Empire Mining (EPC.V) just announced they are placing the Bulqiza Chromite project on Care and Maintenance, after the newly issued exploration licenses contain material omissions regarding the size and coordinates of the project.

It is possible this situation could be rectified quickly, but as Empire points out they experienced bureaucratic delays earlier (we expected the exploration licenses to be issued before summer), they have laid off the Albanian staff and are putting the project on care and maintenance till this problem is solved.

This obviously is a major blow, as the main reason why we ranked Empire Mining as number one in our Mining Top was the fact that we anticipated initial cashflow by the end of this year. With all the delays in issuing the (wrong) exploration licenses, we now doubt they’ll be able to sell chromite before 2013.

The company will now focus on its Demirtepe and Karapinar projects in Turkey, where they recently announced two new large anomalies. After the necessary funds have been raised, they expect to start the Phase II drill program to start this winter, and we are quite confident they will prove up over 1B lbs of Cu Equivalent in all categories before the end of 2012.

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