VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Federal funding for up to 25% of the construction costs for a new 97 km all-season road connecting Highway 3 to the community of Whati, in the Northwest Territories, augers well for project developer Fortune Minerals’ endeavours to secure financing for its nearby Nico cobalt/gold/bismuth/copper project.
“With cobalt and gold prices firming, and greater certainty of an all-season road, Fortune is well-positioned to secure the financing needed to begin construction of the Nico mine,” Fortune VP of finance and CFO David Massola commented Thursday.
The Tlicho all-season road (TASR) will be funded in part through the federal administered P3 Canada Fund. Procurement of the TASR – through a government of the Northwest Territories public–private partnership – will start with the release of the ‘request for qualifications’ in February, and will be followed by a ‘request for proposal’ and bids from private industry to provide combined finance and construction.
The TASR will comprise a new two-lane road and include four new bridges and one large arched culvert.
Whati is located 50 km south of Fortune's proposed Nico project, which has already received its environmental assessment approval and the major mine permits for construction, including a 50-km spur road to Whati.
Fortune said in a statement the TASR was a critical enabler for mine operations and would allow the company to truck metal concentrates south to the rail head at Hay River, for railway delivery to its proposed refinery in Saskatchewan for downstream processing to value added products.
With development of the Nico project, Fortune could become an important supplier of cobalt chemicals needed to manufacture lithium-ion batteries used in portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and stationary storage cells. The current Nico mineral reserves also contain more than 1.11-million ounces of gold and 12% of global bismuth reserves.