First Point Minerals' Decar Project Successfully Produces High-Grade Ferronickel Directly from Awaruite Concentrate

First Point Minerals' Decar Project Successfully Produces High-Grade 
Ferronickel Directly from Awaruite Concentrate 
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 10/10/13 -- First
Point Minerals Corp. (TSX:FPX) ("First Point" or the "Company") is
pleased to announce the positive results of preliminary lab scale
test work, in which high-grade ferronickel was produced using
awaruite (nickel-iron alloy) concentrate from the Company's 40-%
owned Decar project ("Decar", or "the Project"). Decar, a nickel-iron
alloy project in central British Columbia, is 60%-owned and operated
by Cliffs Natural Resources Exploration Canada Inc., an affiliate of
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:CLF)(Paris:CLF) ("Cliffs"). 
High-grade ferronickel was successfully produced from Decar awaruite
concentrate samples by application of proven and widely-used
processes, thereby demonstrating potential amenability of Decar
products to processing in existing ferronickel plants. These results
represent a key advancement in demonstrating the potential for market
acceptance of the Project's concentrate. Test work completed to date
demonstrates that smelting Decar concentrates on a stand-alone basis,
with the addition of a reductant and fluxing agents, produces a
high-grade product of 35% - 50% nickel, comparing favourably to
typical ferronickel products containing 15% - 40% nickel. An
alternative process route mixing Decar concentrates with saprolite
ore at a pre-smelting, kiln reduction stage also gave positive
results, but these are more preliminary in nature. 
"These bench-scale results indicate the potential amenability of
Decar's nickel-iron-chromite concentrate to downstream processing
using conventional smelting technologies. This represents an
important step towards introduction into the market of this new
intermediate product derived from Decar or other awaruite deposits.
We are encouraged that the very high nickel recoveries achieved, 94%
to 99%-plus, for both a stand-alone awaruite concentrate and a mixed
awaruite-saprolite calcine, along with strong iron recoveries,
suggests the possibility of robust nickel and by-product payability
as awaruite-based concentrates gain traction in the marketplace,"
said Jim Gilbert, President and CEO of First Point. 
The Decar concentrate, as announced previously, is a
nickel-iron-chromite concentrate produced by magnetic separation of
awaruite-bearing material followed by gravity concentration. This
represents a new product to be sold into the ferronickel-to-stainless
steel production chain. As such, the testing program evaluating
smelting performance of the concentrate targeted two possible
treatment scenarios: 


 
--  Smelting of Decar awaruite concentrate into ferronickel on a stand-alone
    basis; and 
--  Blending Decar concentrate with saprolite ore in a kiln
    reduction/calcine smelting processing sequence. 

