The iron ore miner said the first batch of assay results confirmed a zone of high grade iron mineralization at Joyce Lake, with intercepts up to 54 metres over 60% total iron (TFe%) and with an average of 6.09% silica (SiO2).
Assays are pending for a remaining 45 holes, the company said, adding that following the receipt of all the results, an NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate will be initiated - with a completion target set for year-end.
Following the discovery of DSO type mineralization during Century's drill campaign at Joyce Lake last year, an exploration and definition drilling program was started in February to expand the zone of high grade iron mineralization.
As of earlier this month, more than 7,800 metres of reverse circulation drilling were completed.
Direct shipping ore refers to iron ore that can be shipped directly to a steel furnace.
DSO mines are typically rarer than the magnetite-bearing banded iron formations, but are considerably cheaper to mine and process as they require less beneficiation due to the higher iron content. Export-grade DSO ores are generally in the 62 to 64 percent iron range.
Century said the higher grade mineralization at its Joyce Lake prospect occurs mostly within a "synclinal fold closure" and partly on both flanks. The synclinal structure has a shallow 15 degree plunge to the southeast, the miner said, adding that the mineralization reaches bedrock surface covered by 3 to 6 metres of overburden.
"I am very pleased with the positive results of our Joyce Lake exploration program," said Century's president and CEO, Sandy Chim.
"They continue to demonstrate the thickness and high grade consistency for a potential DSO deposit and operation.
"The completion of the recent bulk sampling exercise will add more confidence to Joyce Lake. It is reassuring to move each step of the way successfully on our fast track program toward the possibility of delivering production within a near term window."
Indeed, the company said it expects preparation for a preliminary economic assessment to begin immediately after the resource estimate in early 2013.
Notable holes from the latest results at Joyce Lake include 42 metres of 48.25% total iron, including 12 metres of 61.13% total iron in hole JOY-12-46. Hole JOY-12-55 also hit 15 metres of 64.56% total iron.
In addition to the drill results, the company has also shipped a 30-tonne bulk sample, collected from trenches in different sectors of the mineralized zone, for processing to SGS Canada. The bulk sample will be tested for grinding, recovery tests and mineralogy.
The Attikamagen iron project includes one group of claims straddling the boundary between the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The property includes 405 designated cells located in Quebec, known as Hayot Lake, where the company is targeting taconite potential, and 617 claims located in Labrador and Newfoundland, known as Joyce Lake.
Joyce Lake covers a total area of around 34,348 hectares. The property is located around 20 kilometres northeast of Schefferville, Quebec.
Century Iron Mines is Canada's largest holder of iron ore land claims and it is backed by two Chinese strategic partners through financing and off-take agreements: MinMetals and WISCO International Resources, a unit of Wuhan Iron & Steel, also known as China's third-largest steel producer.
Support from these two massive Chinese conglomerates, which are ranked among the Forbes Global 500 and are two of China's largest mining companies, must mean Century Iron has the goods to back itself up. In 2010, the WISCO group produced 36 million tonnes of crude steel, ranking as the fourth-largest steel mill in China and the fifth-largest in the world.
Last week, Century Iron reported recent drill results from its Full Moon prospect on the Rainy Lake area of its Sunny Lake iron ore project in Quebec, showing "substantial resource tonnage" support.