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TVI Pacific Inc. Announces First Nickel Production from Pilot Plant

TSX: TVI  OTCQX: TVIPF

CALGARY, March 17, 2014 /CNW/ - TVI Pacific Inc. (TSX:TVI) (OTCQX:TVIPF) ("TVI" or "the Company") and its Philippine operating affiliate, TVI Resource Development (Phils.), Inc. ("TVIRD"), are pleased to announce the first nickel production from their pilot plant at Intertek Minerals Philippines in Manila.

Highlights:

  • A Nickel Hydroxide Product (NHP) filter cake was produced from TVIRD's pilot plant on February 7th, 2014 with a 52% to 54% Ni grade.
  • NHP impurities such as Fe, Ca and Mg are low, thereby resulting in a versatile refined intermediate nickel product that may be directly processed to nickel oxide or nickel metal with no further refining required.
  • Prior to NHP production, 8,000L of Fe and Ni rich Pregnant Leach Solution ("PLS") was purified via TVIRD's continuous counter-current ion exchange ("IX") pilot plant, successfully validating the viability of this IX purification process as well as establishing all design parameters for full-scale plant design.
  • IX Ni recovery from PLS to eluate was 99.3%.

As reported in the TVI news release of October 17th, 2013, positive results were received from the pilot plant at the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy ("BGRIMM"), marking at that time another key step forward for the Agata North project, located in the mining district of Agusan in northern Mindanao.  These tests were designed to confirm and optimize the crushing, scrubbing, screening, milling, leaching and solution recovery circuit configuration. In particular, the test work focused on validating the leaching process developed by TVIRD.  The BGRIMM pilot plant highlighted the following:

  • Optimal ore blend and the crushability and scrub-ability of blended ore confirmed.
  • Pre-leach thickener design parameters and sizing confirmed.
  • Screen cut-size for optimal split of fresh ore to primary and secondary leach stages confirmed.
  • Optimal leaching conditions for the Fe-rich primary leaching stage and the secondary leaching stage determined.
  • Overall Ni leaching extraction of 94% achieved.
  • Overall acid consumption of 650 kg acid/t ore achieved.
  • Counter-current Decantation ("CCD") solution recovery thickener design parameters and sizing confirmed. 8,000L of PLS was recovered from this stage and shipped to TVIRD's pilot plant in Manila for further purification and NHP production.
  • Washed residue neutralisation circuit configuration and lime consumption confirmed.
  • Washed and neutralised residue filtration design parameters and sizing confirmed.

TVI announced also at that time that it had installed and commissioned a continuously operating pilot plant at its metallurgical laboratory in the Philippines, comprising Ni solution purification, Ni precipitation to produce NHP containing slurry and NHP washing and filtration to produce final NHP filter cake product (50-53% Ni).

8,000L of PLS was received at the TVIRD pilot plant from the BGRIMM pilot plant comprising crushing, scrubbing, screening, milling, leaching and solution recovery unit operations. The PLS was then processed in the TVIRD pilot plant as follows:

  • All 8,000 L of PLS was purified and the Ni concentration was increased by using the continuous counter-current IX process developed by TVIRD. Ni recovery to eluate was 99.3%.
  • The acid content of the IX eluate was then neutralized and the acid free eluate separated from the solid gypsum through a thickening stage and Ni then precipitated from this.  After a 2nd precipitation stage, >99% of Ni in solution was precipitated.
  • To ensure high product purity, the Ni product was harvested from the 1st Ni precipitation stage. Ni rich slurry from the 1st Ni precipitation stage was thickened and a portion of the thickener underflow stream recycled as seed to the feed of the 1st stage Ni precipitation, while the remainder was washed and filtered, thereby constituting the final NHP product.
  • NHP filter cake was successfully produced February 7th, 2014 with a 52% to 54% Ni grade at the TVIRD pilot plant. Impurities such as Fe, Ca and Mg are low enough for the NHP to be considered a refined intermediate product. This implies that NHP may be converted to nickel oxide and nickel metal without the need for additional refining, thereby offering possible offtakers with a versatile product alternative.

