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SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 17, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
White Mountain Titanium Corporation ("White Mountain" or the "Company") (OTCQB Markets:WMTM) is pleased to provide a progress update on current activities at its Cerro Blanco Project, related corporate matters, and commentary on the paints and pigments industry.
The global paints and pigments industry faced substantial challenges during the first half of 2013 with Western pigment producers facing high levels of cheaper finished products from Asia. According to market commentators, this led to destocking which, according to industry observers, is now coming to an end. Pigment producers are expecting firmer prices for the balance of 2013 and into next year. Firming prices for pigment will have positive implications for rutile and other primary TiO2 feedstocks. The Company remains optimistic about the longer term prospects for TiO2 feedstocks, in particular high grade rutile.
Cerro Blanco Project
Set against a backdrop of expectations for firmer prices for pigments and TiO2 feedstocks and stubbornly difficult equity markets for junior exploration and development companies, the Company has continued to advance the Cerro Blanco Project to final feasibility as quickly as funds allow. The Company's two principal aims are to secure approval for the Environmental Impact Study ("EIS"), which was submitted to the Chilean environmental authorities in February 2013, and to conclude detailed design engineering and a definitive, final engineering feasibility study.
Geology - White Mountain geological staff are continuing to search for additional rutile prospects in the region. Based on the Company's discovery of 5 new prospects at Cerro Blanco and 1 new regional prospect within the past year, the Company believes that other targets can be identified using proprietary regional investigation techniques. Personnel are prioritizing targets with good access, the potential to host large volumes of rutile mineralization and exhibit high TiO2 grades at or near surface. Any resources identified through this regional exploration or through further work conducted at Cerro Blanco or La Martina, would be in addition to the recently reported NI 43-101 resource statement compiled by Behre Dolbear. Further developments in this regard will be reported in due course.
Environmental - Cerro Blanco remains an important project within the region. White Mountain management and technical personnel continue to work with the local communities and the environmental authorities to provide further clarification on the EIS and any related assistance as required. Whilst the Company is not in a position to forecast when the EIS may be approved, every effort is being made to address any remaining issues.
Metallurgical - Development work is continuing to optimize the separate unit operations in the processing plant for recovery of high grade rutile. One such investigation relates to the formulation of the chemical reagents used in the flotation stage. The Company's metallurgical engineers, together with flotation reagent suppliers, have simplified the formulation and amounts of chemicals that could be used to recover the rutile. The original formulation based on pilot plant work at SGS Lakefield consisted of separate conditioners, collectors and depressants, frothers and pH control reagents to achieve rutile recovery at an acidic pH. Recent development work has successfully reduced the number of reagents required to just two main chemicals and effected recovery at a neutral pH. The Company's metallurgical engineers believe that substantial cost savings will result from the use of this simpler formulation.
Desalination Plant -The Cerro Blanco Project final feasibility will include a desalination plant to supply industrial quality process water to the mining and rutile processing plant. The desalination plant, based on conventional reverse osmosis technology, will be sited some 5km from the coast. White Mountain's technical personnel believe that the output of the desalination plant will exceed the industrial water requirements of the Cerro Blanco Project. Discussions are underway with several companies in the region who have expressed a desire to purchase water from the Company. Should these discussions have a positive outcome, the desalination plant could be operated as a stand-alone facility, producing industrial water both for third-party sale and the Cerro Blanco Project within as little as 12months of the EIS approval being granted. In effect the desalination plant could become a separate profit centre within the rutile recovery process.
Final Engineering - The Company's own technical staff in Santiago have already completed the bulk of the final design engineering to a level that is acceptable for final feasibility requirements. A definitive, final engineering feasibility study will require the input of an independent, third-party engineering consultant to review and vouch the quality of the Company's work and provide an independent sign-off. Further information in respect of the final engineering will be issued in due course.
Corporate Matters - The Company held its annual general meeting in Salt Lake City on September 5, 2013. Amongst other matters, shareholders approved amendments to the Company's Articles of Incorporation. These amendments were made largely to contemporize the Articles with current governance and regulatory policy in preparation for listing the Company's common shares on a senior exchange. Following the annual general meeting, the White Mountain board approved a resolution to simplify its various series of warrants such that they all have a common expiry of December 31, 2015.
Since first being acquired, the Cerro Blanco Project has grown significantly, both in size and in the opportunities is affords. Identifying and attracting technical, financial and management capability remains an important strategic consideration for White Mountain. One means of addressing this strategic consideration would be to enter into a partnership with an external party and, to that end, management is continuing to hold discussions with several corporate entities.