MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- (Marketwired) -- 06/06/13 -- Orbite Aluminae Inc. (TSX: ORT)(OTCQX: EORBF) ("Orbite" or the "Corporation") today reported updated capital cost and timeline estimates for completing its high-purity alumina (HPA) production plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec and announced the appointment of Mr. Denis Arguin as Vice President Operations.
Updated HPA Plant Capital Cost and Timeline Estimates
Orbite commissioned and recently received two independent capital cost and timeline estimates (the "Independent Estimates") for completing the HPA production plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec, including the installation of the new calcination system. These were subsequently reviewed and analysed by Orbite management and engineers, and were also compared to a third estimate prepared by our general contractor. The Corporation is now in a position to report updated capital cost and timeline estimates to achieve the Phase II production capacity of 3 tonnes per day.
In its Management Discussion and Analysis for the period ended December 31, 2012 (the "December MD&A"), the Corporation estimated that capital costs for the HPA plant totalling $85 million before refundable investment tax credits ("RITC") (or $55 million net of RITC) would be required to complete the plant. As at March 31, 2013, the Corporation had incurred external capital costs of $74.9 million (or $51.2 million net of RITC). Based on the Independent Estimates, the Corporation is revising its capital cost estimate, before RITC, to $105.9 million (or $75.9 million net of RITC), which represents an increase of $20.9 million to the estimate provided in the December MD&A and includes $6.7 million in contingency and critical spare parts. As a result, the projected total external capital costs required to complete the construction and commissioning of the HPA production facility, in addition to those already incurred at March 31, 2013, are as follows:
(in 1,000) - Engineering and Project Management $2,540 - Material and Equipment, including Calcination System $15,090 - Labour $6,660 - Contingencies $4,220 - Critical Spare Parts & Specialty Tools $2,500 -------------------- Total $31,010
The updated capital cost estimate represents the investment required to achieve the Phase II production capacity of 3 tonnes per day. A large portion of the HPA plant has been designed at a 5 tonnes per day capacity, and as such, the requisite engineering analysis to increase the total plant throughput to 5 tonnes per day, as well as to add a scandium and gallium separation facility, is expected to be completed during the second half of 2013 and the incremental capital cost estimate is expected to be reported during the first quarter of 2014.
Based on the Independent Estimates, which included a review of construction labor time, the Corporation is also updating the anticipated project timelines for achieving the Phase II production capacity of 3 tonnes per day to the end of the second quarter of 2014, representing a delay of approximately 6 months from the previous estimates. This is based upon a 12-month project execution timeline commencing once the Corporation has raised the necessary capital to proceed.
"Given the highly detailed effort employed by both independent engineering firms in preparing the revised estimates and by Orbite management in vetting them, we are confident in meeting both the cost and timeline targets. In addition, a large part of my personal responsibilities will be to deliver this facility on time and within budget," said Glenn Kelly, EVP and Chief Operating Officer.
In the interim, the commissioned segments of the HPA plant are expected to continue to be operated intermittently at a Phase I production capacity averaging less than one tonne per day of HPA at a purity of 99.99% (4N) or better. Customer samples of HPA will continue to be shipped as material of the appropriate purity and characteristics is produced to satisfy existing and prospective orders. The Corporation is pleased to report that initial feedback has been positive and that it has successfully produced densified and spheronized product for additional shipments to a prospective client satisfied with initial product quality.
Construction costs on expenditures related to the construction and expansion of manufacturing and processing facilities in the Gaspe region of Quebec, incurred in 2012 and in 2013 and not exceeding an aggregate of $75 million, are eligible for an RITC of 40%, while amounts exceeding $75 million are eligible for an RITC of 5%, subject to approval from the tax authorities. This upper limit of RITC is presently being re-evaluated by the Quebec Government. The Corporation has pledged all of its 2012 and 2013 RITCs, to an aggregate of $25 million, as security for the $25 million of convertible debentures issued in December 2012.
