The greatest economic attribute of the NICO deposit is the ore’s high concentration ratio. This means that a concentrate containing all the valuable metals can be produced using a simple flotation process. The resulting concentrate is less than 5% of the original mass and can be transported economically from the mine site in the Northwest Territories to a lower cost region for processing.
The attraction of Saskatchewan as a location for the refinery is primarily related to the availability of lower cost electricity and the support of the Government of Saskatchewan, which passed attractive tax legislation to encourage processing of raw materials that have been sourced from outside the province. Fortune owns the lands near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that is the proposed site for a refinery. The SMPP lands are located 27km northwest of Saskatoon and straddle the CN main rail line near the Yellowhead Highway. The site has access to nearby natural gas and reagent sources for processing as well as a skilled labour pool of engineers and refinery workers. This location provides proximity to the North American market and trade advantages from NAFTA as well as with the European Union.
The plant is expected to employ 100 personnel providing approximately $9 million per year of employment income, and will require services from local suppliers, contractors and consultants. The anticipated direct capital cost of the project, including the purchase of equipment, materials, construction, and services installation is more than $200 million.
The opportunity to source materials from other mines for custom processing and the potential to participate in the battery and metals recycling business could extend the useful life of the facility well beyond the 20 year anticipated mine lifespan of the NICO deposit.
Environmental Assessment Approval
The Saskatchewan Minister of Environment approved the SMPP in early 2014, concluding that any risks from the Project will be mitigated such that no significant adverse environmental effects are expected. Fortune will now begin the rezoning process for the land it owns for the proposed refinery and is moving ahead with the completion of management and monitoring plans, design details and preparation of appropriate reclamation security funding.
Community Monitoring Program
Fortune will continue to engage with the Rural Municipality of Corman Park, the towns of Langham and Dalmeny, and local residents to communicate the project’s progress and address concerns. The Company recognizes that metal refining is uncommon in the province and understands that engagement with local residents will need to be sustained throughout the life of the SMPP. As part of its commitments, Fortune will fund an independent community monitoring program. This program will give residents in the area confidence that the new facility is meeting or exceeding all environmental standards. Fortune will commit to fund this independent body, which will have the freedom to hire its own expert consultants to review the Company’s monitoring plans prior to and during commercial operations. Appropriate consultants will report to the committee and make recommendations to the Environmental Protection Branch and Fortune.