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First Point MInerals



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By imakedough

Posted: Monday Jul 16 7:52:59AM 2007

Rising nickel prices may cause investors to look at First Point Mining iron-nickel alloy may now be more economic BY BRIAN TRUSCOTT Dow Jones VA N C O U V E R • First Point Minerals Corp. is in many ways the quintessential venture company, given its aspirations to extract nickel out of the ground in a new fashion. Basically, the company is now focusing its energy on looking for a particular nickel-iron alloy, something that occurs naturally but in a very specific environment. “It’s by no means universal but [the mineral] does have the potential to be open-pit mined in a bulk tonnage manner,” said Peter Bradshaw, the company’s (FPX/V) president and chief executive. While this newfound method of extraction has been in the cards for some time, it’s not cheap, it’s not yet refined, and patents are pending. Previous testing had shown encouraging results, but Mr. Bradshaw and his team reckoned the economics did not really make sense. That was when nickel was trading at US$3.50 a pound; now, times have changed. “About a year ago, when nickel went [above] US$10 a pound, we dusted off our files and started to look at it seriously,” he said. Enter two sizeable properties in British Columbia and a $243,000 flow-through placement to fund further research. “We acquired two sites which have the style of minerology we were looking for,” Mr. Bradshaw said. He’s quick to add it is still early days, in terms of where the exploration work is at. In other words, drilling to find a prospective porphyry-type deposit that is economically mineable is still some time away. Nevertheless, First Point’s aim is relatively straightforward: extracting ore to make nickel mat. “Our hope, our aim is to produce nickel metal on site, in the same way people produce and sell, say, copper metal,” he said. If successful, First Point would avoid the idea of building a smelter as well as reduce transport costs. “That’s our objective, but we haven’t yet demonstrated that it’s commercially viable,” he said. Bottom line: a venture that is still at least one year away from proving the business model will work, something that might dissuade investors who don’t remember when heap leaching was just a notion. JMHO TIA

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