Niblack Supports As Heatherdale Explores Niblack Project Partnership Opportunities In Southeast Alaska
December 1, 2011, Vancouver, BC – Niblack Mineral Development Inc. (“Niblack” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: NIB) supports Heatherdale as they continue to advance its high-grade volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) mine development opportunity at the Niblack Project on southeast Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island, including through ongoing engagements with community and political leaders, Alaska Native tribes and corporate entities, and other prospective business partners in the state.
“Our efforts to expand known deposits of high-grade VMS mineralization at Niblack and prepare the project for development and permitting continue to receive widespread support and encouragement from the people, communities and institutions of southeast Alaska,” confirmed Heatherdale President & CEO Pat Smith. “Southeast Alaskans want and encourage responsible development of their mineral resources, and are willing to work cooperatively with progressive companies that invest in programs that generate benefits for local communities while ensuring protection of valued natural resources. It is a very encouraging and supportive environment for Heatherdale and the Niblack Project.”
Smith noted that Heatherdale has received vocal and bi-partisan support from some of Alaska’s leading political figures. The vast majority of southeast Alaska legislators from both sides of the aisle have visited the Niblack property in 2011. Both Alaska Governor Sean Parnell (R) and US Senator Mark Begich (D) have had occasion to speak out in support of Heatherdale and the Niblack Project this year.
Sen. Begich wrote a letter in July 2011 supporting the responsible development of the Niblack Project and urging the US Forest Service to make all reasonable efforts to ensure timely permitting of Heatherdale’s proposed surface exploration drilling program. Meanwhile, at an October 2011 minerals conference in Fairbanks, Gov. Parnell spoke expansively about Heatherdale and Niblack: “Heatherdale is spending $1.2 million in the economy every month, for groceries, fuel, and training. Thirty-five people are working….Now it may seem small in scale, but there’s a tremendous sense of optimism both in the miners and the management team. Niblack…illustrates an important point: in southeast Alaska, where the federal government has decimated timber jobs, the private sector is establishing a beachhead of opportunity for new jobs.”
Heatherdale is pursuing partnership opportunities with a range of southeast Alaska institutions, corporate entities and Native organizations related to the provision of power to the future Niblack mine. As a member of the Southeast Conference, the Company has worked with a range of local government and private entities to ensure that its future energy requirements are reflected in the Southeast Integrated Resource Plan. Heatherdale has also engaged with the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), which regularly provides financing to public-private partnerships to facilitate infrastructure development and economic growth in the state.
In addition to power alternatives, Heatherdale is also investigating options for siting ore processing facilities, including the option of barging ore from Niblack to a suitable offsite location. Several regional institutions and public entities in southeast Alaska are actively working with Heatherdale as it seeks to identify candidate sites with suitable topography, and access to hydroelectric power, tidewater, and a commuter workforce.
“While it’s early days, we believe Niblack will require the provision of some 3.5 megawatts of power to operate a 1,500 to 2,000 ton-per-day underground mine, and another 8 megawatts to operate a mill and processing plant,” Smith said. “The final identification, permitting, development and realization of these facilities and services will take a number of years to accomplish, but we already have an impressive suite of local entities and institutions who are working collaboratively with us to identify the optimum solutions.”
Smith said Heatherdale’s efforts to identify sites that meet specific criteria for development of a processing plant and tailings storage facility for the Niblack Project have been met with positive encouragement from a broad range of local entities. He expressed confidence that offsite milling is a viable option for Niblack, particularly given the proactive assistance being provided by state and regional institutions.
“To the greatest degree possible, we want the Niblack Project to benefit the people and communities of Southeast Alaska,” Smith said. “Since day one, the priority at Niblack has been to employ local people, contract local companies and pursue local partnerships. We have every expectation that the attention we’ve paid to being a good neighbor now will be acknowledged in the future as the Niblack Project proceeds through permitting and into construction and operations.”
Heatherdale has made a strong effort in 2011 to meet with and provide status reports to community, tribal and Alaska Native corporation leaders from all of the island’s main communities – including Craig, Klawock, Kasaan and Hydaburg. Since the outset of its involvement with Niblack in 2009, the Company has maintained a significant commercial partnership with the Prince of Wales Tribal Enterprise Consortium (POWTEC LLC) – an on-island limited liability company owned by the Craig Tribal Association and the Organized Village of Kasaan – for the provision of Human Resources recruitment and administrative services. Through POWTEC, Heatherdale has trained and employed some 36 local people over the past three years.
“From the outset, Heatherdale has made it clear that it wants its mineral development activities on Prince of Wales Island to benefit local people and communities through local hire and contracting,” said POWTEC CEO Bill Cole. “We’ve been pleased to be a significant partner with them in achieving that goal during the project development phase, and we look forward to the day when Niblack advances to construction and operations. The economic development and partnership opportunities that this project represents for our company, our employees and shareholders, and all of southeast Alaska, are really tremendous.”
Niblack’s location at tidewater on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska presents a number of project benefits, including year-round marine access, a well-trained labor force, a mature supply and service sector, proximity to Asian markets, and the support of community and Alaska Native corporation partners. The project is located 27 miles (44 kilometres) from Ketchikan, a community of 8,000 people with important services to support project development, including a deep-water port and international airport. The State’s burgeoning minerals industry also enjoys a competitive tax regime and stable, predictable permitting and regulatory oversight coordinated by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ ‘Large Mine Permitting Team.’ For reference, Hecla’s Greens Creek mine, a 2,100 ton-per-day underground operation, operates 225 miles (370 kilometres) to the northwest of Niblack on Admiralty Island.
About Niblack Mineral Development Inc.
Niblack Mineral Development Inc. (TSX-V: NIB) is an exploration and development company with a number of mineral rich assets in South East Alaska. The Company’s principal asset is its interest in the advanced stage copper-gold-zinc-silver Niblack Project. This project is currently in a joint venture operated by Heatherdale. On October 25, 2011, Niblack and Heatherdale entered into a definitive arrangement agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement"), which provides that Heatherdale will acquire all of the common shares of Niblack in exchange for Heatherdale shares, on the basis of 0.50 Heatherdale share per Niblack common share.
Niblack Mineral Development Inc. is a member of the Discovery Group of companies, for more information on the group visit www.discoveryexp.com.
On behalf of the Board
Niblack Mineral Development Inc.
President, CEO & Director
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This release includes certain statements that may be deemed "forward-looking statements". All statements in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that address exploration drilling, exploitation activities and events or developments that the company expects are forward looking statements. Although the company believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include market prices, exploitation and exploration successes, continuity of mineralization, uncertainties related to the ability to obtain necessary permits, licenses and title and delays due to third party opposition, changes in government policies regarding mining and natural resource exploration and exploitation, and continued availability of capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions. Investors are cautioned that any such statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. For more information on the Company, investors should review the Company's continuous disclosure filings that are available at www.sedar.com.