LONGUEUIL, Québec, Oct. 06, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Stornoway Diamond Corporation (TSX:SWY) (the “Corporation” or “Stornoway”) is pleased to provide a diamond processing update on the Renard Diamond Mine, subsequent to the recent quarter ended September 30, 2016.
First ore was introduced to the Renard diamond plant on July 15, 2016. As of the quarter end, 91,010 tonnes of ore had been processed with attributable carat production of 111,556 carats, representing an average grade of 123 carats per hundred tonnes. 21 stones were recovered during the quarter larger than 10.8 carats in size (`specials`).
First Diamond Sale
Stornoway is pleased to announce that its first sale of Renard diamonds will be held in Antwerp, Belgium starting on November 14th, 2016. This is two months earlier than previously anticipated.
Ore Processing Report
Ore processing and diamond recovery during July and early August were irregular as plant equipment and material balancing issues were identified and addressed. The plant’s crushing and recovery circuits have performed well, but modifications have been required to the manner in which processed kimberlite is de-watered prior to disposal. These modifications are ongoing, and represent the principal limiting factor on the rate of ramp-up. Nevertheless, during the month of September ore processing was achieved on a continuous basis at an average run-rate of 1,792 tonnes per day, representing 30% of plant nameplate capacity. Peak processing run-rate achieved during September was 3,130 tonnes per day, or 52% of nameplate capacity. Commercial production at Renard is defined as 60% of nameplate capacity for a 30-day period. This is expected to be achieved, on schedule, by December 31, 2016.
As ore processing proceeds, the geological models of the Renard kimberlites, the diamond grades of their internal geological units, and the size and quality distribution of their diamond populations need to be reconciled separately. During this initial period of plant commissioning, ore from each of the 2a, 2b and 2c geological units in the Renard 2 kimberlite has been processed to assess their metallurgical and diamond recovery characteristics. No ore from the Renard 3 or Renard 65 kimberlites has yet been processed.
In terms of geology, mining on the first three benches in the Renard 2-3 open pit has revealed a higher than expected volume of the higher grade 2b and 2c geological units. This has resulted in a greater than expected volume of this material in the ore stockpiles available for the ramp-up, and offers potentially higher overall carat production in the open-pit phase of the mine. Since continuous ore processing was achieved in the second half of the quarter, recovered diamond grades have shown good correlation with the project’s expected Mineral Resource grades. Initial diamond recoveries suggest variability in quality and size distribution between the individual geological units in Renard 2 that are expected to become more apparent with additional processing. The early diamond production that will be sold in the first sale in November will have a higher proportion of small diamonds in its size distribution than expected, leading to a potentially lower than expected initial diamond price. The quality and size distribution of diamond production from the project is expected to remain variable in the near-term as the plant ramp-up continues and multiple ore units are processed in batch fashion.
Matt Manson, President and CEO, commented “We are pleased with the initial progress of the ramp-up at Renard and the production volumes we have achieved. This has allowed us to schedule our first diamond sale earlier than we had planned. We are working through the type of challenges normal in the commissioning of a new diamond processing plant, and remain on schedule for commercial production by year end. Large volumes of production data are required before a meaningful statement of resource reconciliation can be made in any diamond project. Nevertheless, we are cautiously optimistic about the recovery trends we are seeing at this early stage.”
The Renard Mine official opening ceremony will be held on October 19, 2016 in the presence of company’s board of directors and employees, local community members, and key project stakeholders.
About the Renard Diamond Project
The Renard Diamond Project is located approximately 250 km north of the Cree community of Mistissini and 350 km north of Chibougamau in the James Bay region of north-central Québec. On July 8, 2014, Stornoway announced the completion of a $946 million project financing transaction to fully fund the project to production, and construction commenced on July 10, 2014. Processing of ore commenced on July 15, 2016.
In January 2013, Stornoway released the results of an Optimized Feasibility Study at Renard, with an Updated Mine Plan and Mineral Reserve Estimate in March 2016. These studies highlight the potential of the project to become a significant producer of high value rough diamonds over an initial 14 year mine life. Probable Mineral Reserves, as defined in National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”), stand at 22.3 million carats. In accordance with the Corporation’s September 2015 Mineral Resource estimate, total Indicated Mineral Resources, inclusive of the Mineral Reserve, stand at 30.2 million carats, with a further 13.35 million carats classified as Inferred Mineral Resources, and 33.0 to 71.1 million carats classified as non-resource exploration upside. Average annual diamond production is forecast at 1.8 million carats per annum over the first 10 years of mining, at an average valuation of US$155/carat based on March 2016 terms.
