Fortune Minerals announces NICO Mini-Pilot Plant Results

Issued Capital: 117,076,976

Elimination of duplicate gold circuit & increased recoveries for gold & cobalt

LONDON, ON, Jan. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX-FT) ("Fortune" or "the Company") is pleased to announce positive results of a mini-pilot plant test that was conducted on ore from the Company's NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper project in the Northwest Territories ("NT") at SGS Lakefield Research Ltd. ("SGS Lakefield") in Ontario.  This latest test in 2011 further optimizes the NICO process metallurgy flow sheet by verifying that bismuth process residue can be blended with cobalt concentrate prior to acid pressure leach in the autoclave.  This eliminates one of two gold circuits at the Company's proposed Saskatchewan Metals Processing Plant ("SMPP") near Saskatoon to reduce project capital and also results in improved recoveries for both gold and cobalt from what had been previously projected.

Highlights of Mini-Pilot Plant Results:

  • Simplified process flow sheet with only one cyanide circuit for gold recovery;
  • Project capital and operating costs for gold processing are reduced;
  • Average life of mine gold recovery increases from 73% to 76%;
  • Cobalt recovery increases from 83% to 84%;
  • Pressure acid leach processing prior to gold recovery mitigates risk of recovery losses from ores containing gold-bismuth-tellurium alloys that can otherwise be refractory.

Approximately 6 tonnes of ore collected from the underground test mining program at NICO in 2006 and 2007 was processed at SGS Lakefield in a mini-pilot plant test.  This test simulated most of the NICO process flow sheet, except that after recovery of bismuth from the bismuth concentrate by oxidative hydrochloric acid leach, the bismuth leach residue was blended with the cobalt concentrate for processing in the autoclave by pressure acid leach.  The combined feed to the autoclave recovers cobalt and copper from the cobalt concentrate, and also recovers the minor amounts of cobalt and copper contained in the bismuth leach residue. The combined leach residue from the autoclave is then leached with cyanide to recover gold from both the cobalt and bismuth process streams instead of using duplicate cyanide circuits. Autoclave processing results in higher gold recoveries and has the added benefit of mitigating potential gold recovery losses from gold-bismuth-tellurium alloys that can be refractory.  The new higher recoveries for gold and cobalt are being incorporated into the Front End Engineering and Design Study for the NICO project by Jacobs Minerals Canada Inc. and other engineering companies, as well as an updated economic model.

The 2011 mini-pilot plant test was conducted under the supervision of Alex Mezei, M.Sc. P.Eng., Director of Engineering Technology Services at SGS Lakefield Metallurgical Operations and is the Qualified Person for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101.  The test was also supervised by Keith Lee, B.Sc. who is Fortune's Senior Process Engineer.

About the NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth Project:
The NICO Project is located 160 km northwest of the City of Yellowknife, NT and 50 km north of the Tlicho community of Whati.  The 31 million tonne deposit will be developed using a combination of open pit and underground mining methods with ores projected to be processed at the rate of 4,650 tonnes per day in a mill at the site over an 18-year mine life.  Other facilities that are planned at the site include a camp to accommodate employees working on a rotation basis, ancillary buildings and a 27 km all-season access road that will join the site to the proposed Tlicho Road connecting nearby communities with the highway to Yellowknife.  The mill is expected to produce approximately 180 tonnes of bulk concentrate per day for shipment south to the Company's proposed SMPP refinery near Saskatoon for further processing to high value metal products.  Fortune plans to be a significant, reliable North American-based supplier of high purity cobalt cathode and/or sulphate and bismuth ingot, together with gold doré and by-product copper and nickel precipitates.

About Fortune Minerals:
Fortune is a diversified resource company with several mineral deposits and a number of exploration projects, all located in Canada.  The Company is focused on the development of the Mount Klappan anthracite metallurgical coal deposits in BC and the NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper deposit in the Northwest Territories ("NT").  As part of the development of the NICO deposit, Fortune is developing a hydrometallurgical plant in Saskatchewan to process NICO concentrates to high value metal products. The Company has also acquired the buildings and equipment from the Golden Giant Mine at Hemlo, Ontario, which have been dismantled, moved, and stored for relocation to NICO.  In addition, the Company owns the Sue-Dianne copper-silver-gold deposit and other exploration projects in the NT.  Fortune is focused 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 statements with respect to, among other things, the proposed development of the NICO project, the proposed production therefrom and the proposed development of the Saskatchewan Metals Processing Plant ("SMPP"). 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, the inherent volatility of metal prices, the risk that the Company may not be able to arrange the necessary financing to construct and operate the NICO mine and the SMPP, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of required permits for the development of the NICO project and the SMPP, the possibility of delays in the commencement of production from the NICO project and construction of the SMPP, the risk that production and recovery of metals from the NICO project may be less than anticipated and other factors. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on forward-looking information because it is possible that predictions, forecasts, projections and other forms of forward-looking information will not be achieved by the Company.  The forward-looking information contained herein is made as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise it to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.

SOURCE Fortune Minerals Limited

For further information:

Fortune Minerals Limited     Renmark Financial Communications
Robin Goad, President, or
Troy Nazarewicz Investor Relations Manager
Tel.: (519) 858-8188
Fax: (519) 858-8155
    Barbara Komorowski:, or
Bettina Filippone:
Montreal Tel: (514) 939-3989, Toronto Tel. (416) 644-2020
Montreal Fax: (514) 939-3717, Toronto Fax. (416) 644-2021


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