 
The latter is a process configuration currently in use in a variety
of ferronickel plants around the world. 
Stand-Alone Smelting Tests 
Five successful stand-alone smelting tests were undertaken, three on
concentrates produced in 2013 specifically for this testing program,
and two on concentrates originally prepared in 2011 to examine
magnetic-plus-gravity recovery (as reported on by First Point in July
2011). The 2011 concentrates provided the basis for the Preliminary
Economic Assessment ("PEA") of Decar completed in March 2013. (See
First Point news release of March 22, 2013.) In these five tests,
awaruite concentrate was premixed with varying combinations of a
reductant (anthracite coal) together with silica and magnesia fluxes,
placed in a crucible in a muffle furnace and smelted at conventional
temperatures (1600 degrees C) and for normal duration (1 hour). The
target nickel content of 50% was met for the ferronickel produced in
all tests on the 2013 concentrate, and in one of the two tests on
2011 concentrates. Target slag compositions were also achieved, with
the exception of one test. Nickel recoveries, ranging from 94% to
more than 99%, met or exceeded targets in all but one test, and iron
recoveries at 31% to 46% exceeded the target in each case. 
Smelting Tests Using Mixed Saprolite-Awaruite Calcines 
In these tests, an initial key objective was to determine whether or
not the awaruite concentrate would oxidize under kiln reduction
conditions; such oxidation would render the material unsuitable for
further processing in a conventional ferronickel furnace. The kiln
reduction tests demonstrated that the awaruite survived un-oxidized
through the process. 
Three successful follow-on smelting tests were conducted on the mixed
calcines, two in the same type of muffle furnace used in the
stand-alone tests, and one in an induction-type furnace. The
ferronickel buttons produced contained 17% to 19% nickel and 69% -
76% iron, versus targets of 20% nickel and 75% iron respectively,
with recoveries for nickel ranging from 95% to 99%, and for iron from
86% to 95%. The metallic product contained 1.4% to 1.9% chromium and
a relatively high carbon content of 1.8% to 2.6%, due to the elevated
carbon content of the mixed calcine feed. These results are more
preliminary than the stand-alone smelting tests, due to experimental
difficulties in the laboratory, but are regarded as encouraging. 
A further conclusion of this test work is that the Decar concentrate
will require some form of agglomeration or sintering, as the material
is too fine to be charged directly into conventional furnaces. This
work has not yet been undertaken, except to demonstrate that pressure
alone is insufficient to produce suitable briquettes. 
The lab scale test work was carried out for Cliffs by Process
Research ORTECH Inc., at its Sheridan Park, Ontario, facilities, on
samples ranging in size from 200 grams to 300 grams of awaruite
concentrate for the stand-alone smelting tests, and 2 kilograms of
awaruite concentrate for each of the mixed saprolite-awaruite kiln
reduction/calcine smelting tests. 
The table below presents a comparison of the specifications for the
ferronickel produced from Decar concentrates against the ISO standard
specifications and some selected ferronickel products currently in
the market. It should be noted that the phosphorous and sulphur
contents achieved in the Decar smelting tests are not outside the
norm of crude ferronickel. However, refining steps will be required
to reduce the level of these elements in the final ferronickel
product as typically practised in all ferronickel plants. 


 
Selected Ferronickel Product Specifications
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                      Sumitomo             
              Decar -       Decar -                      Metal       Eramet
Element   Stand-Alone         Mixed       ISO (1)    Mining (2) SLN 25(R)(2)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ni           35 - 52%      17 - 19%     15 - 80%  greater than     21 - 28%
                                                   or equal to             
                                                           16%             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fe            Balance       Balance      Balance       Balance      Balance
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
C        0.04 - 0.20%    1.8 - 2.6%     2.5% Max     less than   1.2 - 2.0%
                                                   or equal to             
                                                          3.0%             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
P        0.06 - 0.08%  0.03 - 0.04%    0.03% Max     less than       0.014%
                                                   or equal to             
                                                         0.05%             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
S         0.07 - 1.1%    0.4 - 0.8%    0.04% Max     less than        0.05%
                                                   or equal to             
                                                         0.03%             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cr       0.03 - 0.07%    1.4 - 1.9%     2.0% Max     less than        0.55%
                                                   or equal to             
                                                          2.5%             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
(1) ISO Norm "FeNi specification and delivery requirement". Source: Eramet
    Ni Research. 
(2) Source: Company websites. 

 
Dr. Raja Roy, P.Eng., a Senior Project Manager & Senior Process
Engineer at Process Research ORTECH and an independent Qualified
Person under NI 43-101, has reviewed and approved the metallurgical
content, while Dr. Peter Bradshaw, P.Eng., First Point's Qualified
Person under NI 43-101, has reviewed and approved the analytical
content of this news release. 
About First Point 
First Point Minerals Corp. is a Canadian base metal exploration
company operating worldwide. For more information, please view the
Company's website at www.firstpointminerals.com. 
On behalf of First Point Minerals Corp. 
Jim Gilbert, President and CEO 
Forward-Looking Statements 
Certain of the statements made and information contained herein is
considered "forward-looking information" within the meaning of
applicable Canadian securities laws. These statements address future
events and conditions and so involve inherent risks and
uncertainties, as disclosed in the Company's periodic filings with
Canadian securities regulators. Actual results could differ from
those currently projected. The Company does not assume the obligation
to update any forward-looking statement. 
Neither the TSX nor its Regulation Services Provider accepts
responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
Contacts:
First Point Minerals Corp.
Jim Gilbert
President and CEO
(604) 681-8600 
First Point Minerals Corp.
Rob Robertson
VP Corporate Development
(604) 681-8600
(604) 681-8799 (FAX)
info@firstpointminerals.com
www.firstpointminerals.com
 
 
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