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TORONTO-BASED LionOre Mining International has released its full calendar year report to the Australian Stock Exchange, revealing that its Australian nickel operations did well despite considerably lower gold production. LionOre International recorded total net earnings of $US78.2 million for the year ended December 31, of which Western Australian operations accounted for 39 per cent. However, the miner’s result included a foreign exchange loss of $US8 million due to the combined effect of the strengthening Australian dollar and South African rand against the US dollar over the period. In 2004 LionOre Australia sold 2,060 tonnes of nickel from its Lake Johnston operation for earnings of $US28.3 million, an increase of 27 per cent on 2003. The solid nickel production was attributable to higher nickel prices according to the company, and coincided with an upgrade in plant capacity at the Emily Ann mine to 500,000 tonnes a year. Meanwhile, the Thunderbox gold mine produced 156,916 ounces of gold for $ US 2.2 million in earnings, which was 83 per cent lower than 2003 earnings. The company said that gold operations were affected by higher diesel fuel costs and the strong Australian dollar. A recent highlight for LionOre was the successful takeover of MPI Mines, completed on February 7. The takeover gives LionOre access to MPI’s 80 per cent owned nickel assets of Black Swan and the Honeymoon Well nickel sulphide deposit. LionOre also plans to explore the area immediately surrounding Black Swan through an agreement to earn 60 per cent of the nickel rights in a 700 square kilometre tenement package held by Jackson Gold and Placer Dome.

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