Mason Graphite Announces Robust Preliminary Economic Assessment Results, Featuring 22 Years of Production at 27.4% Cgr and an IRR of 33.7%
April 22, 2013 (Source: CNW) Montreal, QC — Mason Graphite Inc. (“Mason Graphite” or the “Company”) (TSX.V: LLG) reports strong results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment study (“PEA”) for the development of its 100%-owned Lac Guéret graphite project in northeastern Quebec.
Cautionary Note: A PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred Mineral Resources, which are considered too geologically speculative to have mining and economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. There is no certainty that the reserves development, production, and economic forecasts on which the PEA is based will be realized.
Benoît Gascon, CEO of Mason Graphite commented, “We are very pleased with the excellent results of the PEA, which demonstrates a low cost project with robust economics. Our senior management team has decades of cumulative experience producing and selling graphite, and with our partners, we have delivered a technically sound, realistic, and highly profitable project. The completion of the PEA is a significant milestone for the project and demonstrates that the Lac Guéret mine has the potential of becoming a reliable and long term global supplier of high quality graphite. We now intend to proceed with the next phase of development in order to bring this exceptional asset one step closer to production.”
The PEA was prepared by Met-Chem Canada Inc. (Montreal, Quebec), with contributions from SGS Minerals Services (“SGS”) (Lakefield, Ontario) for the process development; both are independent leading firms in the mineral processing industry. Unless otherwise noted, all monetary figures presented in this document are in Canadian dollars.
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Excellent mineral growth potential expected
The PEA was prepared using data from the July 2012 mineral resource estimate, which consists of 0.3 million tonnes at 24.4% Cgr in the Measured category, 7.3 million tonnes at 20.2% Cgr in the Indicated category and 2.8 million tonnes at 17.3% Cgr in the Inferred category (see Technical Report dated July 3, 2012 for details). This mineral resource is hosted on a small portion of the GC Zone, as shown in figure 1.
Since the completion of the July 2012 mineral resource, the Company has completed 26,500 metres of additional drilling. This program consisted of 145 drill holes around the resource envelope in the GC Zone and 18 drill holes in the GR Zone to test for continuity of mineralization (see Nov. 21, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013 and April 3, 2013 press releases). The program successfully identified mineralization with similar grades in both zones.
After the 22-year mine life proposed in the PEA, 5.6 million tonnes of mineralization grading 13.1% of graphite will still remain as part of the 2012 mineral resource envelope. An updated mineral resource is currently underway by Roche Ltd. Consulting Group, which will include 145 new drill holes from the GC Zone; the Company expects that the addition of the latest GC Zone results in the upcoming mineral resource will significantly increase this quantity and grade and, consequently, will further increase the mine life beyond the one contemplated in the PEA.
COMMERCIAL SALES & REVENUES
50,000 tonnes of saleable graphite annually; $76.2 million in annual revenues
The Lac Guéret mine will produce an average of 50,000 tonnes of saleable graphite annually. At an average sale price of $1,525 per tonne, this represents $76.2 million in annual revenue. The flake size distribution and associated prices are summarized in the table.
Graphite flake distribution and price assumptions
The sale price assumptions used in the PEA were based on the 24-month average graphite prices published by Industrial Minerals magazine (”IM”). Applying Mason’s product distribution to IM’s 24-month averages, the average selling price would become $1,974/tonne. In comparison to the industry’s market prices, the graphite prices used in the PEA are deemed by the Company to be conservative.
Luc Veilleux, CFO of Mason Graphite, commented, “The conservative price assumptions used in the PEA could represent a potential opportunity for improved economics. Integrating the 24-month average IM price of $1,974/tonne in the financial model could yield a potential improvement with a pre-tax NPV (8% discount) of $558M and an IRR of 44.7%.”
The commercial scenario used in the PEA considers realistic assumptions that are based on Mason Graphite’s established relationships with existing markets. Graphite is not an openly traded mineral, therefore prices are negotiated between end-users and producers in annual or multi-year contracts. The Company will continue to build close and continuous relationships with its potential customers in order to tailor the finished product to meet their exact needs. The Lac Guéret project does not rely on yet-to-come technologies and demands; however, it will be well positioned to work with new applications, technologies, markets and customers.
The Lac Guéret graphite deposit outcrops on surface, therefore mining will be carried out using conventional open pit mining. Due to the hard nature of the mineralization, drilling and blasting will be required. The high grade graphite in the mineralization and the low waste stripping ratio will result in a very low amount of total material movement. Throughout the life of the mine, only about 6 tonnes of material will have to be mined for the production of one tonne of finished graphite concentrate.
