Stornoway (SWY.TO) Announces New Agreement to Complete Route 167 Extension
Quebec and Stornoway to Partner on Road Financing and Construction
MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 15, 2012) -Stornoway Diamond Corporation (TSX:SWY) is pleased to announce that its wholly-owned subsidiary Les Diamants Stornoway (Canada) Inc. has entered into a Framework Agreement and an associated Letter of Intent (collectively the "Agreement") with the Government of Québec for the financing and completion of the Route 167 Extension under Stornoway's direct management. The Agreement is designed to ensure timely road access to the Renard Diamond Project and the commencement of mine construction during 2013, as previously contemplated. Key features of the new Agreement are as follows:
•Stornoway to assume the completion of segments "C" and "D" of the Route 167 Extension as a single lane mining grade road; and
•Québec to provide Stornoway with an unsecured credit facility of up to C$77m to complete the work, at an annual interest rate of 3.35% percent, amortized over 15 years, with a repayment schedule based upon planned commencement of commercial production at Renard.
In addition, and in support of Stornoway's construction schedule for Renard, Québec has agreed that:
•The Québec Ministère des Transports ("MTQ") shall continue with the construction of a winter road this season as previously planned, providing temporary road access to Renard by March 2013; and
•The Québec Ministère du Développement Durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs and the MTQ shall transfer all relevant authorizations for Stornoway to commence mining road construction by April 2013.
As a result of the Agreement, Stornoway now anticipates first all-season vehicle access to the Renard project site by the 4th Quarter of 2013, compared to July 2013 previously.
Matt Manson, Stornoway's President and CEO commented: "Today's news represents the removal of a major element of uncertainty over the Renard Diamond Project. With Stornoway now responsible for the completion of the project's access road, we will be in full control of our overall development schedule for the first time. The financing terms that we have negotiated to complete this work are beneficial to Stornoway, and are expected to have a minimal impact on the project's overall valuation and financing capacity. This is an excellent example of government and the mining industry working in partnership to achieve a common goal." Mr. Manson continued: "Since Stornoway's October 29th announcement of the potential for a delay in the completion of the Route 167 Extension, we have moved quickly to re-establish a viable plan for road access to Renard during 2013. The Agreement announced today achieves this, and allows us to continue moving forward with our project financing and development activities. This positive outcome will benefit our shareholders, our community partners and Québec in equal measure."
Construction on the 240km long Route 167 Extension began in February of this year, and is being undertaken in four segments, "A" to "D". Under the terms of the Framework Agreement executed today with the MTQ, the Québec Ministère des Ressources Naturelles ("MRN"), and the Québec Ministère des Finances et de l'Économie ("MFE"), Québec will complete the first 143km of the road over segments A and B as a 70km/hr two-lane gravel highway, as previously planned. Starting in April 2013, Stornoway will commence construction of a 50km/hr single lane mining road over the remaining 97km covered by segments C and D. To facilitate this schedule, the MTQ has committed to complete a winter road by March 2013, allowing temporary access to Renard and the mobilization of fuel, road construction equipment and camps. Given the reduced scope of the mining road that will be built on segments C and D, and the progress that has been made to date on segments A and B, it is expected that this construction plan will allow all-season road access to be available to Renard starting in the 4th Quarter of 2013 and mine construction to commence forthwith. Maintenance costs on segments C and D will be borne by Stornoway, and by Québec on segments A and B.
The cost of a mining road on segments C and D has been estimated by Stornoway at C$77 million, including a 15% contingency. Under the terms of the Letter of Intent between Stornoway and the MFE, this cost will be financed by way of an unsecured credit facility to be provided to Stornoway by the MFE, bearing an annual interest rate of 3.35% and amortized over a fifteen year period. In order to provide additional cost contingency, the MFE is agreeing to provide Stornoway with a second facility, with the right to draw a further C$7.7 million, bearing an annual interest rate of 6.3%, for total credit facilities of up to C$84.7 million. Stornoway's schedule of loan repayments is based upon the schedule of financing and construction of the Renard Diamond Project, commencing upon the attainment of commercial production. Finalisation of these terms is dependent upon the conclusion of a definitive Financing Agreement between Stornoway and the MFE, which is currently under negotiation. Stornoway's obligations under the Framework Agreement are conditional upon the execution of the definitive Financing Agreement.
The Agreement provides for the termination of, and replaces, the two pre-existing agreements between Stornoway and Québec dated August 1st 2011, wherein Stornoway agreed to contribute C$44 million to the construction of the Route 167 Extension at a 6.3% interest rate over 10 years, and up to C$1.215 million per year to the road's maintenance.
About the Renard Diamond Project
The Renard Diamond Project is located approximately 250 km north of the Cree community of Mistissini and 350 km north of Chibougamau in the James Bay region of North-Central Québec. In November 2011, Stornoway released the results of a Feasibility Study for Renard that highlighted the potential of the project to become a significant producer of high value rough diamonds over a long mine life. NI 43-101 compliant Probable Mineral Reserves stand at 18.0 million carats, with a further 17.5 million carats classified as Inferred Mineral Resources, and 23.5 to 48.5 million carats classified as non-resource exploration upside. All kimberlites remain open at depth. Pre-production capital cost stands at an estimated C$802 million, with a life of mine operating cost of C$54.71/tonne giving a 68% operating margin over an initial 11 year mine life. Readers are referred to the technical report dated December 29, 2011 in respect of the Renard Diamond Project for further details and assumptions relating to the project.
About Stornoway Diamond Corporation
Stornoway is a leading Canadian diamond exploration and development company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY. Our flagship asset is the 100% owned Renard Diamond Project, on track to becoming Québec's first diamond mine. Stornoway also maintains an active diamond exploration program with both advanced and grassroots programs in the most prospective regions of Canada. Stornoway is a growth oriented company with a world class asset, in one of the world's best mining jurisdictions, in one of the world's great mining businesses.
On behalf of the Board
STORNOWAY DIAMOND CORPORATION