions. Several beach formation and environmental consultants
are involved in this work.
A photographic record of site conditions over the past 10 years will be
used to study any possible changes. Several observation points have been
established to photograph the sites on an annual and ongoing basis. High
resolution imagery, both air and satellite photos, will also be used to assist
in mapping the beaches and shoreline, and to study any changes over time.
As part of site documentation, the 1999 Legal Survey was repeated last
summer. The South and North Beaches were accurately mapped in 3 dimensions,
with a high degree of precision in plan as well as in elevation. The two sets
of topographic data will be analyzed and compared to evaluate any natural
changes over the 7 year period between the surveys.
The 2006 topographic survey was conducted as part of an archeological
study which is nearing completion. It accurately pinpointed sites such as tent
rings on rocky headlands approximately 6m (20 ft) above the beaches. This work
was important as publicly available maps of northern Labrador are largely
based on air photos and do not reflect actual site conditions.
Last summer, detailed underwater surveys were carried out by divers in
the vicinity of the South Beach, confirming that the ocean floor is
predominantly flat and sandy for kilometres. Sampling of the sea bottom
confirmed elevated garnet content as seen in previous results, proving that
the offshore sediments are the source of the heavy minerals composing the
Hutton garnet beaches.
Over the past 2 years, the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) has
conducted offshore mapping in northern Labrador. This work will greatly assist
in improving site access for large-scale commercial vessels, thereby expanding
the range of companies able to provide marine services. Information from CHS,
including side-scan sonar data, will be analyzed once available to plan how
marine vessels could best approach the beaches. The data may also be very
helpful in understanding of beach formation processes.
In closing, Freeport is now assembling a technical team to assist with a)
North American and European marketing; b) mineral processing and product
development; c) pilot plant design; d) transportation analysis; e) site
logistics, and; f) environmental and site monitoring. This work will form the
foundation for a full-scale Feasibility Study. Zdenek Hora, P.Geo., is the
Qualified Person who has reviewed this release.
Freeport Resources, founded in 1981, is a junior mineral exploration
company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. Freeport has landholdings in
Labrador and B.C., with a special focus on industrial minerals, precious and
base metals, and gemstones.
THE TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE HAS NOT REVIEWED AND DOES NOT ACCEPT
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THE CONTENT OF THIS NEWS
For further information:
For further information: Freeport Resources Inc., Brenda Clark, MAIBC,
President & CEO, 1-888-275-7335 (toll free), (604) 275-7335 (tel.),