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Crow Wing Power group works with firms to develop battery technology

EMILY - Cooperative Mineral Resources (CMR) LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Crow Wing Power (CWP), is working with firms to develop mine-to-market manganese based battery technology that could lead to extracting minerals at CMR's Emily Manganes...

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CMR is owned 100 percent by CWP with operations based in rural Brainerd. The power company is a member-owned electric utility, with the cooperative distributing electricity to 37,000 customers in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties.

EMILY - Cooperative Mineral Resources (CMR) LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Crow Wing Power (CWP), is working with firms to develop mine-to-market manganese based battery technology that could lead to extracting minerals at CMR's Emily Manganese/Iron Ore Project located near Emily.

CMR on Tuesday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Star Minerals Group Ltd. and Octopus Technologies Inc. (OTI) of Vancouver, British Columbia, to cooperate on developing the battery technology ( http://www.cwpower.com/content/emily-manganese-project ).

Char Kinzer, public relations manager for CWP and CMR, said manganese is beginning to be used in storage and long-term batteries.

"We're on the edge of what I hope will be an explosion (of that technology)," Kinzer said.

"There's a lot of steps. You have to prove you can process your manganese, process your iron ore."

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CMR officials know there's a considerable amount of manganese on the 120 acres near Emily, where it has mineral rights, but in order for mining to begin in full force it must be proved it can be extracted and technology must be developed in a feasible business model.

"We're sitting in a really good position," she said noting that there are currently no manganese-producing sites in North America.

With testing completed there currently is no activity at the Emily site and no known timeline for when mining might begin in earnest, she said.

"With mining projects, you never know what to anticipate," Kinzer said. "Our mining project is going to be a lot greener and simpler than some projects currently happening in northeastern Minnesota (because there are no sulfites in the deposit)."

Star is a junior mining company based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is focused on finding, exploring and developing strategic metal deposits for the battery industry, as well as other critical materials products for downstream applications in the green energy sector.

CMR is owned 100 percent by CWP with operations based in rural Brainerd. The power company is a member-owned electric utility, with the cooperative distributing electricity to 37,000 customers in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties. In 2009, CWP, through CMR, began work to advance the development of the Emily Manganese/Iron Ore Project located near Emily on the Cuyuna Iron Range. Crow Wing Power officials said in a news release the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a natural resource for the benefit of the local economy, the members of CWP and the state of Minnesota and to supply electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) to the steel industry and electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) to the battery industry. CMR has undertaken extensive work including exploration core drilling, bulk sampling at Emily and mineralogical and metallurgical testing at recognized analytical laboratories, and has been successful in producing EMM and EMD from samples taken at Emily.

In May 2013, Barr Engineering Co. of Minneapolis completed a report entitled "Mineral Resource Report on the Emily Manganese Project Minnesota." The report compiled available historic data and modern data from the CMR work to produce an historic estimate of manganese mineralization at the Emily deposit. Based on the report, the deposit ranges from 1.4 billion pounds of contained manganese grading at 16.48 percent manganese at a cut-off grade of 10 percent manganese, to 2.2 billion pounds of contained manganese grading at 9.2 percent manganese at a cut-off grade of 1 percent manganese.

The grading figures relate to the degree of richness of manganese in the deposit.

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OTI is an energy storage company which has developed a smaller, lighter, green battery that significantly reduces the cost of energy storage and is ideally suited for backup/standby power applications and smart grid management systems. OTI is in a strategic partnership with Kemetco Research Inc. in building the prototype battery for testing and certification. Kemetco also specializes in extractive metallurgy and chemical processing and has done extensive work for CMR on manganese metallurgy.

Star and CMR intend to enter into an agreement forming a joint venture to develop the Emily Manganese/Iron Ore Project. Should the technical and economic viability of the Emily Manganese/Iron Ore Project be established, it is the company's intent to fully develop the project. The initial focus will be to produce EMD to be sold to OTI in a off take agreement between OTI and the CMR/Star joint venture under terms to be established. OTI has, in turn, completed and signed a sales distribution agreement, for their storage battery with a significant global player in this market, the news release stated.

CMR and Star intend to complete and sign the joint venture agreement by the end of February 2015. OTI and the joint venture will also have signed the off-take agreement by the same date. OTI will have provided details of the sales agreement between themselves and the significant distributor by the end of February 2015.

Other conditions precedent to the final agreement will be due diligence by all parties, final terms between Kemetco and OTI on completing the test facility for their battery plant and final terms between Kemetco and the joint venture to build the test facility to produce EMD.

While the components of this mine-to-market business model are in their early stages, from mine development to the testing, certification and production of batteries, all the parties are in place to execute in a very timely manner.

Jim Engdahl, president and CEO of Star, in a news release said, "I am extremely excited about this project and pleased to be working with the high caliber of people from CMR and OTI in developing what has the potential to be an important type of storage battery for specific applications."

Bruce Kraemer, CEO of CMR, in a news release said, "We are looking forward to working with Star and OTI as the revolution of the green battery industry evolves and the demand for manganese as a critical component increases. Currently there is no production of electrolytic manganese in North America - a key factor for this continent to remain globally competitive in the green energy field."

Bob Wallace, CEO of OTI, in a news release said, "The synergies of collaborating with Star and CMR to bring the Emily mine into commercial production are obvious and very beneficial to all participants. OTI will secure a stable, long-term supply of EMD for its batteries while Star/CMR have a major purchaser for their production."

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