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True North Gems Announces Positive Update to Aappaluttoq Pre-Feasibility Study

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 25, 2015) - True North Gems Inc. (TSX VENTURE:TGX) ("True North" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the results of the updated pre-feasibility study ("PFS") on the Aappaluttoq Ruby and Pink Sapphire Project in Southwest Greenland. True North contracted Tetra Tech of Vancouver as independent engineers to review the project and complete the update.

Key financial and project highlights of the Aappaluttoq PFS are as follows:

  Aappaluttoq Ruby Project   Production results     Units  
  Tonne processed     190     Tonnes (Thousands )
  Waste rock mined     2,969     Tonnes (Thousands )
  Stripping ratio     16     N/A  
Mine operational years (starting 2015)     9     Years
  Total corundum recovered from mine site     52.7     Grams Millions  
  Rough gemstones recovered from operations     17.5     Grams Millions  
  Average Ruby and Pink Sapphire Price: US$ pct.1   $ 7     US$ per ct. (rough )
  Estimated revenue   $ 573     US$ Million  
  Economic scenario results   Project Economics5        
  All in cash cost per equivalent carat recovered2   $ 3     US$ per ct. (rough )
  Total Operating costs   $ 94     US$ Million  
  Total Project Capital cost (Initial and sustaining)3,4   $ 25     US$ Million  
  Total Sustaining Capital cost   $ 5     US$ Million  
  Total Pre-tax cash flow from operations   $ 452     US$ Million  
  Total Post tax cash flow   $ 282     US$ Million  
  Pre-tax NPV at 8% real discount rate   $ 275     US$ Million  
  Post-tax NPV at 8% real discount rate   $ 171     US$ Million  
  Post-tax IRR %     122 %      
  Post tax payback period     1.8     Years  
Notes:
1. The average price utilizes gem and near-gem material only; sale of commercial grade corundum has not been included in this PFS. Price forecasts are inclusive of 2.5% annual escalation from the average 2015 price over the life of the mine, this escalation is based on a conservative estimate of the long term supply-demand balance in the coloured gemstone market.
2. All- in-cash costs include the capital, operating, taxes and royalties projected on a per rough carat produced basis.
3. This figure includes the investment that LNSG have made of US$14 million in True North Gems Greenland (TNGG) through an agreement whereby LNSG earns 27% shareholding of TNGG through investment and construction of project infrastructure at Aappaluttoq. Tetra Tech has estimated that the contribution by LNSG reduces upfront capital by an equivalent of US$17 million, with the remaining US$8 million in capital contributed by TNG.
4. Estimated capital cost includes 4% contingency, varying between 0% for quoted items currently in construction and 30% for equipment for which bids have not yet been received.
5. US$ to CAD$ used through the PFS is US$1 to CAD$1.24.

Key financial and project highlights of the Aappaluttoq PFS for True North Gems are as follows:

  Economic scenario results   TNG     Units  
  All in cash cost per equivalent carat recovered1   $ 3     US$ per ct. (rough )
  Total Operating costs2   $ 109     US$ Million  
  Total Capital cost   $ 8     US$ Million  
  Total Sustaining Capital cost   $ 5     US$ Million  
  Total Pre-tax cash flow from operations   $ 454     US$ Million  
  Post tax cash flow   $ 287     US$ Million  
  Pre-tax NPV at 8% real discount rate   $ 281     US$ Million  
  Post-tax NPV at 8% real discount rate   $ 179     US$ Million  
    TNG Post-tax NPV at 8% real discount rate3   $ 125     US$ Million  
  Post-tax TNG IRR %     485 %      
  Post tax payback period     1.1     Years  
Notes:
1. All- in-cash costs include the capital, operating, taxes and royalties projected on a per rough carat produced basis.
2. Inclusive of lease payments.
3. NPV solely for TNG interest in the project

"The Company is extremely pleased with the completion of this pre-feasibility study and the strong economic findings. It confirms our long-held confidence in the Aappaluttoq Project and its potential to be developed successfully into long term sustainable profitable operation delivering lasting benefits to the people of Greenland our shareholders and the international gemstone markets." stated Nicholas Houghton, President and CEO of True North Gems.

