Ashton Commences 2005 Quebec Exploration Program

$12 million program includes definition drilling on Renard bodies and extensive exploration on existing properties

Robert T. Boyd, President and CEO of Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. ("Ashton" or the "Corporation"), is pleased to announce that Ashton and its 50:50 joint venture partner, SOQUEM INC. ("SOQUEM"), have commenced a $12 million exploration program in Quebec. The goal of the program is the discovery of new kimberlitic material through further drilling of the principal Renard bodies and through exploration for new bodies on the Foxtrot property and on the joint venture's other properties in the north-central region of the province.

Delineation Drilling - Renard Bodies

The joint venture's winter drilling campaign will focus primarily on Renard 2 and 3. Samples from these two bodies have shown the highest estimated diamond content in the Renard cluster thus far. The drilling is intended to identify additional kimberlitic material beneath and peripheral to the drill-indicated margins of these bodies. 

Additional drilling will also be carried out to further define the northern portion of Renard 4. As reported on December 22, 2004, surface samples collected from the northeast corner of this body returned an estimated diamond content higher than indicated by drilling other portions of the body.

To the end of 2004, the joint venture has completed 140 core holes and 23 reverse circulation holes on Renard 2, 3, 4 and 65, four of the six kimberlitic bodies in the Core Area of the Renard cluster. The resulting data will provide the basis for confirming, before the end of the current quarter, a preliminary estimate of tonnage for each of these bodies.

As a result of its 2004 bulk sample program, the joint venture has collected approximately 635 tonnes of kimberlitic material from Renard 2, 3, 4 and 65. After processing by dense media separation, the initial 415 tonnes of this material has returned 282 carats of diamonds, including 12 diamonds weighing more than one carat. Six of these diamonds weigh more than two carats. As reported on January 26, 2005, the largest stone recovered to date is a 4.3 carat clear colourless octahedron. Results from the remaining 220 tonnes of material are expected before the end of the first quarter. The valuation of the resulting parcel of 300 to 400 carats of diamonds will provide a preliminary estimate of diamond value for the Renard bodies.

The joint venture remains strongly encouraged by the diamond results from the Renard cluster to date, and continues to advance the project towards an evaluation of its economic potential. The remaining diamond results, the tonnage estimates of the four Renard bodies, the diamond valuation and the results from the 2005 drilling program will assist the joint venture in determining the nature and scope of further work to be performed on the Renard cluster for the remainder of 2005 and beyond.

Extensive Exploration on Foxtrot and Monts Otish Properties

The 2005 program includes airborne and ground geophysical surveys, the most extensive exploratory drill program ever undertaken by the joint venture in Quebec and the collection of indicator mineral samples on a regional and detailed basis. While this work will focus primarily on the Foxtrot property, exploration work will also be conducted on the Monts Otish property and in other regions of north-central Quebec. Highlights of these 2005 plans are as follows.                       


The joint venture intends to complete more than 19,000 line-kilometres of detailed airborne geophysical surveys over portions of the 200,000 hectare Foxtrot property during the winter field season. The resulting data will complement the results of the property-wide indicator mineral sampling program conducted in 2004. High priority anomalies identified by the analysis of the two sets of data will be ranked using ground geophysical surveys conducted in preparation for target drilling.

During the winter field season, the joint venture plans to drill approximately 10 targets within the Lynx Anomaly and elsewhere on the Foxtrot property. Additional targets are slated for drilling in the summer and fall. The winter exploration drilling is scheduled to begin in late March.

Monts Otish

The 15,000 hectare Monts Otish property is located 80 kilometres southeast of the Foxtrot property and was originally staked in 2003 on the basis of favourable regional indicator mineral sampling results. As a result of an airborne geophysical survey carried out over the area of an interpreted indicator mineral anomaly in 2004, the joint venture identified several high priority geophysical anomalies. During the winter field season, ground magnetic surveys will be conducted over these anomalies to prioritize new drill targets.

Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. and SOQUEM INC.

Ashton's prime objective is the discovery or acquisition of diamond prospects capable of rapid advancement to development and production. The Corporation has positioned itself among the leading explorers in the Canadian diamond industry. Ashton's key competitive advantages include significant exploration experience and its in-house processing and laboratory facilities in North Vancouver, dedicated exclusively to the Corporation's exploration projects.

SOQUEM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SGF Minéral inc., a subsidiary of the Société générale de financement du Québec ("SGF"). The mission of the SGF, an industrial and financial holding company, is to undertake economic development projects in the industrial sector in cooperation with partners and in compliance with the economic development policies of the Government of Quebec.

Ashton is the operator of the joint venture's exploration programs. Brooke Clements, Professional Geologist and Ashton's Vice President, Exploration, is responsible for their design and conduct, and for the verification and quality assurance of analytical results.

For further information, please contact:

Robert T. Boyd        -or-             Mike Westerlund                 -or-     visit our website:
President and CEO                   Manager, Investor Relations 
(604) 983-7750                          (604) 983-7750                                 email: