Vancouver, B.C., September 1st, 2011. Empire Mining Corporation (EPC: TSX-V
) is pleased to report that initial studies that it commissioned on the wollastonite mineralization in the Main Zone of the Demirtepe deposit, which is the exclusive host of the copper-gold-silver mineralization, indicate that it is potentially of significant economic importance and can therefore possibly considerably benefit the feasibility of a future copper-gold mine development at Demirtepe.
The wollastonite mineralization in the Main Zone at Demirtepe has been followed within a 350 x 100 meter corridor to a depth of some 150 meters, where it is cut by a low angle detachment fault. The orebody* is well-defined by 27 drill-holes and 5,847.8 meters of core. The logs will be re-mapped for wollastonite and the mineralization will be model in Micromine with the aim of carrying-out a NI43-101 compliant resource estimate for copper-gold-silver-molybdenum and wollastonite in Q4 2011. SRK Consulting Engineers has also been contracted to begin an environmental baseline study over the area.
Wollastonite, a calcium silicate mineral, occupies a niche, but growing, market presently at around 540,000 tonnes per annum globally (Y2010). It has a number of specialist applications including; ceramics, advanced construction, paint products, metallurgical fluxes, plastics and friction materials. New applications include; healthcare products, environmental management and waste treatment, as well as agricultural uses. China currently produces about 60% of world output. India and the USA are other important producers. Prices range from $80 to over $1,500 per tonne, depending on physical characteristics and purity of the product, although actual received prices depend on seller/buyer contracts. Wollastonite can be separated from garnet and other minerals by dry magnetic separation or flotation. The acicularity (needle-like crystals) of some of the Demirtepe wollastonite suggests that the product could achieve prices significantly above the floor prices.
In order to better understand the wollastonite business and obtain an independent view of the Demirtepe deposit, Empire retained HGRAB (Ltd) a consulting business operated by Professor Rob Hellingwerf who is qualified as European Geologist and has more than 20 years' experience in wollastonite deposits. His two reports, one on occurrence, market, concentration and beneficiation, the other on a site visit to Demirtepe, can be obtained at the following links:
According to the studies, the Demirtepe Project occupies a strategic location relative to current world production of wollastonite. The nearest producing location is the Lappeenranta Mine in Finland, implying that there is potential for Demirtepe to fill the gap in large parts of Europe, the Mediterranean area and the near Middle East. The studies also concluded that a substantial part of the Main Zone consists of four types of wollastonite-bearing rock, as well as the copper/gold-and molybdenum bearing sulphides:
- Wollastonite-garnet skarn with wollastonite in excess of 80% of volume, considered high-grade.
- Wollastonite-garnet skarn with wollastonite between 50% and 80% of the rock mass, considered medium-grade.
- Wollastonite-garnet skarn with wollastonite less than 50%, considered low-grade stockpile material for wollastonite and garnet.
- Banded wollastonite-calcite with wollastonite between 25% and 75% by volume, considered low to medium grade and appears to be a low percentage component.
The re-logging of the wollastonite mineralization will use the above categories, and be carried-out with the aid of short wave ultraviolet light, as the mineral fluoresces. In addition, processing tests are planned to obtain a better fix on the quality categories of the wollastonite for pricing.
HGRAB's report also points out that garnet could be a valuable co-product of mineral separation. Garnet based industrial applications include; sandpaper manufacture, water filtration, and high-end abrasive uses such as water-jet cutting, sand, ceramics and glass production. Depending on use, indicative prices range from $50 to $250 per tonne. Initial indications are that there is a significant gap in the regional market for garnet.
The consequence of understanding the relative importance of wollastonite and garnet to the valuation of the copper-gold-silver-molybdenum mineralization cannot be understated. Not only is there potential for value-adding from co-products, but waste is minimized and becomes less of an environmental and waste management issue in a mine development scenario.
Empire is presently considering several options for development and eventual commercial exploitation of its wollastonite resource. Given the high value of the product and the specialist market, as is the case with many industrial minerals, Empire is considering Partnership and Joint Venture opportunities with third parties experienced in this sector as a means of fast-tracking the opportunity to market and unlocking value for shareholders.
* The term "orebody" in this press release is not used in the historical sense and is not meant to imply current economic viability.
Empire's Qualified Person, David C. Cliff, BSc (Hons), MIMMM, C Eng, FGS, also Empire's President & CEO, has reviewed and approved the content of this news release.
ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD
President & CEO
Neither the 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.
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This release contains forward-looking information and statements, as defined by law including without limitation Canadian securities laws and the "safe harbor" provisions of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("forward-looking statements"), respecting Empire's exploration plans. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including without limitation the ability to acquire necessary permits and other authorizations; environmental compliance; cost increases; availability of qualified workers; competition for mining properties; risks associated with exploration projects, mineral reserve and resource estimates (including the risk of assumption and methodology errors); dependence on third parties for services; non-performance by contractual counterparties; title risks; and general business and economic conditions. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions that may prove to be incorrect, including without limitation assumptions about: general business and economic conditions; the timing and receipt of required approvals; availability of financing; power prices; ability to procure equipment and supplies; and ongoing relations with employees, partners and joint venturers. The foregoing list is not exhaustive and Empire undertakes no obligation to update any of the foregoing except as required by law.