OTTAWA (Oct. 29, 2012) — Focus Graphite Inc. (“Focus” or the “Company”) (TSX-V:FMS; OTCQX:FCSMF; FSE:FKC) announces positive results of the Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) on its Lac Knife Graphite Project (“Lac Knife” or the “Project”). The PEA was prepared by Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. (“RPA”), in collaboration with Soutex Inc. (“Soutex” – responsible for metallurgy and mineral processing) and demonstrates that the Project has robust economics and excellent potential to become a profitable producer of graphite.
Highlights of the PEA are summarized below:
• Proposed Life of Mine production of 6.0 million tonnes (Mt) of mill feed at a grade of 15.66% graphitic carbon (Cgr), based on the initial Mineral Resource estimate disclosed on January 19, 2012
Mine Life of 20 years, open pit operation at 300,000 tonnes per year
• Processing through a sequence of crushing, grinding, flotation, magnetic separation, thickening and drying, producing a primary concentrate of graphite of various grades and flake sizes
• Tailings directed through sulfide flotation circuit in order to minimize the volume of acid-generating residues and to enable proper management of both acid generating tailings and waste rock within a unique disposal site
• Average graphite recovery of 91.3% at Lac Knife process plant
• Life of Mine production of 928,000 tonnes of concentrate at 92% Cgr on average at Lac Knife, or approximately 46,600 tonnes of concentrate per annum (tpa)
• Thermal purification upgrade of approximately 40% of the primary concentrate to 99.99% Cgr by an existing producer with inherent purification losses of 15%
• Life of Mine Project production of 868,000 tonnes of concentrate at 93.5% Cgr on average, including 338,000 tonnes of high purity 99.95% Cgr product
• Exchange rate US$1.00 = C$1.00
• PEA economics for the Project calculated based on graphite market prices of $10,000, $1,300, and $800 per tonne of battery grade (>99.95% Cgr, +100 mesh), medium grade (>90% Cgr, -100+200 mesh) and fine grade (>80% Cgr, -200 mesh) respectively, on a FOB mine basis
• $246 million pre-tax Net Present Value (NPV) (at a 10% discount rate)
• 32% pre-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
• $926 million pre-tax undiscounted cash flow
• $3.7 billion total net revenue
• Pre-tax payback period of 2.8 years
• $154 million initial capital cost, inclusive of $33 million and $24 million in working capital and contingency (25%), respectively
• $68 per tonne average unit operating cost at Lac Knife
• $435 per tonne average unit operating cost, assuming thermal purification on a contract basis
Note: This PEA is considered by RPA to meet the requirements of a Preliminary Economic Assessment as defined in National Instrument 43 101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”). The economic analysis contained in the technical report is based, in part, on Inferred Resources (as defined in NI 43-101), and is preliminary in nature. Inferred Resources are considered too geologically speculative to have mining and economic considerations applied to them and to be categorized as Mineral Reserves (as defined in NI 43-101). 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.
Gary Economo, President and CEO of Focus Graphite, stated, “This is a great day for the Canadian graphite industry, our shareholders and the province of Québec. Lac Knife is a world-class resource and the publication of our Preliminary Economic Assessment confirms Focus has the potential to become one of the highest-grade lowest-cost producers of graphite in the world. We enter a new phase now, where we can expedite our financing, advance customer off-take agreements, and construction of our purification and anode facilities.”
The Project is located in the Côte-Nord administrative region of Québec. Fermont is the closest community and is located 27 km north-north east of the Project. Road distance from Montreal to Lac Knife is approximately 1,300 km and by all-season highway 389, it is 500 km from Baie-Comeau to Fermont. The municipalities of Wabush and Labrador City, in Newfoundland and Labrador are located 30 km from Fermont, and Wabush is home to a commercial airport with regular flights to Sept-Iles, Québec, and Montréal.
Geology and Mineral Resources
The Project hosts graphite enriched metasediments. Graphite occurs as lenses and bands. Currently, graphite rich rocks have been identified from drilling undertaken in 1989 and more recently in 2010-2011 with 12 drill holes aimed at twining the older holes with the objective of confirming the 1989 grade and lithology information. The mineralized zone extends approximately 650 m in length and 120 m in thickness. Mineralization reaches the surface under a layer of overburden. Mineralization is intersected at depths reaching 110 m. There is potential for the delineation of additional Mineral Resources at greater depth and along strike to the south.
