VANCOUVER, May 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Curis Resources Ltd. (TSX: CUV) ("Curis" or the "Company") is pleased to provide an update on the Company's key project milestones and progress towards development of its flagship Florence Copper project in central Arizona.
"We have become aware of misinformation circulating in the public domain relating to the permitting and development of Florence Copper. This misinformation is leading to confusion about the Company's plans to advance its in-situ copper recovery (ISCR) project in Florence" commented Michael McPhie, President and CEO of Curis. "The development of Florence Copper remains on track. With the closing of a $40 million non-dilutive financing agreement with Red Kite, our focus is now on completing necessary project permitting and preparing for the start of construction for the first phase of project operations."
"We have developed a strong working relationship with all of the regulatory agencies responsible for reviewing Curis' amended permit applications," said Dan Johnson, Curis' Vice President of Environment and Technical Services. "We have appreciated the professional approach and consideration shown for Florence Copper by both the State of Arizona and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and look forward to completing the next phase of project permitting in the weeks and months ahead."
BACKGROUND AND KEY PERMIT DEVELOPMENTS
In 1997, previous Florence Copper project owner BHP Copper received all major operating permits necessary for commercial production of copper by ISCR methods. Since acquiring Florence Copper in late 2009, Curis has been working to amend and update these permits. A majority of the key operating permits for the project are in place today, including permits relating to air, water use and waste. Curis' focus is now on amending the remaining operating permits. No formal environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project is required. Curis' 1,364-acre land holding at Florence Copper is either private patented lands or state mineral leases.
Arizona State Land Department - State Land
Curis holds title to a Mineral Lease with the Arizona State Land Department ("ASLD") for 160 acres of State Trust land within the Curis property boundary. This 160-acre parcel contains the following portion of the estimated mineral resources1:
| Mineral Resources on State Land
All Oxide in Bedrock
|Classification||Million tons||Grade||Million lbs_Cu|
In a letter to the Town of Florence dated December 19, 2011, State Land Commissioner Maria Baier confirmed that Florence Copper "has the potential to generate more revenue than any project that the ASLD has been involved with during its almost one hundred years of existence."
1 Within overall resource of 429 million tonnes of Measured and Indicated resources grading 0.331% total copper at a 0.05% total copper cut off, for further details see Curis news release dated November 25, 2010.
Curis intends to proceed with Phase 1 development of Florence Copper on State Trust land beginning in 2012, subject to the completion of project permitting as discussed below. Curis is also in the process of defining a detailed Phase 2 development plan for State Trust land, which would allow the project to advance to commercial scale operations.
"There is a substantial copper resource on the 160-acre State Trust land area that is sufficient to support a commercial scale operation" said David Copeland, P. Eng., Director of Project Development for Hunter Dickinson Inc. ("HDI") and Director of Curis. "The advancement of the Phase 1 Production Test Facility in the near-term will allow us to optimize key engineering aspects of the project, including enhancing copper recoveries, and will set the stage for the advancement of the project to full-scale commercial operations."
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality - Aquifer Protection Permit
Curis is well advanced in discussions with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality ("ADEQ") and expects to receive a Phase 1 operating permit for the Florence Copper project in the coming weeks. Curis will also advance, in parallel with Phase 1 operations, the completion of the amended Phase 2 commercial operating permit. Curis anticipates having the Phase 2 approvals in place well in advance of the start of commercial development in late 2013.
i. Phase 1 Production Test Facility ("PTF") Permit
On March 1, 2012, Curis submitted an application to the ADEQ for an APP for its Phase 1 production test. Meetings with ADEQ officials indicate this application presents the best approach for facilitating the Phase 1 permit for the PTF, while simultaneously advancing full-scale commercial operating permits. Curis received comments back on this application in a letter from ADEQ on May 2, 2012. Curis is in the process of addressing all of the items listed in the ADEQ's May 2 letter and is intending to file a response with ADEQ shortly. Public consultation on the Phase 1 permit will then follow and the Phase 1 permit will be eligible for issuance shortly after.
