Geovic Mining Corp last week announced the discovery of a chromite mineral sand deposit in the Bitoi Delta of Papua New Guinea.

Chromite occurs as heavy mineral sand deposits along the coast of Morobe province. Previous exploration programs by AMAX Australia in the 1970s, OM Group and others found smaller chromite mineral sand occurrences further south at Hessen and Sachsen Bay.

Geovic has been evaluating chromite sand in the Bitoi River delta near Salus, Morobe province, because of the large potential size of the deposits. Geovic’s exploration licence covering this potential mineralized area is presently being renewed.

Reconnaissance sampling of surface sand has yielded elevated chromite content. The discovery has spurred Geovic to prepare for a drilling program that confirms further the geology of the deposits. The primary goal of this program will be to measure chromite grades at depth and recover sufficient material for bulk metallurgical testing. Samples will be analysed for the chrome content in chromite and to identify other valuable products such as olivine and magnetite.

The company anticipates that the minerals have the potential to meet foundry and metallurgical grades in the market. The foundry and casting sand is potentially attractive because both olivine and chromite would also be produced.

Demand for non-radioactive, high temperature foundry sand is increasing as zircon, a foundry sand that has highly radioactive trace components, is gradually phased out.

Geovic anticipates split-tube and auger drilling to commence subject to renewal of the exploration licence and funding. Geovic plans to operate its own drilling equipment in this program, and has successfully drilled similar mineral sand deposits in New Caledonia. Geovic anticipates drilling 200 to 300 holes with a depth range of 5 to 15 metres in the Bitoi delta. The spacing of the holes would be sufficiently close to each other to allow a geo-statistic interpretation that could lead to a NI 43-101 compliant resource report.

Geovic is a US-based corporation whose principal asset is 60.5% indirect ownership of a significant cobalt-nickel-manganese deposit in the Republic of Cameroon.

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