TORONTO and JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 10 /CNW/ - First Uranium Corporation
(TSX:FIU, JSE:FUM) (ISIN:CA33744R1029) ("First Uranium" or "the Corporation")
today announced that it is making significant progress to advance both of the
Corporation's uranium and gold projects.
- Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the shaft at the Ezulwini Mine
("Ezulwini"), has been completed and has begun to hoist ore
- the Ezulwini gold plant is on schedule to be commissioned in April
2008, and the uranium plant in June 2008
- First Uranium's Board of Directors has approved a US$11.7 million
capital program to install the first reclamation station at the
Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project (the "Project") and increase
the mining rate to 630,000 tonnes per month
- the Corporation will proceed directly to a full feasibility report
for the Project by November, by-passing a pre-feasibility report
- the Project is ahead of schedule to complete the flow of tailings
from the Buffelsfontein Mine to the plant at Mine Waste Solutions
("MWS") in November
- First Uranium holds its funds in cash and guaranteed investment
certificates and has no exposure to asset-backed commercial paper
The Ezulwini Mine is an underground mine that has two separate tabular
ore bodies approximately 400 metres apart. The Upper Elsburg is gold bearing
only, while the Middle Elsburg is a gold and uranium deposit.
The Mine produced gold from its opening in the 1960s until 2001, and
uranium between 1982 and 1997. In 2001, commodity prices declined to the point
where the mine wasn't economical. At that point it was placed on care and
maintenance. The project was acquired in 2006 and the Corporation began
underground development in February this year, ahead of schedule.
One of the key milestsones previously planned for October 2007 was to
establish a new, low maintenance, rock hoisting system. The Corporation is
pleased to announce that the 250,000-tonne per month double drum Koepe winder
has been successfully re-commissioned and hoisting of low-grade gold bearing
development rock, through the newly installed hanging tower, has commenced
ahead of schedule. The underground transfer belts for the Upper Elsburg gold
section are expected be commissioned next week, which will result in the mine
having re-established more than sufficient hoisting capacity to meet its
further production requirements.
The first priority to re-opening the mine and establishing a safe and low
maintenance shaft has been the rehabilitation of the main shaft through an
overlying lava layer, called the Western Area Formation ("WAF"). Phase 1 of
the shaft rehabilitation work-comprised of the planned rock consolidation,
reinforcing and long-anchor support of the WAF where it occurs within the
Ezulwini shaft barrel-has been successfully completed.
The six meter wide zone of weaker rock within the WAF, which has required
constant maintenance for the past 46 years, has been successfully consolidated
by injecting liquid resin into the fractured rock at very high pressure. Once
injected, the resin solidifies at high compressive strengths, which then
allows for the installation of tensioned, end-anchored high tensile steel
supports. These anchor supports and the area ground support of the entire
shaft barrel extends to 100 metres above and 75 metres below the WAF zone. All
of this work has been executed by independent specialists in the field of
shaft stabilization and inspected by an independent third party to ensure that
the consolidation and support work conform to design specifications.
To further reduce the impact of any work interruption from the WAF, the
Corporation is installing a hanging steel tower through which the shaft cages
will be transported through the WAF zone. This installation of the new tower
steelwork to create the hanging tower has progressed well. Thirteen of the 25
tower sets have been installed to date.
Phase 2 of the shaft rehabilitation work to support the WAF zone is being
undertaken from the access provided by the new tower steelwork. This support
work entails the installation of high tensile mesh screens, which are anchored
in position using five 370 kiloNewton strength tendons per screen as per the
design criteria for this area of the shaft.
The tower set installation and Phase 2 secondary support screen
installation is scheduled for completion in December 2007. Upon completion,
re-profiling of the shaft concrete and sidewall will commence and is scheduled
for completion by February 2008.
Phase 1 of the Ezulwini de-stressing project, which entails the creation
of a 30-metre annulus excavation around the shaft barrel to remove rock stress
from the WAF, is scheduled to commence in February 2008.
