2003 Québec Exploration Program Approved


Robert T. Boyd, President and CEO of Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. ("Ashton"), is pleased to announce that Ashton and its joint venture partner, SOQUEM INC. ("SOQUEM"), intend to implement a diamond exploration program in north-central Québec in 2003 with an estimated budget of $6,000,000. The program will focus on further evaluation of a core area situated within the Renard cluster of eight kimberlitic bodies on the Foxtrot property (the "Core Area"), as well as further exploration directed toward new discoveries.

The primary objective of the 2003 program is to better define the size and diamond content of the six kimberlitic bodies located within the Core Area. Measuring less than 0.5 square km, this area includes Renard 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 and one untested high priority target located 150 m south of Renard 4. As reported on November 12, 2002, a 111.8 kg sample from Renard 8 returned nine diamonds larger than 0.100 mm. The diamond results for the other five bodies are shown in the table below:

Diamond Results - Renard 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6


DMS Sample Weight (tonnes)

Largest Diamonds
Recovered (carats)

Estimated Diamond Content
(>0.85 mm)(cpht)

Renard 2 (Note 1)


0.16, 0.14, 0.12, 0.10, 0.10


Renard 3


0.73, 0.31, 0.25, 0.23, 0.22


Renard 4


0.28, 0.26, 0.16, 0.16


Renard 5



(Note 2)

Renard 6



(Note 2)

Note 1: Diamond results for an additional sample weighing approximately 2.5 tonnes are expected in January 2003.
Note 2: Not applicable due to small sample size.

During the winter field program, the joint venture intends to collect approximately 40 tonnes of additional material from Renard 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in order to have a cumulative sample of 10 tonnes or greater from each of these bodies. Taking into account the material collected in 2002, the joint venture will have collected an aggregate total of more than 50 tonnes of kimberlitic material from the Core Area once this program is completed. Additional drilling will also be conducted on these five bodies and Renard 8 to better define their size. If results warrant, the joint venture will consider, in future programs, a larger program of systematic delineation drilling and the collection of one or more bulk samples.

The Renard cluster of kimberlitic bodies also includes Renard 1 and 7, which are located 400 m north of the Core Area. The Renard cluster and other portions of the Foxtrot property continue to demonstrate the potential for additional kimberlitic discoveries. A number of unexplained geophysical anomalies associated with indicator mineral anomalies are present, including the high priority geophysical anomaly mentioned above. The 2003 program will therefore include ground geophysical surveying and the drilling of new targets in both winter and summer, as well as a summer indicator mineral sampling program. 

In addition to the 153,000 hectare Foxtrot property, the joint venture holds the Caniapiscau, Taiga and Tichegami properties that together constitute 227,000 hectares of prospective mineral permits. The joint venture will continue to explore these properties in 2003 through indicator mineral sampling, ground geophysics, and if warranted, drilling.

Ashton is the operator of the programs and Brooke Clements, Professional Geologist and Ashton's Vice President, Exploration, is responsible for their design and conduct and the verification and quality assurance of analytical results. SOQUEM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SGF Minerals Inc., a subsidiary of Société Générale de Financement du Québec ("SGF"). The mission of the SGF is to carry out economic development projects in cooperation with partners and in accordance with accepted requirements of profitability.

For further information, please contact:          

Robert T. Boyd        -or-         Ariel Bowers       -or-           visit our website:
President and CEO                   Investor Relations                             www.ashton.ca
(604) 983-7750                        (604) 983-7750                      investor@ashton.ca