VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – March 26, 2009) – Aura Minerals Inc. (“Aura Minerals” or the “Company”) (TSX:ORA) is very pleased to provide the following update on operations at its Aranzazu Project located in Zacatecas State, Mexico and its Arapiraca Project located in Alagoas State, Brazil.
The Company has received the final three holes targeting the recently discovered Calcocita zone (see News Release No. 2009-04 dated March 3, 2009). These holes were drilled from surface as a follow-up to hole UAZ-009, which intercepted 21 metres of 7.57% copper (“Cu”), 1.47 grams per tonne (“g/t”) gold (“Au”) and 38.70 g/t silver (“Ag”). Results from this most recent drilling confirm the high-grade mineralization and general continuity of this zone.
Highlights from these three holes in the Calcocita Zone include:
– Hole AZC-008 which returned 12.0 metres of 1.52% Cu, 1.17 g/t Au and 8.10 g/t Ag; followed by 24.0 metres of 1.94% Cu, 1.01 g/t Au and 13.80 g/t Ag; and a further 10.5 metres of 1.37% Cu, 0.43 g/t Au and 9.30 g/t Ag;
– Hole AZC-009 which returned 9.0 metres of 1.96% Cu, 0.76 g/t Au and 16.90 g/t Ag and a further 34.5 metres of 2.35% Cu, 1.98 g/t Au and 19.00 g/t Ag; and
– Hole AZC-013 which returned 30.0 metres of 2.07% Cu, 0.66 g/t Au and 18.00 g/t Ag.
Based on these results the Company is very confident that the Calcocita Zone will add significant tonnage of high-grade copper with excellent precious metals credits. Furthermore, any resources defined in the Calcocita Zone could be mined in the near term, as it is close to the existing mine adit. Therefore, the Company is mobilizing two drill rigs to site to rapidly advance the high-grade resources within the Calcocita, Arroyos Azules and BW zones into proven and probable reserves. Concurrent with this drilling, mine planning and costing continues towards a planned restart of operations at 3,000 tonnes-per-day (“tpd”) in early 2010. With these recent results and the recent favourable recovery in the copper price, the Company projects robust cash flow at cash operating costs significantly below US$1.00/lb of copper, including precious metal credits.
The Company also plans certain process plant upgrades to improve copper and precious metal recoveries based on results of recent metallurgical testwork at G&T Laboratories in Kelowna, B.C.
The Company has mobilized a diamond drill rig to site to commence drilling at the newly discovered Canaa target which is only 300 metres from the Serrote da Laje deposit (“Serrote Deposit”) (see News Release No. 2009-03 dated February 26, 2009).
This large target was discovered from a ground magnetic survey with follow-up soil geochemistry. First stage drilling is designed to intercept mineralization at the shallower portion of the target. If successful this could add to the overall Serrote Deposit resource and continue to extend the overall mine life beyond the current planned 12 years of operation.
Drilling is also planned at the Serrote Deposit to follow-up on the high-grade holes drilled late in 2008 near the centre of the deposit. The zone is still open to the east and west of these holes and drilling is planned to target these areas.
The final hole drilled at the Caboclo target in 2008 was the best to date. Hole CBCR-0071 returned 59.85 metres of 0.91% Cu, 0.25 g/t Au and 18.62% iron (“Fe”). The zone is open both down dip and along strike of this intercept and drilling is planned to test the mineralization in both directions.
Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”)
The PEA is progressing very well and is expected to be available in Q2 2009. To date, all flow sheets have been completed. Detailed plant site layout drawings to feasibility level were completed in 2008 and these have been used to finalize quantity take-offs together with data from geotechnical drilling and analysis. The new mine plan is almost complete based on the new larger resource and pit fleet selection and pit optimization are on-going.
Testwork to date has shown good recovery for copper and gold at an average of 83% and 58%, respectively. However, based on a detailed external review of this most recent work and of historical work completed by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (“Vale”), the Company believes that a copper recovery can be improved towards an average of 90% into a high-grade concentrate.
The first stage iron recovery testwork was also very successful with results showing an average of 92% recovery of the magnetite in the feed sample into an average of 65% magnetite concentrate with acceptable levels of impurities such as silica and Al2O3. Furthermore, the concentrate was deemed “very suitable” for pellet feed by the testwork consultants. The next stage of the testwork will be to further improve the iron grade in the magnetite concentrate and reduce impurities by a screening/floatation stage prior to final wet magnetite separation.
Based on current input costs for construction materials, such as for concrete, steel, plate and piping together with the devaluation of the Real against the dollar (currently 2.3:1 against 1.6:9 in 2008) the capital costs of the project have been reduced significantly and are expected to be well below the original estimate of US$500 million.
The operating costs have also benefited greatly from the Real devaluation and this should have a very positive impact on the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV) calculations.
