MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwire – Feb. 17, 2011) – Exploration Orbite (TSX VENTURE:ORT.A) is pleased to announce that it has successfully produced its first ton of high purity alumina and has done so ahead of schedule and on budget. This first ton was produced at the company's pilot facility in Cap-Chat, QC, using the company's patented process that marks an important technological quantum step forward.
"Producing our first ton of high purity alumina is a major breakthrough for Orbite because it proves definitely that the innovative process we have developed is viable and suited to large scale production. It brings us that much closer to a new metallurgical alumina production facility and a high purity alumina production facility with very high added value. We are consequently very confident about the future of the Company and its products, since these results have exceeded our expectations. This recent progress is the result of many years of hard work and strategic preparation. For the Orbite team located in Cap-Chat, this success is particularly evocative of their talent and creativity," said Orbite president and CEO Richard Boudreault.
The production of this first ton of alumina has also provided an opportunity to validate critical production cost assumptions and show how efficient and environmentally friendly the various industrial processes used are. This first phase also served as a test bed for evaluating and developing additional technological innovations—for which further patent applications will now be deposited – further enhancing the corporation's proprietary production process.
The metallurgical alumina produced by Orbite would find users primarily amongst the 10 aluminum smelters operating in Quebec generating 12% of the world's aluminium production. Currently, the Quebec aluminum industry imports over 6 million tons of metallurgical alumina each year for aluminum production, representing some $ 3 billion annually and roughly 3% of Quebec's GDP. This market is thus intended to be the primary target for Orbite's metallurgical alumina.
The market for high purity alumina is growing rapidly with market prices reaching now as much as $300 per kilogram. There are numerous applications for this type of alumina: production of artificial sapphires for fiber optic communications systems and the microelectronic industry, substrates for integrated circuits and light emitting diodes (LEDs), the coating of missile cones, and bioceramics for prostheses and implants. LED lighting is a growing market segment as demand for their domestic, commercial, and automotive applications are skyrocketing.
"Orbite has demonstrated conclusively that its production facility is able to produce a ton of alumina per day. The coming weeks will be used to optimize operations," said Joel Fournier, Vice President Technology.
The coming months will be devoted to sustaining the proper functioning of the facility, to R&D, and readying the company's first industrial plant for production of at least 500 metric tons of metallurgical alumina per day. In addition, when the pilot production facility has completed its mandate, its production capabilities will be upgraded and switched solely towards high purity alumina.
Some of the metallurgical alumina produced at the plant during the pilot project phase is expected to be sent to a Quebec aluminum smelter for testing in its aluminum production operations.
Grande-Vallée Property Site expansion
Fifty-three additional claims next to the Company's Grande-Vallée property have expanded its holdings from approximately 3457 hectares to 6,441 hectares. The property, located 20 kilometers south of Grande-Vallée, covers a wide swath of argillaceous rock running some 18 kilometers.
Orbite owns 100% of the mining rights on its Grande-Vallée property, the site of an aluminous clay deposit located 32 km northeast of Murdochville, and a 28,000 sq. ft. facility in Cap Chat, both in the Gaspé region. The Company also owns the intellectual rights to a unique Canada and U.S.-patented process for extracting alumina from aluminous clays for which other international patents are also pending. The Company has cash assets of more than $13.5 million. www.explorationorbite.com.