Vancouver, B.C., June 08th, 2009. Empire Mining Corporation (EPC: TSX-V) ("Empire" or the "Company") is pleased to report on progress with pre-development activities at its Bulqiza chromite project following the issue of four exclusive Exploration Licenses, totaling 64.5 km2 and covering much of the historically productive Bulqiza ultramafic massif in eastern Albania (see announcement of 26th February 2009).
In preparation for plans to carry-out a drilling campaign in the third quarter of this year, Empire's initial program has been focused on the acquisition, review, compilation and transfer to electronic format of an extensive database of exploration and production data generated by the Albanian Geological Survey and Albkrom, the former state chromite mining company, during the period immediately following World War II until collapse of the communist government in 1989.
The process of data digitization, and generation of updated cross sections, longitudinal sections and level plans, has now been completed for the South Bulqiza-Batra and Thekna mine areas where Empire's principal targets for resource development occur within open extensions of the formerly mined chromite deposits. An independent mining consultancy has been engaged to verify and confirm the integrity of the historic data for eventual reporting and resource estimation to the standards of National Instrument 43-101. An initial report on this activity is expected in early July.
The South Bulqiza-Batra mines cover a 2.5 km long south extension of the folded chromite ore structure developed in the famous Bulqiza Mine immediately to the north. The Bulqiza Mine, which has been in continuous operation since the 1940's is reported to have produced approximately 18 million tonnes of ore grading +40% Cr2O3 ranking it among the largest ophiolite-hosted, folded stratiform chromite deposits in the world. Empire's program is focused on the undeveloped west and east limb extensions of the folded ore structure, which has been mined for a dip length in excess of 1 km at the Bulqiza Mine but only 400 meters at South Bulqiza-Batra, within and adjacent to existing underground workings.
Albania's National Agency of Natural Resources ("AKBN") reports existing resources of 730,000 tonnes grading 38% Cr2O3 in the Batra sector of the South Bulqiza-Batra mines and 652,000 tonnes grading +40% Cr2O3 at the Thekna Mine located 8km south of South Bulqiza-Batra. However, Empire's evaluation of available information indicates the potential for significantly larger resources to be identified within extensions of the west and east limbs of the folded chromite structure beyond historical workings in both mines. Empire has also identified the potential for additional resource development within and adjacent to other former chromite mines and prospects on Empire's South Bulqiza-Batra license and on the Veriore, Qafe Burreli and Liqeni i Dhive licenses in the northern part of the Bulqiza District. A map of the project areas is available at:
SRK Consulting has been engaged to guide Empire's target prioritization and resource confirmation programs and carry out an economic scoping study of minimum size/grade parameters for a mining operation at the Bulqiza project. SRK's study has indicated that a resource of 2.5 million tonnes grading +35% Cr2O3, with a breakeven grade of 18%, should be capable of supporting a profitable operation over a 10 year mine life.
Data compilation and verification, and program development including inspection and rehabilitation of underground workings required for drilling and eventual mine development, are expected to be completed by mid-summer to be followed by an initial drilling program in the third quarter of the current year. The program will be directed at resource confirmation and expansion of reported AKBN resources at South Bulqiza-Batra and Thekna. Initial field evaluation programs are also planned to evaluate historic chromite mines and prospects located throughout the South Bulqiza-Batra license as well as the Company's Veriore, Qafe Burreli and Liqeni i Dhive licenses in the northern sector of the Bulqiza ultramafic massif.
Since inception of its Bulqiza chromite project last year it has been the Company's intention to attract participation of a strategic industry partner in the project. During the past several months the Company has engaged in discussions with a number of fully integrated chromite, ferrochrome and stainless steel producers and traders in China and India. The Company is encouraged by the considerable interest that has been shown in the Bulqiza chromite project and these discussions are continuing.
The Bulqiza chromite deposits are noted for exceptional continuity along strike and dip and rank among the largest ophiolite-hosted, folded stratiform occurrences in the world. The chromite ores are characterized by high grades (+40% Cr2O3) and metallurgical quality (CrFe ratios of 3:1) and have historically commanded premium prices in global markets. Prior to the collapse of communism in the late 1980's the Albanian chromite industry, anchored by the Bulqiza Mine and satellite operations now largely controlled by Empire, was the third largest producer in the world.
While development of the Bulqiza chromite project remains Empire's priority, outside of Albania the Company is continuing to evaluate its Bursa copper-gold porphyry project in Turkey, joint ventured with Anatolia Minerals and has maintained modest evaluation programs focused on Tethyan-style copper-gold deposits in Serbia and Bosnia.
The historic resources and figures indicated in this press release are not NI 43-101 compliant and insufficient work has been carried out by a "qualified person" as to permit confirmation of these figures or to classify the historic estimates as current mineral resources. They should therefore not be relied upon and Empire Mining does not treat them as current.
The Company's Qualified Person, John Prochnau, B.Sc. (Mining Engineering), M.Sc. (Geology), and a Special Advisor to Empire, has reviewed and approved the content of this news release.