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Azure Minerals sees manganese resource upgrade on drilling at San Francisco project

Azure Minerals (ASX: AZS) is making solid progress with exploration at its San Francisco manganese, Promontorio copper-gold-silver, and El Tecolote copper-zinc projects in Mexico.

At the San Francisco manganese project, located in the state of Jalisco, Azure has now commenced a drilling program of up to 5,000 metres. The project has the potential to be effectively mined and processed with a high operating margin.

Tony Rovira, Azure's chairman told Proactive Investors today "the drilling at San Francisco will result in a resource upgrade, which we aim to have done in the fourth quarter this year.

"Feasibility study activities, particularly large bulk sample metallurgical testwork, are underway under the direction of Project Manager Gay Leighton."

The maiden JORC Mineral Resource estimate (Inferred) for the San Francisco deposit is: 1,045,000 tonnes at 30% manganese (Mn) for 312,000 tonnes of contained manganese.

Drilling will target resource expansion on a 150 metres x 150 metres grid pattern to expand the current resource along the mineralised trend to the north and northwest.

Further drilling will then be undertaken to convert Mineral Resources to Ore Reserves and to test additional exploration targets.

This resource expansion drilling forms part of the wider feasibility study and mine development program currently being conducted.

Concurrent feasibility activities include bulk sampling of the ore, advanced stage metallurgical testwork, process engineering design, mine design and permitting.

At Promontorio, located in the state of Chihuahua, the company concluded drilling in late July with 12 holes completed for 2,746 metres. Azure is  looking to enlarge the copper gold Resource. However, further drilling will be required to get the data needed for a resource upgrade.

Promontorio contains a JORC Mineral Resource estimate (Indicated + Inferred) of: 502,000 tonnes at 4.7% copper, 2.1 grams per tonne (g/t) gold and 99 g/t silver.

The drilling program targeted strike extensions to the north and south of the Mineral Resource (eight holes), depth extensions beneath the middle of the resource (two holes), and the Cascada gold prospect (two holes).

All Promontorio holes have been sampled and dispatched to the laboratory with assay results expected shortly.

At the El Tecolote copper-zinc projects the intensive $1.5 million exploration program for skarn-hosted copper-zinc and porphyry copper mineralisation, being conducted in joint venture with the Japanese Government corporation JOGMEC, is continuing.

The program has already completed airborne magnetic and electromagnetic (VTEM) surveys.

Tecolote covers 138 square kilometres and contains the now closed Tecolote copper-zinc-silver mine which produced 1.4 million tonnes (Mt) at 1.9% copper, 7.0% zinc & 47g/t silver in the 1980’s.

The project is located near to Azure's San Eduardo JV Project where OZ Minerals (ASX: OZL) may earn a 70% interest through expenditure of US$13 million, and its La Tortuga JV Project where Japanese government organisation JOGMEC may earn a 51% interest through expenditure of US$3 million.

Geological mapping and surface sampling are in progress and diamond core drilling is scheduled for later in 2011.

The VTEM and aeromagnetic surveys identified several anomalies with signatures characteristic of massive sulphide bodies.

The company said follow up exploration using IP surveys confirmed the presence of valid drill targets. On the ground exploration is continuing, and further IP surveying and diamond drill testing will be undertaken later in 2011.