Critical minerals developer Fortune Minerals has selected a site for its proposed brownfield hydrometallurgical refinery for the Nico cobalt project in Northwest Territories.
The TSX-listed company on Monday announced that it had entered into an option agreement with JFSL Field Services, a subsidiary of an international engineering company, to purchase a former steel fabrication plant in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland near Edmonton.
Fortune would have six months to carry out additional due diligence to complete the purchase for C$5.5-million.
The proposed refinery would process concentrates from the Nico mine and produce cobalt sulphate for the lithium-ion rechargeable battery industry and their use in electric vehicles, portable electronic devices, and stationary storage cells to make electricity use more efficient.
In addition to cobalt, the Nico deposit includes a highly liquid 1.1-million-ounce in-situ gold coproduct, 12% of global bismuth reserves, and copper.
The 2014 feasibility study calculated capital costs of C$600-million for the Nico project, of which about C$250-million is for the refinery. Fortune said that these estimates would be updated to reflect current costs.
Fortune has already spent more than C$135-million to advance Nico from an in-house discovery to a near-term critical minerals producer. The company has received environmental assessment approval and the Type A water licence to construct and operate the Nico mine and concentrator.
The recent completion of the Tlicho highway to the community of Whati is a key enabler for the Nico development. This C$213-million, 97-km, public, all-season road, together with the spur road Fortune plans to construct, will allow metal concentrates to be trucked from the mine to the railhead at Hay River or Enterprise, NWT for railway delivery to the company’s planned refinery in Alberta.
"Cobalt, lithium and nickel are all minerals with huge demand in the modern world. Fortune’s new refinery is exactly the type of job-creating, diversifying investment we envisioned with our mineral strategy and action plan,” commented Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.