Morien Provides Donkin Coal Project Update
March 18, 2013 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Morien Resources Corp. (“Morien” or the “Company”) (TSXV:MOX) today provides an update on the Xstrata sales process, the Environmental Assessment process, and recent results from a bulk sampling program at the Donkin Coal Project (“Donkin” or the “Project”) located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.
“Although the Xstrata sales process has stretched beyond the targeted date, we have been assured by Xstrata and the Province of Nova Scotia that all efforts are being made to bring the process to a rapid close. Morien continues to stand ready to take on a more active role with its potential partners should the Xstrata sale process fail to proceed to a favorable conclusion,” said John Budreski, CEO of Morien. “Recent tests confirm Donkin’s very high heat content, extremely low ash and favorable high-volatile coking characteristics, suggesting the product produced for both power generation and steel manufacturing will be very desirable. This quality, combined with the coal seam’s thickness and lateral continuity, the Projects existing infrastructure and close proximity to local thermal markets and a deep-water port, provide Donkin with strong advantages in today’s growing seaborne coal market.”
Bulk Sampling and Coal Analyses
Morien recently completed a bulk sampling program from the Harbour coal seam, the principal target seam at Donkin. Approximately 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) of sample material was extracted from a 3.45 metre thick section near the base of the main access tunnel. The sampling was carried out and supervised by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. A total of twenty two samples were collected on a ply-by-ply basis from the floor to the roof of the coal seam. Approximately 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of the bulk sample material was sent to SGS Laboratories in Kentucky and West Virginia for a comprehensive suite of tests to confirm thermal and coking coal qualities.
With this bulk sample, Morien wanted to assess the sulphur beneficiation opportunity and the resultant impact on other coal quality parameters and yield from utilizing a lower density laboratory separation. Out of seam dilution and wash plant efficiency were not considered. Clean coal analysis was performed on a low density laboratory separation of floats 1.30 g/cc material, producing a theoretical yield of 64%, on the full seam section. The June 2011 NI 43-101 pre-feasibility report, which can be found on SEDAR, employed a compilation of clean coal composite results from various working sections and separating densities between 1.40 g/cc and 1.60 g/cc with an average simulated yield of 81%.
As shown below, the coal quality results confirm that the Harbour coal seam will produce a very high energy and low ash product, with excellent high-volatile coking coal characteristics, and based on this sample, lower sulphur levels. All results below are on a washed clean coal, air dried basis.
- Calorific Value – The energy value of 14,580 BTU/lb (8,100 kcal/kg) is well above other coals and will be advantageous in pricing
- Ash – The low ash content of 3.5% is well below the ash content of competing coals and will attract a pricing premium
- Volatiles – A volatile matter content of 39% is within the typical range for high-volatile coking coals
- Sulphur – On a full seam basis, the bulk sample returned 2.54% total sulphur, which is less than the 3.0% previously reported under NI 43-101, but above the typical range for stand-alone thermal and coking coals. The elevated value establishes the use of Donkin coal in coal blends or in coal fired generation plants with desulphurization technology
- A central section of the coal seam measuring 2.35 metres (7.7 feet), that excludes the higher sulphur roof and floor, returned a reduced sulphur level of 2.09%
- CSN – With a crucible swelling number of 8, Donkin exhibits strong swelling properties consistent with benchmark premium hard coking coals
- Fluidity – High fluidity of greater than 20,000 dial divisions per minute (ddpm) facilitates Donkin’s use as a coke blend component with lower fluidity coals
- RoMax – Donkin’s reflectance value of 0.87% places it within the range for typical high-volatile semi hard coking coals
Environmental Assessment (CEAA) Process
The Project is nearing the end of a comprehensive study type environmental assessment by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). It is anticipated that a Comprehensive Study Report for the Project will be finalized and released for a 30-day public review period sometime early in Q2 2013, followed by announcements by the provincial and federal Ministers of the Environment of their respective environmental assessment decisions sometime in Q3 2013.
The Project has already received provincial environmental assessment approval in December 2008 for an underground delineation program using a continuous miner system to produce 2,000 tonnes per day of run of mine (“ROM”) coal for a two-year Feasibility period. The purpose of this program is to provide sufficient geological information, including subsea geology, coal quality and methane gas regime, to better assess the deposit and develop long-term mine plans.
