Fortune Minerals has entered into an option to purchase an alternative site to construct the proposed hydrometallurgical refinery that would process metal concentrates from its planned NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth-Copper Mine in the Northwest Territories.
Fortune has been in discussions for several months with a number of municipalities that have indicated their interest in having the refinery built in their jurisdictions. The option agreement was executed for a parcel of lands that has already been planned for industrial use and meets the Company’s infrastructure and services requirements.
Fortune has also been approached by other jurisdictions and agents representing landowners that want to attract the hydrometallurgical facility and the jobs and economic benefits it would provide. The Company will advance the municipal approvals required to develop the lands that are now under option while also evaluating the merits of these other properties, and will then select the best option for progressing the NICO project. Fortune is also completing an updated Technical Report for the NICO Project, which includes a lower capital cost start-up scenario of selling metal concentrates directly from the mine to defer construction of a refinery as an alternative to the vertically integrated development scenario.
The Rural Municipality of Corman Park recently rejected Fortune’s zoning change application for its lands near Langham, Saskatchewan after the Company had been encouraged to locate the facility there. Fortune had already gone through an extensive environmental assessment process that concluded, “The proposal was assessed to be both environmentally and technically sound, providing both environmental safeguards and outlining company plans to ensure Saskatchewan’s air, water, and natural resources are protected throughout the duration of the project and after.” The Government of Saskatchewan has indicated its continued support for the project.
Fortune’s proposed hydrometallurgical plant would provide for 80 to 90 full-time employees with an annual payroll of approximately $9 million. Using a typical employment multiplier, this would result in two additional indirect jobs for every employee creating another 170 jobs in the region. Contracting opportunities during construction are estimated to be valued at $76 million with annual operational expenditures of approximately $25 million, totalling approximately $525 million over the current estimate of the NICO mine life.
NICO is a unique primary cobalt deposit with mineral reserves that also contain more than one million ounces of gold and approximately 12% of global bismuth reserves. It is one of the few advanced cobalt projects located outside of the Congo to mitigate risks from the geographic concentration of supply in politically unstable countries and support near-term accelerating demand. Cobalt is used in a number of metal and chemical applications, but the greatest demand is in lithium-ion batteries used to power portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and stationary cells to store energy and make electricity use more efficient from off-peak charging. Bismuth is an eco-metal used primarily in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries and has growing demand as a non-toxic and environmentally safe replacement for lead in solder, brass, aluminum and steel alloys and compounds and alloys that leverage bismuth’s expansion properties during cooling.
Source: Company Press Release