On January 19, 2012, Focus released an initial NI 43-101 compliant Mineral Resource estimate in a Technical Report. RPA reviewed and accepted the current Mineral Resources and has declared them adequate to support the current PEA with one modification to the Mineral Resource classification. RPA elected not to classify any Mineral Resources as Measured and, as a consequence, converted the January 2012 Measured Mineral Resources to the Indicated category. The Mineral Resources are presented in the table below.
Mineral Resource Estimate
|Category||Tonnage (tonnes)||Grade (% Cgr)|
1. CIM definitions were followed for Mineral Resources.
2. Mineral Resources are estimated at a cut-off grade of 5% Cgr.
3. Numbers may not add due to rounding.
4. Cgr – graphitic carbon
Mining will be carried out using conventional truck and loader open pit mining methods. Life of Mine strip ratio averages 1.12:1. An owner-operated mining fleet is proposed over the life of the operation. Pre-stripping of overburden is required prior to commencement of mining operations.
Highlights of the production schedule are as follows:
• A short ramp-up to full production with 270,000 tonnes produced in Year 1
• Production of 300,000 tpa, or 822 tpd
• Waste mining averaging 335,000 tpa
Production quantities total 6.0 Mt, at a grade of 15.66% Cgr. This includes mining extraction and dilution (at zero grade) factors applied to the potentially mineable graphite bearing material.
Processing and Recovery
The selected process consists of crushing followed by a grinding and flotation separation circuit. The resulting concentrate is then thickened, dried and stored. The tailings generated by the concentration process passes through flotation cells to separate acid generating tailings from clean non acid tailings.
The PEA forecasted concentrate production is approximately 46,600 tpa with a tailings production expected at approximately 253,400 tpa. This is based on a concentrate average grade of 92% Cgr and a recovery of 91.3% derived from testwork results conducted by SGS Canada Inc. (SGS). Although laboratory and locked cycle tests were performed with a slightly higher potentially mineable ore grade than estimated, no significant impact is expected on the anticipated recovery.
Tailings, Waste Rock and Water Management
One of the challenges for the Project is the management of acid-generating materials. The graphite-bearing mineralization, the waste rock and the tailings showed acid-generating potential. Therefore, the mine water and the ore storage run-off water will likely be acidic. The global program to manage this issue will comprise the following:
• Subaqueous co-disposition of acidic tailings and waste rock into a unique storage site: the tailings and waste rock storage facility (TSF).
• Sulfide flotation to reduce the proportion of acidic tailings to 30% of the total volume.
• Tailings managed in two separate streams.
• Use of the 70% non-acidic alkaline tailings as inert material for encapsulation of acid generating tailings and waste rock within the TSF.
• Water treatment plant and polishing pond for pH neutralisation, metals precipitation, and sedimentation.
• Water management to direct all industrial sourced waters through the water treatment plant and/or the polishing pond as required.
The Project considers the thermal purification of approximately 40% of the concentrate produced at the Lac Knife process plant. This portion of the primary concentrate production meets the specifications (+100 mesh, >95% Cgr) for purification to 99.99% Cgr. Graphite concentrate of this purity is used in battery production and other applications at high prices. It has been assumed that the thermal purification would be done under contract by an existing producer, with related losses of approximately 15%.
Focus has initiated contacts with several major graphite consuming groups in North America, Europe and Asia. Marketing efforts have been targeted to high value end users requiring superior quality product in terms of product purity and flake size. Potential customers have provided Focus with product quality requirements and projected annual demand. RPA has reviewed these expressions of interest and is satisfied that there are sufficient indications of demand to support the projected PEA production forecast. To date, Focus has identified the following major product opportunities:
• Ultra high purity thermo processed battery grade product based on large flake, high purity concentrate
• Medium to fine flake graphite concentrate, -100+200 mesh, +90% graphitic carbon concentrate
• Fine flake concentrate, -200 mesh, +80% graphitic carbon concentrate
Production quantities for each major grade category are based on the lock cycle concentrate production test results and test recovery results from proprietary thermal purification processing of the high grade primary concentrate. Projected overall product volumes and product qualities are detailed in the following table.
