Northern Empire Enters into Option Agreement on Blackstone/BHP Billiton Project in Quebec Otish Mountain Diamond Play
January 14, 2002
Northern Empire Minerals Ltd. ("Empire") is pleased to announce that the company has entered into an agreement with Blackstone to acquire a 75% interest in the Premier property in the Otish Mountain region of Central Quebec. The 38,600 acre property is located 85 kilometers southwest of the Ashton/Soquem property where the companies have recently reported promising diamond counts at the Renard 1 and 2 kimberlite pipes and 6.5 kilometers northwest of the Majescor/Canabrava Mistassini project. The Premier property covers an area where BHP Billiton has collected certain proprietary data.
Empire can acquire a 75 % interest in the property by covering the staking costs, incurring exploration expenditures of $1 million over a four year period including, funding the cost of diamond drilling the first 5 holes. BHP Billiton will retain a one-time opportunity to earn a 51% interest in the property by spending $4 million on exploration in a 4-year period. BHP Billiton can earn a further 9% interest in the property by spending a further $6 million. Both Blackstone and Empire will, upon any back-in by BHP Billiton dilute their respective interests proportionately.
The Government of Quebec has accepted the mineral tenure application made on behalf of Blackstone however title will not be confirmed for a 30 to 60 day period.
Empire welcomes the opportunity to develop a relationship with BHP Billiton, one of Canada's leading diamond exploration and production companies. BHP Billiton's early work and ongoing technical commitment to the Premier Property will provide Empire and Blackstone with a significant level of expertise to assist in evaluating the potential of the property.
The Premier property represents Empire's second major acquisition in the Otish Mountain diamond play in North Central Quebec. Empire is currently investigating further opportunities and views this transaction as a significant step towards establishing itself as one of the key players in the Canadian diamond exploration community.
On behalf of the Board,
NORTHERN EMPIRE MINERALS LTD.
"John E. Robins"
John Robins, P. Geo.
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