TSX: MNB, ASX: MBN
Ordinary shares outstanding: 127,776,100
PERTH, Australia, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - Mirabela Nickel Limited (TSX: MNB,
ASX: MBN) is pleased to announce that it has achieved another major milestone
in developing its world-class nickel sulphide nickel project in Brazil with
the follow-up licenses for the Santa Rita project now obtained. As previously
announced, the Company was granted the principal development approval (the
Installation License which incorporates environmental approval) in October
last year. The follow-up licenses subsequently obtained include:
- Mining Concession
- Deforestation Authorization
- Water Authorization
In addition, the acquisition of all the necessary surface land rights has
"Construction of the Santa Rita project commenced last November on site
infrastructure, but with the follow-up approvals now out of the way we can
move to full construction on all fronts to maintain the project on schedule,"
said Managing Director Nick Poll. "We have worked hard to explain our
intentions and the project's impact to the local communities. The resulting
community support and the need for economic development in the state of Bahia
have been strong drivers behind state and federal government support for the
project," he said.
The Company expects to employ about 1500 people directly and indirectly
from the populations of Itagiba (17,000 people) and Ipiau (43,000 people) both
within 6kms of the project. "We are finding great people who live within 15
minutes drive of the project that have a good level of education and plenty of
local knowledge," said Mr Poll. "The local people will always be an important
asset for our project. We are pleased to be developing the local workforce and
to be contributing to nearby communities," he said.
Construction commenced on the project in November 2007 with basic
infrastructure such as a bridge, all-weather access roads and site offices.
Much of the essential infrastructure was already in place, such as a state
highway and an asphalt airstrip within 4km of the project and hydro-electric
power within 6km. "In terms of pre-developed local infrastructure, it doesn't
get much better," said Mr Poll.
Pre-stripping of the mine in both the Northern and Southern zones has
been underway since January, as most of the project area is open farm land.
"We have made great progress over the last four months and have not had
any problems obtaining heavy machinery for the site works and mine pre-strip,"
said Mr Poll. "Brazil has a large industrial base that allows great
flexibility for acquiring equipment, because we are not competing so closely
with the rest of the mining industry. For example, the trucking fleet was
previously deployed on constructing a hydro-electric power dam. As a result,
Brazil's mining industry is well positioned for growth when it comes to the
competitive world of building and operating mining projects," he said.
Mirabela has deployed an experienced team of Brazilian project engineers
led by Raphael Bloise, who previously managed construction of the Sossego
project - a 13mtpa copper sulphide project in Brazil. This team is
supplemented with extensive nickel processing knowledge from a team
originating from Perth and including Narayan Krishnan, who was involved in the
commissioning of Mt Keith, and John Knoblauch, who was involved in the
commissioning of Sally Malay.
Next major milestones for the Company will be the completion of debt and
off-take agreements, expected within four months. Delivery of long lead time
items, including a gyrational primary crusher, sag mill and ball mill is
expected in Q4 this year.
Mirabela recently announced a Proven and Probable mining reserve of 84mt
grading 0.61% Ni for its open-cut pit and a throughput upgrade from 4.0 to
4.6mtpa to produce 18,500tpa of nickel in concentrate. Drilling results from
immediately below the open-cut mining reserve include intersections up to 135m
grading 0.83% nickel. These intersections are expected to increase open-cut
mining reserves, with the next resource estimate expected in about 4 months.
Mirabela Nickel is listed on the Australian and Toronto stock exchanges.
With an open-cut mining reserve of 84mt grading 0.61% Ni, Santa Rita is the
largest greenfields nickel sulphide discovery in the last 12 years and the
third largest open-cut nickel sulphide mining reserve worldwide.
Construction of a nickel sulphide concentrator commenced in November 2007
and is progressing well. The plant is expected to produce 18,500t a year of
nickel in a sulphide concentrate from one open-cut mine starting from mid
2009. At this rate of production the project is expected to have a mine life
of at least 18 years. Studies are underway to increase plant capacity to
25,000t a year within the first year of production.
Caution Regarding Forward Looking Statements: There can be no assurance
that an expanded mineral resource or reserve will be established at the Santa
Rita Project. The forward-looking statements made in this news release are
based on assumptions and judgments of management regarding future events and
results. Such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to those
with respect to the construction and development of a 18,500 tonnes per year
and subsequently a 25,000 tonnes per year nickel sulphide concentrator and a
nickel smelter at the Santa Rita Project and the required capital expenditures
and estimated future production and operating cash costs involve known and
unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual
results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different
from any anticipated future results, performance or achievements expressed or
implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among
others, the actual market prices of nickel, the actual results of current
exploration, the actual results of future mining, processing and development
activities, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be evaluated,
as well as those other factors disclosed in the Company's filed documents.
For further information:
For further information: Australia contact: Craig Burton, Corporate
Director, Telephone: +61 8 9324 1177, firstname.lastname@example.org; Toronto contact
(media): Eric Tang, Porter Novelli, Telephone: (416) 422-7200,
email@example.com; Australia contact (media): Caroline de Mori,
Purple Communications, Telephone: +61 8 9485 1254, firstname.lastname@example.org