Table 1 – Aranzazu Assays (see Map 1 below)
Azi- val Cu
muth Dip From To (1) (2) Au Ag
(degr- (degr- (met- (met- (met- (4) (3) (3)
Hole # North East ees) ees) res) res) res) (%) (g/t) (g/t)
AZC-008 253880 2724184 210 -55 114.0 126.0 12.0 1.52 1.17 8.10
AZC-008 253880 2724184 210 -55 151.5 162.0 10.5 0.96 0.54 8.90
AZC-008 253880 2724184 210 -55 186.0 210.0 24.0 1.94 1.01 13.80
AZC-008 253880 2724184 210 -55 216.0 226.5 10.5 1.37 0.43 9.30
AZC-008 253880 2724184 210 -55 243.0 247.5 4.5 1.46 0.35 5.50
AZC-009 253882 2724133 209 -55 117.0 121.5 4.5 1.00 0.21 7.40
AZC-009 253882 2724133 209 -55 129.0 135.0 6.0 0.93 0.18 8.30
AZC-009 253882 2724133 209 -55 142.5 151.5 9.0 1.96 0.76 16.90
AZC-009 253882 2724133 209 -55 157.5 192.0 34.5 2.35 1.98 19.00
AZC-013 253882 2724188 237 -48 118.5 121.5 3.0 0.75 0.25 1.20
AZC-013 253882 2724188 237 -48 328.5 358.5 30.0 2.07 0.66 18.00
(1) true width has yet to be determined
(2) using a copper cutoff grade 0.5%
(3) fire assay and atomic absorption finish
(4) atomic absorption
Quality Assurance and Quality Control (“QA/QC”) Procedures for the Arapiraca Project
The Company’s diamond drilling program at the Arapiraca Project is being conducted by Geosol Geologia e Sondagens Ltda. The core is measured, logged, photographed and then split in half using a core saw. Half the core is retained on-site in a secure storage facility and the other half is processed through the on-site sample preparation facility under the supervision of SGS Geosol Laboratorios Ltda. (“SGS Geosol”). The entire half-core is crushed and pulverized and 150 gram splits of this pulp are sent directly by SGS Geosol to their main ISO-accredited assay laboratory in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. At this laboratory, samples are analyzed by ICP multi-element analysis (35 elements are reported); Cu is additionally analysed by acid digestion and Atomic Absorption (“AA”) finish; Fe over 40% is assayed by X-Ray Refraction; and the gold, palladium and platinum content is determined by fire assay with an AA finish. Aura Minerals sends check samples to ALS Chemex and systematically puts certified standard samples and blank samples in all batches of samples sent to SGS Geosol as a means of quality control. Additionally, SGS Geosol has its own stringent internal QA/QC protocols. Chain of custody of drill samples is maintained throughout the process with the use of numbered seal tags closing sample bags and third party professional transportation of samples to the laboratories. Each stage of sample handling is recorded in log sheets and receipts obtained from each party involved.
Mr. Carlos H. Bertoni, M.Sc. & P.Geo., who is the Company’s Qualified Person, for the Arapiraca Project, as defined by National Instrument 43-101, has reviewed and approved the contents of this news release as applicable.
QA/QC Procedures for the Aranzazu Project
Prior to the suspension of exploration on December 10, 2008, the Company’s core and reverse circulation drilling program was conducted by Layne de Mexico. The reverse circulation drill used a bit sized from 5.5 inches to 4.75 inches. The core program utilized HQ-sized core and then stepping down to NQ-sized core as required. Samples were collected on a 1.5 metre sample interval. The reverse circulation drill cuttings are split at the drill rig. The samples collected consist of an approximate 25% split of the total material recovered from the interval sampled. This material is shipped directly to the Inspectorate America Corp. (“Inspectorate”) facility in Durango, Mexico and processed utilizing the same sample preparation protocol as used for the core samples discussed below. Assays were completed at the Inspectorate laboratory in Reno, Nevada. Diamond drilling core is logged, photographed and then split in half using a diamond core saw. Half the core is retained off-site in a secure storage facility and the other half is sampled, secured in sealed, labelled bags and then transported to the Inspectorate facility in Durango, Mexico and processed utilizing the same preparation protocol discussed below. Assays were completed at the Inspectorate laboratory in Reno, Nevada. The entire half-core and reverse circulation drill cuttings are crushed to 95% passing 2 millimetres, split and pulverized to 95% passing 150 mesh, split again, and a 150 gram sample sent for assay. Gold assays are determined by fire assay with an AA finish, over limit assays are determined by fire assay with a gravimetric finish. Silver assays are determined by three acid digestion with an AA finish, over limits are determined by fire assay with a gravimetric finish. All samples are analyzed by inductively coupled plasma emission spectrography for multi-element analysis and by AA for copper. The Company systematically inserts certified standard samples, sample duplicates in a non-sequential order and blank samples in all batches of samples sent to Inspectorate as a means of quality control. Additionally, Inspectorate has its own stringent internal QA/QC protocols. Check samples are systematically sent to the ALS Chemex lab in Vancouver, Canada. Chain of custody of drill samples is maintained throughout the process with the use of numbered seal tags closing sample bags and third party professional transportation of samples to the laboratories. Each stage of sample handling is recorded in log sheets and receipts obtained from each party involved.
Mr. Anthony P. George, B.Sc.(Hons), P.Eng., who is the Company’s Qualified Person, for the Aranzazu Project, as defined by NI 43-101 has reviewed and approved the contents of this news release as applicable.
About Aura Minerals Inc.
Aura Minerals is a Canadian resource company focused on the acquisition, exploration and development of mining properties in the Americas. In addition to the Company’s Aranzazu copper mine in Mexico, the Company owns the advanced stage Arapiraca Project in north-eastern Brazil, which was originally explored in the 1980’s and 1990’s for copper and gold and includes the Serrote Deposit. The project also contains magnetite (up to 50%) and nickel and the Company plans to evaluate the Arapiraca Project for all four metals which can be readily extracted. The nearby infrastructure is excellent with ready access to electricity, water and shipping ports.
This news release contains forward-looking statements that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, prospects and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements include those risks set out in Aura Minerals’ public documents filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Although Aura Minerals believes that the assumptions and factors used in preparing the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which only apply as of the date of this news release, and no assurance can be given that such events will occur in the disclosed time frames or at all. Aura Minerals disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
To view Map 1 accompanying this press release, please click on the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/ora326.pdf
No stock exchange, securities commission or other regulatory authority has approved or disapproved the information contained herein.
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