Resources and Reserves:

The current resource for the Aappaluttoq Deposit was issued on 1st June, 2011. No further in-ground geological development work has occurred since then, thus the resource is still current and actively utilized within the updated pre-feasibility study. The tables below summarize the Mineral Resources and probable open-pit Mineral Reserves for the Aappaluttoq Project. The Mineral Reserves account for the anticipated mining recovery and dilution and a lower cut-off size of 1.7mm, which is utilized throughout the resource and plant design. Mineral Resources are reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves.

Aappaluttoq Mineral Resources

  Category   Volume   Tonnage (1)     Average Grade (2,3)   Average Grade (2,3,4)   Contained Corundum (2,3)   Contained Corundum (2,3,4)
      m3   Tonnes     Grams/Tonne   Carats/Tonne   Grams million   Carats million
  Indicated   59,110   189,150     313.33   1,566.65   59.27   296.33
  Inferred   24,110   77,160     283.46   1,417.28   21.87   109.35
Notes:
  (1) Densities are derived from specific gravity measurements of host lithologies and estimated for host zone based on specific gravity of corundum and average grade
  (2) Based on a Total Clean Corundum grades greater than 1.7 mm size fraction from mineralogical lab analysis
  (3) Top cut grade of 7,325 grams per tonne (97.5 percentile), and a lower cut-off grade of 1 gram per tonne
  (4) One gram equals five carats

Aappaluttoq Probable Open Pit Mineral Reserves

  Category   Tonnage   Average Grade   Contained corundum above 1.7mm
      Thousand tonnes   Grams/tonne   Grams Million
  Total probable mineral reserves for mining(1)   167   339   57
  Mill feed after dilution and mining losses(2)   190   292   55
Notes:
  (1) All corundum containing indicated resources within the open pit as designed, intended for mill feed
  (2) Resulting mill feed including waste dilution due to mining method of an estimated 19% and mining loss of 4.5%

Capital and Operating Cost:

The primary capital development cost for the project including initial and sustaining has been estimated at US$25 million which includes construction of the project port, roads, helipads, mine camp, security, processing facility and workshop. This represents a significant reduction of approximately US$15 million over the 2011 Prefeasibility study that has been accomplished by utilizing a Greenlandic partner experienced in arctic construction, as well as designing a corundum recovery plant with a lower capital requirement, and contributing EPCM within the Company's experienced Nuuk operations team. As part of the LNS-Greenland joint venture agreement (see news releases: 13th August 2013 and 11th September 2014) the majority of the capital costs will be assumed by LNS-Greenland in exchange for a final earn of 27% ownership of True North Gems Greenland A/S (TNGG), the subsidiary of True North Gem Inc. The Company is expected to contribute US$8 million of the total capital expenditure; these expenses include the processing plant equipment, Nuuk HF secondary cleaning facility, corporate in-country headquarters and the gem sorting and grading facility. The operating expenditure includes negotiated fixed lease payments to LNS-Greenland for certain site buildings and other estimated costs using quotes provided by LNS-Greenland and verified by TetraTech.

The LNS joint venture will provide all mining and service equipment for the mining project this equipment includes; three haul trucks, three excavators, three front end loaders and various service and small vehicles that will be leased over the current life of mine.

Mining and Corundum Recovery:

The study contemplates the development of an open pit mine to extract the probable Mineral Resources using conventional mining equipment. The mined ore will be transported to an adjacent process facility where it will be concentrated using an iterative crushing, dense media separation and optical sorting circuit to extract a rough corundum concentrate. This initial rough concentrates will be shipped to a secondary processing facility for the removal of any remaining rock matrix prior to ruby and pink sapphire grading. A lower cut-off size in the design has been established at 1.7 mm, which is nominally larger than the minimum size of gemstone rough supplied for commercial polishing.

Ruby and Pink Sapphire Rough Values:

The ruby and pink sapphire values were recently completed using the average offer to purchase submitted by independent international buyers of coloured gemstones after viewing the various categories of rough material. In addition, GemWorld completed their own independent evaluation of polished ruby and pink sapphire pricing across all categories as a window on the polished market. The Company is expected to primarily sell rough but a certain component of polished will also be sold and is incorporated into the financial analysis. No value has been attributed for the recovery of any opaque non-gem material. All valuation information was reviewed by Tetra Tech to ensure it was properly incorporated into the financial analysis.

