$1.56 Million Exploration Program Approved on Kikerk Project - 10 Tonne Mini-Bulk Sample Planned for Potentilla


John Robins President of Northern Empire Minerals Ltd. ("Empire") is pleased to announce that Empire has approved the $1.56 million program budget for the Kikerk Lake property in the Coronation Diamond District, Nunavut. Ashton has commenced its 2002 spring field program on the Kikerk Lake property. The program includes the collection of a mini-bulk sample from the diamondiferous Potentilla kimberlite and the identification of new targets for drilling. Empire has pre-paid Ashton $447,450.00 which represents Empire's entire share of the 2002 exploration program.

Potentilla Kimberlite
The Potentilla kimberlite was discovered in September 2001. The discovery hole, drilled vertically in the center of a magnetic anomaly, intersected kimberlite breccia beneath 9.9 metres of overburden to a depth of 142.3 metres and terminated in hypabyssal kimberlite at a depth of 184.7 metres. As announced October 24, 2001, a 207.8 kg sample returned 230 microdiamonds and 22 macrodiamonds. The largest stone measured 2.13 x 1.94 x 0.87 mm.

The current program has two objectives: to collect a mini-bulk sample of up to ten tonnes from Potentilla by core drilling, and to define the shape and size of the body by delineation drilling and geophysical surveys.

Target Generation
At least one unexplained indicator mineral train, as well as a number of distinct geophysical anomalies were identified during the previous exploration programs. A detailed helicopter-borne magnetic and electromagnetic survey is now underway over an area that includes the indicator mineral train and the Potentilla kimberlite. Ground geophysical surveys will follow over some of the unexplained anomalies discovered in 2001 as well as new anomalies generated by the airborne geophysical program. The budget allows for drill testing of up to four additional targets. Any high priority targets will be drilled before breakup.

Ashton and Caledonia Mining Corporation ("Caledonia") each hold an interest of 35 percent in the property. Empire holds the remaining 30 percent interest. Ashton is entitled to earn an additional 17.5 percent interest in the property from Caledonia by incurring $750,000 in exploration expenditures not later than May 31, 2003. In addition, Ashton is entitled to increase its interest to 59.5 percent by carrying Caledonia up to the completion of a feasibility study.

On behalf of the Board,


"John E. Robins"                                   

John Robins, P. Geo.
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