Once received, this APP will allow for the development of the Phase 1 PTF consisting of a 24 well injection and recovery system and a state of the art Solvent Extraction/Electrowinning ("SX/EW") facility. The Phase 1 PTF is expected to last approximately 18 months.
ii. Phase 2 Commercial Scale Operating Permit
In parallel with the Phase 1 development and operations program, Curis will continue work with ADEQ to secure a commercial-scale APP for Phase 2 operations at Florence Copper. ADEQ's questions in response to Curis' application for a commercial-scale APP, as submitted in late January 2011, were received in October 2011. Curis is pleased with its progress in resolving these questions, which represent standard practice during the APP permitting process.
Environmental Protection Agency - Underground Injection Control Permit
Curis submitted an application to the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") to amend and update its existing Underground Injection Control ("UIC") permit for Florence Copper on March 25, 2011. At that time, the Company was advised by federal agency officials that review of its application would take 12 to 15 months to complete. Curis continues to work towards completion of the UIC permit in a timely manner.
On January 30, 2012, the Company received a review letter from the EPA, detailing all of the federal agency's comments and questions relating to Florence Copper. Company officials, with support from a highly skilled consulting team, have provided answers to all of these questions and are in regular communication with EPA officials with the goal of completing the amendment process in the near term. As with the ADEQ review, this is standard procedure.
"What we're experiencing is the normal back and forth of an agency review of operating permits," confirmed Dan Johnson. "We appreciate the constructive feedback provided by both EPA and ADEQ and look forward to completing the required permitting for Florence Copper in the near term."
Arizona Department of Water Resources- Water Rights
Curis currently holds water rights and groundwater rights relating to its Florence Copper property, which allow the Company to utilize groundwater for ISCR. These rights, administered by the Arizona Department of Water Resources ("ADWR") are fully owned by Curis, and are sufficient to support commercial-scale ISCR operations.
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT TIMELINE
Based on current projections for the completion of the two primary operating permits discussed above, Curis anticipates beginning construction of the Phase 1 ISCR well field and SX/EW plant in Q3 2012. Initial copper cathode production is slated for early 2013.
David Copeland, P.Eng, Hunter Dickinson Inc., who is a Qualified Person has reviewed this disclosure.
Curis Resources Ltd. is a mineral development company associated with Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified global mining company with a 25-year history of mineral development success. Curis is focused on the acquisition, development and operation of high-quality next-generation copper properties in progressive jurisdictions around the world. It is currently focused on advancing its 100% owned Florence Copper project in Arizona USA to production.
For more information about Florence Copper and its projected economic impacts and benefits to the local community, please visit www.florencecopper.com.
For more project-level information, sign up to receive News and Updates from the Florence Copper project.
For further details on the Company, please visit www.curisresources.com or contact Susie Bell, Manager of Investor Relations, at (604) 684-6365 or within North America at 1-800-667-2114.
President & CEO
No regulatory authority has approved or disapproved of the information contained in this news release.
This release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements". All statements in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that address exploration drilling, exploitation activities and events or developments that the Company expects are forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include fluctuations in market prices, exploitation and exploration successes, continuity of mineralization, uncertainties related to the ability to obtain necessary environmental, land use and other permits, approvals, licenses and title on a timely basis and delays due to third party opposition, changes in government policies regarding mining and natural resource exploration and exploitation, continued availability of capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions. Investors are cautioned that any such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. For more information on the Company, a more detailed description of the assumptions used to develop the forward-looking statements and the risk factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking statements, investors should review the Company's continuous disclosure filings that are available at www.sedar.com.
Information Concerning Estimates of Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resources
This news release uses the terms "measured resources", "indicated resources" and "inferred resources". The Company advises investors that although these terms are recognized and required by Canadian regulations (under National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does not recognize them. Investors are cautioned not to assume that any part or all of the mineral deposits in these categories will ever be converted into reserves. In addition, "inferred resources" have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence, and economic and legal feasibility. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of an Inferred Mineral Resource will ever be upgraded to a higher category. Under Canadian rules, estimates of Inferred Mineral Resources may not form the basis of feasibility or pre-feasibility studies, or economic studies except for Preliminary Assessment as defined under 43-101. Investors are cautioned not to assume that part or all of an inferred resource exists, or is economically or legally mineable
For further information:
Sean Magee, EVP, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs, Hunter Dickinson Inc.