Phase 2 of the de-stressing project is intended to develop stopes that
will intersect the annulus, where 450 metres of development has already been
Preparation for production stoping is going according to schedule and
management anticipates that the production of ore from newly equipped stopes
will commence in October 2007 as planned.
Based on existing surface stockpiles and actual production rates,
stockpiles will be tailored to ensure that sufficient surface inventory will
exist for the commissioning of the gold plant in April 2008 and the uranium
plant in June 2008. Until the Ezulwini gold plant is commissioned, the
Corporation will toll treat higher grade gold ore and expects to begin
processing in October, as planned.
BUFFELSFONTEIN TAILINGS RECOVERY PROJECT
Since the acquisition of the adjacent operation of Mine Waste Solutions
("MWS") effective June 6, 2007, the Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project
(the "Project") has been producing gold from the MWS tailings dams. The
acquired MWS gold plant will be the new site for the planned uranium plant and
expanded gold plant for the Project. To allow the Corporation to move all
350 million tonnes of tailings to the plant for processing will require the
use of water cannons, pumps, a hydraulic monitoring station and pipelines.
The construction of the hydraulic monitoring station and new production
pipelines between the Buffelsfontein number two tailings dam and the MWS gold
plant is progressing well and is scheduled for commissioning in November 2007
The Corporation's Board of Directors has approved a US$11.7 million
capital program to install the first monitoring station and to increase the
previously planned mining rate and throughput at the existing MWS gold plant
from 500,000 tonnes of tailings per month to 630,000 tonnes per month.
In addition, the Board has approved an upgrade of the Project's
pre-feasibility study to a full feasibility study due for completion in
November 2007. As part of this study, First Uranium will report the results of
the final pressure leach testing and outline its tailings treatment strategy.
The Corporation is on track with the accelerated schedule (which resulted from
the MWS acquisition) to commission the Project's uranium plant and an
expansion of the gold plant by November 2008.
"The progress we have made to date gives us greater confidence that the
Ezulwini Mine and the Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project will meet their
production targets on schedule and on budget," said Gordon Miller, President
and Chief Executive Officer of First Uranium.
Cautionary Language Regarding Forward-Looking Information
This news release contains certain forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and
other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements
of First Uranium to be materially different from any future results,
performance or achievement expressed or implied by the forward-looking
statements. Risks and uncertainties include, among others, the actual results
of the planned feasibility study for the Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery
Project, the actual results of additional exploration and development
activities, the timing and amount of estimated future production and the cost
thereof, the conclusions of economic evaluations, failure of plant, equipment
or processes to operate as anticipated, accidents, labour disputes or other
risks of the mining industry. Although First Uranium has attempted to identify
important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ
materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be
other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated,
estimated or intended. It is important to note, that: (i) unless otherwise
indicated, forward-looking statements indicate the Corporation's expectations
as at the date hereof; (ii) actual results may differ materially from the
Corporation's expectations if known and unknown risks or uncertainties affect
its business, or if estimates or assumptions prove inaccurate; (iii) the
Corporation cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statement will
materialize and, accordingly, readers are cautioned not to place undue
reliance on these forward-looking statements; and (iv) the Corporation
disclaims any intention and assumes no obligation to update or revise any
forward-looking statement even if new information becomes available, as a
result of future events or for any other reason. In addition, First Uranium is
in the development stage and is subject to the risks and challenges similar to
other companies in a comparable stage of development. The risks include, but
are not limited to, certain business, operational and market risks. For a
discussion of the Corporation's risks please refer to the Corporation's Annual
MD&A, the 2007 Annual Information Form and other filings, which are available
on the Corporation's website www.firsturanium.com and on www.sedar.com or upon
request from the Corporation.
About First Uranium Corporation
First Uranium Corporation is focused on the development of South African
uranium and gold mines with the goal of becoming a significant producer
through the re-opening and development of the Ezulwini Mine, and the
construction of the Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project. First Uranium
also plans to grow production by pursuing acquisition and joint venture
First Uranium Corporation
1240-155 University Avenue, Toronto, ON Canada M5H 3B7
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