According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia continues to use imported coal for electrical power generation, having imported 17.6 million tonnes (“Mt”) of thermal coal since 2005, which represents imports of more than 2 million tonnes per annum (“Mtpa”). The Province of Nova Scotia has projected that at least 40% of the province’s electricity will be generated using coal until 2020. In addition, thermal coal consumption in New Brunswick and the northeastern states provide additional markets for Donkin coal.
The Atlantic market, beyond the northeastern provinces and states is well suited for Donkin coal with its high heat content being used to offset declining heat content for thermal coals from Colombia and its transportation advantage providing a competitive edge in cost comparison with high-volatile Appalachian coal products into the European steel industry.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Energy Vision 2013, since 2003 demand for coal grew at ten times the rate of renewables, twice more than oil and three times more than gas. According to the International Energy Agency’s December 2012 Medium-Term Coal Market Report, coal will rival oil as the world’s top primary energy source by 2017.
The Atlantic Basin market is principally made up of importing countries in Western Europe, notably the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. In 2012, the US exported 12% more coal than the previous high set in 1981, with close to 50% going to Europe.
Although Western Europe and the Mediterranean region continue to be key end markets for Atlantic Basin seaborne coal, growing demand in China and India, together with low seaborne freight costs, have altered the structure of coal markets. More recently, the coal industry experienced significant supply disruptions due to heavy rains in Australia, Indonesia and Mozambique, as well as rail and labour issues in South Africa, New South Wales and Colombia.
It is anticipated that Donkin coal, with its high energy, low ash, and attractive coking coal properties, along with its low operating cost and close proximity to a ready, local market and a deep-water port, will favorably position the Project among the world’s coking and thermal coal producers.
Xstrata Donkin Sale Process
Morien’s 75% joint venture partner, Xstrata Coal Donkin Limited (“Xstrata”), announced on April 26, 2012 that it planned to sell its interest in the Donkin Project. Xstrata and Morien indicated that “During this process, the project timelines will be maintained with the planned completion of the environmental assessment, progression of engineering work and obtaining the necessary approvals for commencement of the underground exploration phase”. Xstrata had originally targeted the end of 2012 for completion of the transaction. However, as of the date of this press release, no public announcement of a prospective buyer has been made by Xstrata.
Morien has entered into discussions centered around the Xstrata sale and joining forces with an operator to act on its right of first refusal. Morien has a 60-day right-of-first-refusal to purchase Xstrata’s 75% interest in the Donkin Project should Xstrata accept an offer.
Indications from Xstrata suggest sale efforts are well advanced. If the process does not come to the accepted offer stage in the near term, the Company has requested that Xstrata initiate discussions with Morien to allow for a transition of the Project to a new operating team.
It is expected that the Xstrata sale process will result in the selection of a company with the mining experience, technical expertise and financial capability to operate the proposed Donkin underground mine safely and efficiently. Following a successful sale process and on completing the CEAA process, it is anticipated by Morien that it will take approximately three months to receive the necessary Provincial government approvals to begin tunnel refurbishment. It is also estimated by Morien that this work will take six to twelve months to complete, at which point a single continuous miner can produce first coal from the underground evaluation program.
The full Project proposal includes the construction and operation of an underground coal mine with a lifespan in excess of 30 years. The 2011 Marston Pre-feasibility report states that underground operations will include multiple continuous-miners producing approximately 3.6 Mtpa of ROM coal. A coal handling and processing plant capable of processing the ROM coal will be constructed to produce approximately 2.75 Mtpa of product coal suitable for international coking coal markets, as well as international and domestic thermal coal markets.
Michael MacDonald, P.Geo. (Nova Scotia), Vice President Technical and Government Affairs, is a Qualified Person as that term is defined in National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed and approved the technical information contained in this news release. All samples have been assayed at SGS Laboratory in Kentucky and West Virginia, USA.
Morien is a Canadian company engaged in resource development and its principal asset is a 25% interest in the Donkin Coal Project in Nova Scotia. Morien has 4,901,976 options outstanding and 49,256,240 issued and outstanding common shares. Further information is available at www.morienres.com.
This news release may contain forward looking statements based on assumptions and judgments from management regarding future events or results that may prove to be inaccurate as a result of exploration, development and other risk factors.
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For more information, please contact:
John P.A. Budreski, President and CEO
Phone: (416) 930-0914
Dawson Brisco, Manager Corporate Development
Phone: (902) 466-7255