VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire -07/03/12)- Empire Mining Corporation (EPC.V) ("Empire") is pleased to report that it has again won a lawsuit against the Albanian Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Energy ("METE"), and has recovered its Bulqiza-Batra chromite license. As reported on May 29, 2012, Empire has already sued METE and won at trial, METE appealed, but this appeal was not successful and now a second Albanian court has ruled in Empire's favour.
METE has one more opportunity to appeal until July 26, 2012, to the Supreme Court of Albania, notwithstanding, Empire has now recovered its full legal rights to its Bulqiza-Batra chromite license. The license permit all exploration work including; drilling and underground development and evaluation for a twelve month period during which time Empire may apply for full mining rights.
Empire's lawsuit challenges the 2011 METE ruling, which systematically removed regions with the most prospective value from Empire's Bulqiza-Batra license, including areas containing significant historical resources of chromite. Although it explored other avenues to having METE's decision reversed, Empire believed its best recourse was to sue METE. Empire has successfully argued that METE's ruling violates applicable Albanian mining law and that Empire should have been granted the extension on the entire geographical area requested. Empire's position has now been validated by two levels of the Albanian legal system.
Empire's chromite licenses cover the most prospective geological terrain within the productive Bulqiza Ultramafic Massif in eastern Albania. Before the collapse of communism in the late 1980's, Albania was the world's third largest producer of chromite, the majority of which was produced from the Bulqiza Massif. Albania has always been noted as a producer of high quality chromite characterized by high grades (+38% Cr2O3) and metallurgical quality (Cr:Fe ratios of up to 3:1 in lump ores and even higher in concentrates).
Under the 2011 applications made for licence renewal pursuant to the new mining law which mandated size reductions, Empire's licences now consist of the 1.013 km2 Qafe Burreli licence and the recently recovered 5.77 km2 Bulqiza-Batra licence for a total of 6.90 km2 in two distinct project areas containing numerous chromite showings, prospects and past-producing mines. The Bulqiza-Batra license surrounds and extends from the producing Bulqiza and Batra mines(i) which have aggregate past production of about 20 million tonnes grading 35-42% Cr2O3. Empire's Bulqiza-Batra Licence includes the east and west mineralized extensions of the fold structure controlling and hosting the chromite ores in the Bulqiza and Batra mines(i) and also includes much of the past producing Thekna mine which is reported to host an historical resource of 330,000 tonnes grading +40% Cr2O3 and where Empire's drilling in 2011 has demonstrated scope for significant expansion.
With the recovery of the Bulqiza-Batra license complete, Empire is considering the best path to advance the Bulqiza chromite project. Empire's exploration efforts to the end of 2011were based on a substantial reinterpretation of more than 50 years of State geological and mining information. This work identified several starting points for both surface and underground investigations. At the time of the emergence of the license problem plans were already in place and initiatives underway for a series of underground openings to explore, develop and produce high-grade lump chromite, as well as to evaluate sites with near-surface mineralization that is potentially amenable to open pit mining and processing to create a saleable concentrate.
Dave Cliff, the President and CEO of Empire, commented: "This is a momentous event for Empire and its shareholders. Empire has been vindicated and we have reclaimed assets that many thought would be impossible to recover. We're now looking forward to advancing our chromite project for the benefit of our shareholders."
(i) Some portions of the historical Bulqiza and Batra mines are not included as part of Empire's Bulqiza-Batra Licence.
Empire's Qualified Person, David C. Cliff, BSc (Hons), MIMMM, C Eng, FGS, also Empire's President & CEO, has reviewed and approved the content of this news release.
ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD
David Cliff, President & CEO
This release contains forward-looking information and statements, as defined by law including without limitation Canadian securities laws and the "safe harbor" provisions of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("forward-looking statements"), respecting a possible subsequent appeal by METE, and the future of Empire's Albanian project. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including without limitation whether METE will appeal the decision the court date of June 26, 2012; whether such decision will remain in effect if appealed; the enforceability of the decisions handed down thus far as well as any in the future; general compliance with Albanian law; risks that Empire will not be victorious on a further appeal either completely or partially; risks associated with exploration projects, mineral reserve and resource estimates (including the risk of assumption and methodology errors); dependence on third parties for services, including in particular Albanian legal assistance; non-performance by contractual counterparties; title risks; and general business and economic conditions. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions that may prove to be incorrect, including without limitation assumptions about: that Empire will be successful on appeal; that METE or other Albanian government branches will not subsequently appeal; that upon demand the judgments will be enforceable such that (among other things) Albanian authorities will return the licenses to Empire; general business and economic conditions; the timing and receipt of required approvals; availability of financing; that Empire's legal representatives in Albania will continue to provide services in connection with this matter; and ongoing relations with service providers employees, partners and joint venturers. The foregoing list is not exhaustive and Empire undertakes no obligation to update any of the foregoing except as required by law.
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