Projected Product Mix
|Grade||Tonnes (maximum annual) (1)||Product Characteristics|
|Battery Grade||16,900 (2)||>99.95% Cgr, +100 mesh|
|Medium Grade||11,200||>90% Cgr, -100+200 mesh|
|Fine Grade||15,500||>80% Cgr, -200 mesh|
(1) totals are rounded
(2) inclusive of conversion recovery factor from 19,900 t of primary concentrate
Current published prices for the Project’s major graphite product opportunities are detailed as follows.
|Synthetic, 99.95%C, Swiss||Swiss border||US$/kg||20 – 7|
|Crystalline, 90%C, -100 mesh||FCL, CIF European port||US$/t||1,400 – 1,100|
|Amorphous powder, 80%-85%C, Chinese||FCL, CIF European port||US$/t||800 – 600|
Source: Industrial Minerals, September 2012
Freight and insurance costs are projected to be approximately $63/t for product sold to customers in the United States, $200/t for deliveries to Europe and $428/t for deliveries to Asia. RPA has reviewed various price scenarios and has assumed the following price in the economic analysis:
• Battery Grade $10,000/t FOB mine – $9,572/t CIF equivalent
• Medium Grade $1,300/t FOB mine – $1,237/t CIF equivalent
• Fine Grade $800/t FOB mine – $600/t CIF equivalent
The price set used in the PEA averages $4,196 per tonne of graphite concentrates FOB mine prior any deductions for marketing, freight and insurance; or 16,900 tpa at $9,572/t (purification losses considered) and 26,700 tpa at $867/t on average, CIF considered.
RPA considers these graphite prices to be appropriate for a PEA-level study. It is noted that the processing for the Battery Grade product, which accounts for some 86% of LOM revenue, is based on an expression of interest by a producer and is by no means a certainty, however, RPA considers the assumption to be reasonable for a PEA.
Total net revenue is $3.7 billion, averaging $185 million per year. On a unit basis, net revenue is $615 per tonne milled.
The estimated initial capital cost has been developed to include all mining, processing, infrastructure, tailings and indirect capital costs. The capital cost estimate includes a contingency of $24 million (25% of direct and indirect capital costs) and is summarized in the table below.
Initial Capital Cost Estimate
|Capital Cost Item||Cost ($ million)|
|Mining (incl. pre-stripping overburden/waste)||11.2|
|Tailings / Waste Rock & Water Treatment||3.1|
|Working Capital (3-month opex)||32.6|
|Total Initial Capital Cost||153.5|
Sustaining capital, totalling $25 million consists of mine, process, and infrastructure equipment replacement, tailings and waste rock storage facility expansion, progressive environmental rehabilitation, and mine closure costs.
The Life of Mine operating costs have been estimated for mining, stockpile re-handling, processing, tailings and water treatment, and general and administration. The operating costs are summarized in the following table.
Operating Cost Estimate
|Operating Costs Item||Cost ($/t milled)|
|Mining / Re-handling||15|
|Processing / Tailings and Water Treatment||41|
|General and Administration||12|
|Total Operating Costs||68|
In addition, the unit cost for thermal purification under contract was derived from a budget quote by an existing producer and considered the approximate 15% losses during the purification process. This cost equates to $367 per tonne milled, therefore bringing the overall operating cost to $435 per tonne milled.
Preliminary Economic Assessment
Financial evaluation of the Project was carried out using a cash flow model, on a pre-tax basis. Estimates are based on constant 2012 dollar basis, with no provision for escalation. Results are provided in the following table.