Other opportunities include:

  • Upgrade of inferred resources to indicated: The resource estimate identifies 77,200 tonnes of inferred resource with a grade of 283 grams per tonne of total clean corundum. In accordance with NI 43-101 standards 66,000 tonnes of the inferred resource falls within the designed pit shell but is not included as ore in the study.
  • Increasing mine life and/or throughput: The deposit remains open along strike in both directions and to depth, indicating potential for increased throughput and/or a longer life operation. The processing plant is designed for additional capacity.
  • Development of nearby targets-for-further-exploration which host gem corundum at surface and lie within 10km of the Aappaluttoq site - including Siggartartulik and Kigutilik both of which are within the Companys licence area.

The Company will issue the final technical report quoted in this release for the Aappaluttoq ruby project within 45 days as required by NI 43-101, this will update the previous technical report filed on 1 June, 2011. TetraTech relied on information provided by several other contributors including:

  • Novus Engineering of Vancouver: Process plant engineering and metallurgical testing;
  • GemWorld International of Chicago: Ruby and Sapphire market analysis;
  • Independent and confidential valuations of rough ruby and pink sapphire;
  • LNS Group of Norway: Construction costs, Greenland logistics and Operating estimates;
  • Rambøll of Denmark: environmental baseline studies, monitoring and Environmental Impact Assessment;
  • Grontmij of Denmark: Socioeconomic impact assessment;
  • InuPlan A/S of Nuuk: Mine environmental monitoring program and extended EIA baseline study;

In accordance with NI 43-101, Mark Horan, P.Eng. and Lara Reggin, P.Geo. of TetraTech-EBA are the independent Qualified Persons responsible for the technical information in this news release. Mr. Horan and Ms. Reggin have reviewed this release and approved its contents.

This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities in the United States. The securities have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "U.S. Securities Act") or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold within the United States or to U.S. Persons unless registered under the U.S. Securities Act and applicable state securities laws or an exemption from such registration is available.

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.

This document contains "forward-looking information" and "forward-looking statements" (together, "forward-looking statements") within the meaning of applicable securities legislation, which are made as of the date of this document or the document(s) referred to herein. Statements that express 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", "intends", "strategy", "goals", "objectives" 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 include, without limitation, statements with respect to: the amount of mineral reserves and mineral resources; the amount of future production over any period; net present value and internal rates of return of the proposed mining operation; capital costs; operating costs; strip ratios and mining rates; and mine life. The forward-looking statements are made based upon certain assumptions which, if untrue, could cause the actual results, performances or achievements of the Company to be materially different from future results, performances or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

These assumptions include, without limitation: the price of gemstone products produced; anticipated costs; the presence of and continuity of gemstones at modeled grades and values; the capacities of various machinery and equipment; the availability of personnel, machinery and equipment at estimated prices; exchange rates; appropriate discount rates; tax rates applicable to the proposed mining operation; financing structure and costs; anticipated mining losses and dilution; gemstone recovery rates; reasonable contingency requirements; and receipt of regulatory approvals on acceptable terms. By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performances or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. These include, without limitation: price volatility, discrepancies between actual and estimated production, mineral reserves and resources and metallurgical recoveries, mining operational and development risks, regulatory restrictions (including environmental regulatory restrictions and liability), activities by governmental authorities (including changes in taxation), currency fluctuations, the speculative nature of gemstone exploration, the global economic climate, dilution, share price volatility, competition, loss of key employees; additional funding requirements and defective title to mineral claims or property]. This list is not exhaustive. See also, for example, the risks disclosed in the Company's other disclosure documents filed at www.sedar.com, including, without limitation, those disclosed in the Company's management's discussion & analysis. The Company expressly disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, except as otherwise required by applicable securities legislation.

 


True North Gems Inc.
Nicholas Houghton
President and CEO
604-687-8055

True North Gems Inc.
Stephanie Delaney
Corporate Coordinator
604-687-8055
info@truenorthgems.com
www.truenorthgems.com