Environmental License awarded for Mirabela - Board Approves Commencement of Construction


    Ordinary shares outstanding: 126,871,100

    PERTH, AUSTRALIA, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Mirabela Nickel Limited (TSX: MNB,
ASX: MBN) is pleased to announce the approval of its Environmental Management
Plan and subsequent granting of an Installation License for construction of
the Santa Rita nickel sulphide concentrator. As a result, the Board of
Mirabela has approved the immediate commencement of construction of the Santa
Rita project. An Environmental Impact Assessment study that included a
detailed community consultation and hearings process was approved last
    The Company will now establish an operating presence on site, including
the installation of Company and contractor site offices and basic amenities
such as water and power as well as an upgrade of site roads. This work is
expected to take about one to two months whereupon work will commence on the
plant foundations and pre-stripping of the open cut mine. Construction of a
bridge over the Rio de Contas river, to improve site access, can now start
immediately and is expected to be completed by Q3 next year.
    "With the Installation License now granted, the Company is very pleased
to commence construction of the Santa Rita project immediately, which puts the
project on track for a mid 2009 commissioning." commented Nick Poll, Managing
Director. "Approval for the project reflects strong encouragement received
from the community and the state. CBPM, a state owned company mandated to
encourage mining investment in Bahia and royalty holder in the Santa Rita
project, also assisted with the approval process."
    The Mirabela team is well positioned to begin full construction. Raphael
Bloise has been appointed Project Director for the construction of Santa Rita.
He is well regarded, having managed the construction and commissioning of CVRD
projects over 30 years, including Sossego - a 13mpta copper sulphide project
in Brazil that was commissioned in 2003. Narayan Krishnan is Director of
Metallurgy and brings invaluable nickel experience to the team, particularly
from his involvement in commissioning the Mt Keith disseminated nickel
sulphide project in Western Australia with a throughput rate of 11.5mtpa.
    GRD Minproc Ltd has completed basic engineering for the plant and has
been engaged to provide consulting services in relation to the engineering,
procurement, construction and commissioning for the Santa Rita nickel project.
GRD Minproc also completed detailed engineering on the grinding circuit and
primary crusher late last year, which enabled these items to be ordered for a
Q4 2008 delivery. These are the two most important long lead-time items.
    Two Brazilian engineering firms have also been appointed. ECM will be
responsible for project scheduling, detailed engineering and procurement,
whilst Construtora Barbosa Mello (CBM) will be responsible for construction of
the plant and local infrastructure. Both ECM and CBM participated in the
construction of Sossego under the management of Mr Bloise. CBM will also
provide a mining fleet to commence pre-stripping before the end of the year.
It is intended to use contract miners until delivery of a mining fleet,
expected late next year.
    Detailed engineering for a power line to access the state power grid has
been completed and the Company is currently finalizing permitting details and
commercial arrangements. Tenders are currently out for plant and mining
equipment, whilst detailed mine design/scheduling and installation of site
communications is underway.
    Three additional follow-up licenses for mining, clearing of vegetation
and water are expected to be granted within the next few months. They are not
expected to interfere with the construction schedule. The formal Mining
License (or Concession) can only be obtained after the Installation License is
granted and a positive economic study of the project has been accepted. Both
the Installation License and the economic study have now been submitted.
Obtaining the Mining License is understood to be a relatively straight forward
follow-on from the Installation License. Pre-stripping can commence once the
Mining License is granted.
    A license to clear vegetation is contingent upon the Company creating an
environmental reserve on a minimum of 20% of the total area of the farms that
it has acquired. The area under acquisition is considered more than adequate
for this requirement. A reserve has now been created and an application
submitted. This license will be required to enable site clearing for the
concentrator foundations. An environmental study to draw water from the Rio de
Contas is positive and has been submitted to the state environmental
authorities for approval.
    "The next 6 months will be an exciting time for Mirabela," said Mr Poll.
"On the resource side, recent drilling results look set to provide more tonnes
with a resource upgrade due late October and a mining reserve estimate is
expected the following month. On the commercial side, negotiations for bank
financing and an off-take agreement are progressing well and are expected to
be finalized over the next 6 months."

    Mirabela is a mineral exploration company incorporated under the laws of
Australia and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Australian
Securities Exchange. Mirabela has a portfolio of prospective nickel and other
base metal projects in Brazil. Additional information relating to Mirabela is
available on the Company's website at: www.mirabela.com.au.

For further information:

For further information: Stephen Hills, CFO, Telephone: +61 8 9324 1177,
Facsimile: +61 8 9324 2171, Email: info@mirabela.com.au

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Mirabela Nickel Ltd.

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