In addition to the TVIRD pilot plant unit operations described above, BGRIMM also produced a Mixed Hydroxide Product ("MHP") containing an average of 36% nickel and testing has shown it is possible to produce an MHP containing >40% Ni if a 2-stage precipitation circuit is used.  The successful testing now at the TVIRD pilot plant and the production of NHP will allow a comparison of processes and products to enable the selection of a final process route as part of the Bankable Feasibility Study that is currently underway.

"The pilot tests confirm the viability of a two-stage atmospheric leach process in producing NHP containing about 50% Ni or a MHP containing some iron", said Jake Foronda, Vice-President of Operations.  The executive also explained that TVIRD chose the hybrid atmospheric/low pressure autoclave leaching process because it is more suitable to saprolites typical of the Agata laterites and significantly lower in required capital investment as compared to High Pressure Leaching ("HPAL"), which is more suitable for ore with high iron content.

The TVIRD pilot plant has already processed all of the 8,000L of PLS received from BGRIMM. NHP produced will be characterised by a 3rd party facility, and a NHP specification sheet will be developed. NHP, together with the specification sheet, will be sent to potential offtakers for evaluation.

The final stage of pilot plant operation will comprise of treatment of the barren solution from the IX plant to produce an effluent that is acceptable for disposal as well as ecological tests for residues.

TVI Pacific Chairman, President & CEO, Cliff M. James, said this is another significant milestone that has allowed us to successfully validate both production and cost efficiencies of our process, adding that the technical program is on track to provide metallurgical data required to design the proposed full-scale pilot plant.

TVI and Mindoro Joint Venture

TVI and Mindoro Resources (TSXv:MIO) have signed four joint venture agreements, previously announced on October 1, 2012, relating to the Agata and Pan de Azucar mining projects located in the Philippines on the islands of Mindanao and Panay, respectively.  The joint ventures present TVI with multiple growth opportunities for near-term and medium-term cash flow generating potential. Under the agreements TVI's Philippine affiliate, TVIRD has the ability to earn up to a 60% interest and will act as operator of the projects.

Mining Project Opportunities within the Agata Tenement

  • a near-term high iron (Fe) laterite direct shipping ore ("DSO") operation;
  • a near-term limestone DSO operation;
  • a medium-term lime production facility; and
  • a medium-term nickel processing plant project.

Prior extensive pre-feasibility and engineering works have been conducted on the Mindoro properties. These reports can be accessed on Mindoro's website at www.mindoro.com or on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

TVI Pacific Inc. has filed an updated National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") technical report on the Agata Project on April 10, 2013. The NI 43-101 technical report is available on SEDAR and on TVI's website.  In addition, in a news release issued by TVI on September 10th, 2013, TVI shared details of a NI 43-101 compliant Feasibility Study indicating robust economics for a DSO operation of the high iron laterite resources at the Agata Project.

Qualified Person

Jake Foronda, Vice-President of Operations of TVIRD, Member AusIMM, is the qualified person under NI 43-101 who has approved the scientific and technical information in this news release.

Mr. Foronda is supported in his role by Mr. Vincent Smith, M.Sc. Chemical Eng., Project Metallurgist, who has over 20 years of experience in metallurgical process development, operations and design across 50 mine sites encompassing 15 countries and was previously the Group Technology Manager for ENK.  In his role with ENK, Mr. Smith was responsible for all aspects of ENK's process technology development, viz. bench and pilot scale testing, flow-sheet development and process design for heap and atmospheric tank leaching of nickel laterite ore, as well as downstream recovery and purification of nickel and cobalt from the resulting pregnant leach solution. Additionally, Mr. Smith was responsible for the process plant technology and capital costing package that formed an integral part of ENK's Bankable Feasibility Study for the Acoje nickel laterite project in the Philippines.

Other Updates

TVI has completed Phase 1 of the Amazon Bay Joint Venture providing exploration funding of A$2 million and has earned a 10% interest in the Amazon Bay Mineral Sands Project ("AB") located in Papua New Gunea ("PNG").  TVI first announced the signing of subscription agreements and joint venture agreements with Foyson Resources Limited ("Foyson") in a news release August 28th, 2012, and currently holds 15.51% interest in Foyson, an Australian Securities Exchange ("ASX") listed issuer (ASX:FOY), in addition to its earned interest in AB.  The AB project includes an iron/vanadium/titanium-rich area and Foyson has recently reported they are encouraged by the continued strong government support in Papua New Guinea ("PNG"), as well as the overwhelming support of the local landowners.