The processing plant and waste dump will be located less than 1,500 metres from the mine to ensure short cycle times and low production costs.
PROCESSING & RECOVERY
Proven process resulting in exceptionally high graphite recoveries above 96%
The graphite recovery process at Lac Guéret consists of crushing, followed by multiple steps of grinding and flotation separation circuits. The processing plant is based on a flow sheet developed by SGS, using proven technologies to create a very efficient process resulting in remarkably high graphite recoveries. Lock cycle tests were performed by SGS and have demonstrated the robustness of the flow sheet.
Using standard product specifications of the industry, commercial distribution was calculated based on the mineral deposit’s metallurgical distribution. See the Company’s press release dated February 22, 2013 for further detail on the Lac Guéret metallurgical results.
The processing plant was designed to allow for capacity increases to satisfy the market demand.
Flake size distribution for annual production of 50,000 tonnes of concentrate
Additional development work is planned with the goal of further optimizing the flake size distribution as well as the purity of the final concentrate. These tests will also be conducted on samples obtained from other areas of the mineral deposit.
CAPITAL & OPERATING COSTS
Low capital intensity and cash operating costs
PROJECT LOCATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Excellent accessibility in a stable and mining-friendly jurisdiction
The Lac Guéret property covers approximately 11,630 ha (116 km2) in northeastern Quebec, and is located about 300 km north of the main service centre of Baie-Comeau. The mine site is accessible from the main public highway, Hwy 389, via approximately 80 km of good quality logging roads throughout the property. The Company plans to build a mining and operations camp that will consist of accommodations for the personnel, offices and a fully equipped maintenance facility for the fleet of vehicles. Power for the project will be produced
Quality Control and Assurance
Mary-Jean Buchanan, Eng. M.Env., of Met-Chem Canada Inc. independent Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, for the purposes of the PEA has reviewed the technical content of this press release. Jean L’Heureux, Eng., Senior Director of Process Development for Mason Graphite, and a Qualified Person for Mason Graphite has read and approved this press release. About Mason Graphite
Mason Graphite is a Canadian mining company focused on the exploration and development of its 100% owned Lac Guéret graphite property, which is located in northeastern Québec near the main service center of Baie-Comeau. The Lac Guéret graphite property currently hosts a National Instrument 43-101 compliant Mineral Resource (see news release issued on July 16, 2012), which considers the exploration of only 17% of one well defined zone. Excellent potential exists for mineral growth. The Company’s senior management team possesses significant graphite expertise from their experience at Timcal/Imerys; including Benoit Gascon, CPA, CA, who held 20 years of executive positions, including over 6 years as President and CEO; Jean L’Heureux, Eng., Senior Director of Process Development, with over 20 years of experience; and Luc Veilleux, CPA, CA, with 8 years of experience. Timcal, now owned by Imerys, is one of the largest graphite producers in the world. Cautionary Statements
Regarding Forward Looking Information
This press release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation. All information contained herein that is not clearly historical in nature may constitute forward-looking information. Generally, such forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved”. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: (i) volatile stock price; (ii) the general global markets and economic conditions; (iii) the possibility of write-downs and impairments; (iv) the risk associated with exploration, development and operations of mineral deposits; (v) the risk associated with establishing title to mineral properties and assets; (vi) the risks associated with entering into joint ventures; (vii) fluctuations in commodity prices; (viii) the risks associated with uninsurable risks arising during the course of exploration, development and production; (ix) competition faced by the resulting issuer in securing experienced personnel and financing; * access to adequate infrastructure to support mining, processing, development and exploration activities; (xi) the risks associated with changes in the mining regulatory regime governing the resulting issuer; (xii) the risks associated with the various environmental regulations the resulting issuer is subject to; (xiii) risks related to regulatory and permitting delays; (xiv) risks related to potential conflicts of interest; (xv) the reliance on key personnel; (xvi) liquidity risks; (xvii) the risk of potential dilution through the issue of common shares; (xviii) the Company does not anticipate declaring dividends in the near term; (xix) the risk of litigation; and (xx) risk management. Forward-looking information is based on assumptions management believes to be reasonable at the time such statements are made, including but not limited to, continued exploration activities, no material adverse change in metal prices, exploration and development plans proceeding in accordance with plans and such plans achieving their stated expected outcomes, receipt of required regulatory approvals, and such other assumptions and factors as set out herein. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking information. Such forward-looking information has been provided for the purpose of assisting investors in understanding the Company’s business, operations and exploration plans and may not be appropriate for other purposes. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Forward-looking information is made as of the date of this press release, and the Company does not undertake to update such forward-looking information except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
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