Cost and timeline estimates are forward looking statements and are based on information available at the time and/or the Corporation management's good-faith beliefs with respect to future events and are subject to known or unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other unpredictable factors, many of which are beyond the Corporation's control. The Corporation continuously evaluates the cost and timeline to completion as events unfolds. In addition, the Corporation will require additional funding to complete its HPA plant. There can be no assurance that the Corporation will be able to obtain additional funding on favourable terms, if at all. These and other risks are disclosed in the section entitled "Risk Factors" and otherwise referenced in our 2013 Q1 MD&A which is available on the Corporation's website or under the Corporation's profile on www.sedar.com.
New Vice President Operations
Mr. Denis Arguin will join Orbite in the newly created position of Vice President Operations, effective June 10, and will report to Glenn Kelly, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
"Mr. Arguin's broad and deep experience in engineering and operations further strengthens the team we are building at Orbite," said Glenn Kelly, Orbite's Chief Operating Officer. "Mr. Arguin's first and only priority will be the completion of the HPA plant in Cap-Chat."
Mr. Denis Arguin joins Orbite from his position as Vice President, Strategic and Technological Business Development at Enerkem, which is a private company headquartered in Montreal with 150 employees in Canada and the United States, with proprietary technology for waste-to-biofuels from municipal solid waste, where he joined in 2008 as Vice President, Engineering and Operations. Previously, Mr. Arguin was Director of Process Technology at Minerals Technologies Inc. (MTI) in Pennsylvania (USA), and as Director of European Operations for a division of MTI, based in Brussels. He has also held positions of Regional Manager - Operations, for the Northeast Canada and U.S. region at Mintech Canada Inc. He also gained extensive experience at petrochemical companies such as Kemtec, Union Carbide, and Gulf Oil Refinery Ltd. Mr. Arguin holds an Executive MBA in Operations Management from the University of Western Ontario, and a Bachelor's Degree (B.Science) in Chemical Engineering from Universite de Sherbrooke. He has been a member of the Ordre des ingenieurs du Quebec since 1984.
Orbite Aluminae Inc. is a Canadian Corporation with innovative and proprietary processes that is expected to produce alumina and other high-value by-products, such as rare earth and rare metal oxides, at one of the lowest costs in the industry, without generating any wastes, using feedstocks that include aluminous clay, kaolin, nepheline, bauxite, red mud and fly ash. Orbite is currently operating and optimizing its first commercial high-purity alumina (HPA) production plant in Cap-Chat, Quebec. Orbite has completed the basic engineering for a proposed smelter-grade alumina (SGA) production plant, which would use clay mined from its Grande-Vallee deposit. Orbite signed an exclusive worldwide collaborative agreement with Veolia Environmental Services for the remediation of red mud using the Orbite processes with the intent to begin construction of a Veolia-operated plant in 2014. The Corporation owns the intellectual property rights to nine patents and 32 pending patent applications in 10 different countries. Its intellectual property portfolio now contains 14 intellectual property families.
For more information on the Corporation or to download our corporate presentation please visit: www.orbitealuminae.com
Certain information contained in this document may include "forward-looking information". Without limiting the foregoing, the information and any forward-looking information may include statements regarding projects, costs, objectives and future returns of the Corporation or hypotheses underlying these items. In this document, words such as "may", "would", "could", "will", "likely", "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "plan", "estimate" and similar words and the negative form thereof are used to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of whether, or the times at or by which, such future performance will be achieved. Forward-looking statements and information are based on information available at the time and/or the Corporation management's good-faith beliefs with respect to future events and are subject to known or unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other unpredictable factors, many of which are beyond the Corporation's control. These risks uncertainties and assumptions include, but are not limited to, those described in the section of the Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) entitled "Risk and Uncertainties" as filed on March 28, 2013 on SEDAR, and could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statements. The Corporation does not intend, nor does it undertake, any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements contained in this document to reflect subsequent information, events or circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable laws.
Vice President, Corporate Development
514-744-6264, ext. 605
External Investor Relations Consultant
416-815-0700, ext. 267
For Media Inquiries:
External Media Relations Consultant
416-815-0700, ext. 252