PEA Financial Results
|Results||Value ($ million)|
|Marketing and CIF||225|
|Total Operating Cost||2,597|
|Operating Cash Flow||1,072|
|Initial Capital Cost||154|
|Working Capital Recovery||(33)|
|Pre-Tax Cash Flow||926|
|Net Present Value|
|8% discount rate||316|
|10% discount rate||246|
|12% discount rate||192|
|Payback Period||2.8 years|
NPV Sensitivity Analysis
Key economic risks were examined by running cash flow sensitivities on:
• head grade;
• graphite market price;
• operating cost per tonne milled; and
• capital cost
The pre-tax NPV (at 10%) sensitivity analysis has been calculated for -20% to +20% variations on the above items, with the exception of recovery which has been calculated for 20% to +5%. There is minimal to no effect on NPV when the head grade and recovery factors are adjusted above 0% because of the Project market ceiling on graphite concentrate sales. The NPV sensitivity is shown in the following graph.
The technical and economic information relating to the PEA contained in this press release has been reviewed and approved by Marc Lavigne, M.Sc., ing., Senior Mining Engineer for RPA, Robert de l’Étoile, M.Sc.A., ing., Principal Geological Engineer for RPA, and Pierre Roy, M.Sc., P.Eng., ing., Senior Metallurgist Specialist for Soutex, all independent qualified persons under NI 43-101. The technical report will be filed on SEDAR on or before October 31, 2012.
Other News – Bi-Weekly Default Status Report
As previously reported, the Company is presently in default because of its failure to file the PEA and supporting technical report (the “Technical Report”) under NI 43-101 and will continue to be in default until such time as it files the required report on the Project.
In compliance with the alternative information guidelines set out in National Policy 12-203 – Cease Trade Orders for Continuous Disclosure Defaults (“NP 12-203”) for issuers who have failed to comply with a specified continuous disclosure requirement within the times prescribed by applicable securities laws, Focus issued today a default status report by way of present press release confirming the Company’s objective to file the PEA and Technical Report at the latest on October 31, 2012.
Until Focus completes the filing of the PEA and Technical Report, and until the Management Cease Trade Order (“MCTO”) is subsequently lifted by the Ontario Securities Commission (the “OSC”), Focus will comply with the alternative information guidelines set out in NP 12-203. The guidelines, among other things, require the Company to issue bi-weekly default status reports by way of a news release so long as the PEA and Technical Report have not been filed.
The Company reports that since its original announcement on September 10, 2012 in respect of the notice of default received from the OSC and its subsequent announcement on September 25, 2012 relating to the issuance of the MCTO (collectively, the “Notice”), with the exception of the Company’s announcement today of the PEA results, there has not been any other material changes to the information provided in the Notice nor any failure by the Company in fulfilling its stated intentions with respect to satisfying the alternative information guidelines required pursuant to NP 12-203. In addition, there has not been any other specified default by the Company under NP 12-203, nor are any anticipated and there is no other material information concerning the affairs of the Company that has not been generally disclosed.
This press release has been reviewed and approved by Marc-André Bernier, M.Sc., P.Geo. (Ontario and Québec), Technical Advisor and a Director of Focus, and a Qualified Person under NI 43-101.
About Focus Graphite
Focus Graphite Inc. is an emerging mid-tier junior mining development company, a technology solutions supplier and a business innovator. It is the owner of the NI 43-101 compliant Lac Knife graphite deposit grading 16% carbon as graphite. The company’s goal is to assume an industry leadership position by becoming a low-cost producer of technology-grade graphite. As a technology-oriented enterprise with a view to building long-term, sustainable shareholder value, Focus Graphite is investing in the development of graphene applications and patents through Grafoid Inc.
For more information, please contact:
President and Chief Executive Officer
This News Release may contain or refer to “forward-looking statements” which reflect Management’s expectations regarding the Company’s future growth, results of operations, performance and business prospects and opportunities.
These statements reflect Management’s current beliefs at the time of this news release and are based on information currently available to Management.
All statements other than statements of historical fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential mineralization and reserves, exploration results, and future plans and objectives of the Company, are forward-looking statements that involve various risks and uncertainties.
There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from Management’s expectations are exploration risks detailed herein and from time to time in the filings made by the Company with securities regulators.
While the Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments may cause its views to change, it specifically disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements, except in accordance with applicable securities laws. Accordingly, readers are advised not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.