Further also to the TVI news release of January 10th, 2014, in which TVI announced it had completed a further closing of various investment and financing transactions involving Prime Resource Holdings, Inc. ("PRHI"), TVI continues to work toward the final close that will result in TVI receiving total proceeds of US $10.650 million and US $11.850 million for TVIRD and various subsidiaries, each before tax and related fees.  After giving effect to all transactions as outlined in TVI news releases of December 11th, 2013 and December 13th, 2013, PRHI will hold approximately 5% of the total number of issued and outstanding common shares of TVI and 68.42% of the total number of outstanding voting shares of TVIRD, while TVI will continue to indirectly hold 30.66% of the issued and outstanding shares of TVIRD, its investment in shares of Mindoro Resources Ltd. and Foyson Resources Limited, further earning rights in the Amazon Bay project (PNG); and its investment in shares of TG World Energy Corp.

About TVI Pacific Inc.

TVI Pacific Inc. is a Canadian resource company focused on the production, development, exploration and acquisition of resource projects in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.  TVI's affiliate, TVIRD, has to date produced copper and zinc concentrates from its Canatuan mine and is advancing its Balabag Gold-Silver project and its Agata Nickel DSO operation.  TVI is a direct or indirect participant/operator in several joint venture projects in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea and also has an interest in an offshore Philippine oil property.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange has neither approved nor disapproved of the information contained herein.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Forward-Looking Statements: This news release contains certain forward-looking information (referred to herein as "forward-looking statements"). Forward-looking statements are often, but not always, identified by the use of words such as "anticipate", "plan", "intend", "estimate", "scheduled", "expect", "may", "will", "should", or similar words suggesting future activities or outcomes. The forward-looking statements set out in this news release include information relating to interests that may be earned by TVIRD in the Agata and Pan de Azucar joint ventures; opportunities for exploration, development and commercialization of the Agata Mining Project (including the High Fe and Limestone DSO/Lime Production Facility and the Agata Nickel Processing Plant).  This news release also includes forward-looking statements respecting certain transactions provided for in definitive agreements entered into with PRHI (the "Transactions") and are based upon the terms of these definitive agreements. 

Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or outcomes to differ materially from those anticipated or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Those risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to:  (A) results of further work in pursuing the conceptual planning described in this news release not supporting current expectations as to the opportunities outlined; (B) TVIRD not funding the necessary expenditures at Agata or Pan de Azucar to advance the projects or earn an interest under the joint venture agreements due to, among other things (i) changes in TVIRD's strategic priorities, due diligence findings, changes in laws or regulations affecting mining operations in the Philippines (including the profitability of such operations), and other factors, (ii) changes in TVIRD budgets and (iii) limited availability of funds; (C) a determination on the part of TVIRD not to pursue projects contemplated by one or more of the joint venture agreements noted above for technical, economic, legal or other reasons (including, without limitation, a failure to obtain required permits or other governmental or regulatory approvals);  and (D) certain other risks identified elsewhere in TVI's public filings, including, without limitation, those risk factors set forth at pp. 46-52 of TVI's Annual Information Form dated  March 19, 2013.  With respect to the Transactions, those risks and uncertainties include a failure to close one or more of the Transactions on the terms outlined in the definitive agreements entered into with PRHI due to the failure to satisfy one or more conditions, such as conditions relating to the receipt of any necessary corporate or regulatory approvals.  Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance upon the forward-looking statements contained in this news release and such forward-looking statements should not be interpreted or regarded as guarantees of future outcomes.

The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as of the date hereof and TVI does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable Canadian securities law. The forward-looking statements contained herein are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.

 

SOURCE TVI Pacific Inc.

Image with caption: "TVIRD's first NHP 'cake' was produced during the Agata Pilot Plant test at Intertek Minerals Philippines and achieved the expected 52% to 54% nickel grade. (CNW Group/TVI Pacific Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140317_C5358_PHOTO_EN_37966.jpg

Image with caption: "Pilot Plant Metallurgist Vito Andada demonstrates the production of NHP from a filter press at the Agata Nickel Project pilot plant in Intertek Minerals Philippines. (CNW Group/TVI Pacific Inc.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140317_C5358_PHOTO_EN_37967.jpg

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