Readers are cautioned that the potential quality and grade of any target for further exploration is conceptual in nature, there has been insufficient exploration to define a Mineral Resource and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the target being delineated as a Mineral Resource. All kimberlites remain open at depth. Readers are referred to the technical report dated February 28, 2013, in respect of the January 2013 Optimization Study, the technical report dated January 11, 2016, in respect of the September 2015 Mineral Resource estimate, and the technical report dated March 30, 2016, in respect of the March 2016 Updated Mine Plan and Mineral Reserve Estimate for further details and assumptions relating to the project.
Disclosure of a scientific or technical nature in this press release was prepared under the supervision of M. Patrick Godin, P.Eng. (Québec), Chief Operating Officer, and Mr. David Farrow, P.Geol. Pr.Sci.Nat (South Africa) and P.Geo. (BC), Vice President Diamonds, both “qualified persons” under NI 43-101.
About Stornoway Diamond Corporation
Stornoway is a leading Canadian diamond exploration and development company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY and headquartered in Montreal. Our flagship asset is the 100% owned Renard Diamond Project, on track to becoming Québec’s first diamond mine. Stornoway is a growth oriented company with a world-class asset, in one of the world’s best mining jurisdictions, in one of the world’s great mining businesses.
On behalf of the Board
STORNOWAY DIAMOND CORPORATION
/s/ “Matt Manson”
President and Chief Executive
For more information, please contact Matt Manson (President and CEO) at 416-304-1026 x2101
or Orin Baranowsky (Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Development) at 416-304-1026 x2103
or toll free at 1-877-331-2232
Pour plus d’information, veuillez contacter M. Ghislain Poirier, Vice-président Affaires publiques de Stornoway au 418-254-6550, firstname.lastname@example.org
This press release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation. This information and these statements, referred to herein as “forward-looking statements”, are made as of the date of this press release and the Corporation does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.
These forward-looking statements include, among others, statements with respect to Stornoway’s objectives for the ensuing year, Stornoway’s medium and long-term goals, and strategies to achieve those objectives and goals, as well as statements with respect to Stornoway’s beliefs, plans, objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates and intentions. Although management considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect.
Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and reflect current expectations or beliefs regarding future events and include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to: (i) the amount of Mineral Reserves, Mineral Resources and exploration targets; (ii) the amount of future production over any period; (iii) net present value and internal rates of return of the mining operation; (iv) assumptions relating to recovered grade, average ore recovery, internal dilution, mining dilution and other mining parameters set out in the Updated Renard Diamond Project Mine Plan and Mineral Reserve Estimate, Québec, Canada, NI 43-101 Technical Report (the “2016 Technical Report”) ; (v) assumptions relating to gross revenues, operating cash flow and other revenue metrics set out in the 2016 Technical Report; (vi) mine expansion potential and expected mine life; (vii) expected time frames for completion of permitting and regulatory approval related to construction activities at the Renard Diamond Project; (viii) the expected time frames for the completion of the open pit and underground mine at the Renard Diamond Project; (ix) the expected time frames for the completion of construction, start of mining and commercial production at the Renard Diamond Project and the financial obligations or costs incurred by Stornoway in connection with such mine development; (x) future exploration plans; (xi) future market prices for rough diamonds; (xii) the economic benefits of using liquefied natural gas rather than diesel for power generation; (xiii) sources of and anticipated financing requirements; (xiv) the effectiveness, funding or availability, as the case may require, of the Stream, the Senior Secured Loan, the COF and the Equipment Facility and the use of proceeds therefrom; (xv) the Corporation’s ability to meet its Subject Diamonds Interest delivery obligations under the Purchase and Sale Agreement; and (xvi) the impact of the Financing Transactions on the Corporation’s operations, infrastructure, opportunities, financial condition, access to capital and overall strategy.; (xvii) the foreign exchange rate between the US dollar and the Canadian dollar; and (xviii) the availability of excess funding for the construction and operation of the Renard Diamond Project . Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, using words or phrases such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “projects”, “estimates”, “assumes”, “intends”, “strategy”, “goals”, “objectives”, “schedule” or variations thereof or stating that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved, or the negative of any of these terms and similar expressions) are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements are made based upon certain assumptions by Stornoway or its consultants and other important factors that, if untrue, could cause the actual results, performances or achievements of Stornoway to be materially different from future results, performances or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Such statements and information are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business prospects and strategies and the environment in which Stornoway will operate in the future, including the price of diamonds, anticipated costs and Stornoway’s ability to achieve its goals, anticipated financial performance, regulatory developments, development plans, exploration, development and mining activities and commitments, and the foreign exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollars. Although management considers its assumptions on such matters to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect. Certain important assumptions by Stornoway or its consultants in making forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (i) required capital investment and estimated workforce requirements; (ii) estimates of net present value and internal rates of return; (iii) receipt of regulatory approval on acceptable terms within commonly experienced time frames; (iv) anticipated timelines for completion of construction, commencement of mine production and development of an open pit and underground mine at the Renard Diamond Project, which heavily depends, among other things, on adequate availability and performance of skilled labour, engineering and construction personnel, performance of mining and construction equipment and timely delivery of components; (v) anticipated geological formations; (vi) market prices for rough diamonds and the potential impact on the Renard Diamond Project; (vii) the satisfaction or waiver of all conditions under each of the Senior Secured Loan, the COF and the Equipment Facility to allow the Corporation to draw on the funding available under those financing elements for the completion of the development and construction of the Renard Diamond Project; (viii) Stornoway’s interpretation of the geological drill data collected and its potential impact on stated Mineral Resources and mine life; (ix) future exploration plans and objectives; (x) the Corporation’s ability to meet its delivery obligations under the Steaming Agreement; and (xi) the continued strength of the US dollar against the Canadian dollar. Additional risks are described in Stornoway’s most recently filed Annual Information Form, annual and interim MD&A, and other disclosure documents available under the Corporation’s profile at: www.sedar.com.
By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and risks exist that estimates, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not be achieved or that assumptions do not reflect future experience. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on these forward- looking statements as a number of important risk factors could cause the actual outcomes to differ materially from the beliefs, plans, objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates, assumptions and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements. These risk factors may be generally stated as the risk that the assumptions and estimates expressed above do not occur, including the assumption in many forward-looking statements that other forward-looking statements will be correct, but specifically include, without limitation: (i) risks relating to variations in the grade, kimberlite lithologies and country rock content within the material identified as Mineral Resources from that predicted; (ii) variations in rates of recovery and breakage; (iii) the uncertainty as to whether further exploration of exploration targets will result in the targets being delineated as Mineral Resources; (iv) developments in world diamond markets; (v) slower increases in diamond valuations than assumed; (vi) risks relating to fluctuations in the Canadian dollar and other currencies relative to the US dollar; (vii) increases in the costs of proposed capital and operating expenditures; (viii) increases in financing costs or adverse changes to the terms of available financing, if any; (ix) tax rates or royalties being greater than assumed; (x) uncertainty of results of exploration in areas of potential expansion of resources; (xi) changes in development or mining plans due to changes in other factors or exploration results; (xii) changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; (xiii) risks relating to the receipt of regulatory approval or the implementation of the existing Impact and Benefits Agreement with aboriginal communities; (xiv) the effects of competition in the markets in which Stornoway operates; (xv) operational and infrastructure risks; (xvi) execution risk relating to the development of an operating mine at the Renard Diamond Project; (xvii) failure to satisfy the conditions to the effectiveness, funding or availability, as the case may require, of each of the Stream, the Senior Secured Loan, the COF and the Equipment Facility; (xviii) changes in the terms of the Stream, the Senior Secured Loan, the COF or the Equipment Facility; (xix) the funds of the Stream, the Senior Secured Loan, the COF or the Equipment Facility not being available to the Corporation; (xx) the Corporation being unable to meet its delivery obligations under the Stream; (xxi) future sales or issuance of Common Shares lowering the Common Share price and diluting the interest of existing shareholders; and (xxi) the additional risks described in Stornoway’s most recently filed Annual Information Form, annual and interim MD&A and Stornoway’s anticipation of and success in managing the foregoing risks. Stornoway cautions that the foregoing list of factors that may affect future results is not exhaustive, and unforeseeable, new risks may arise from time to time.