Fortune Minerals Advances NICO Project Environmental Work and Rezoning Required for Construction

By Hamza Ghaznavi

Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX:FT; OTCQX:FTMDF) is pleased to provide an update on the progress of environmental work and rezoning efforts needed to support construction of the NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth-Copper Project in Canada (“NICO Project”). The 100% owned NICO Project is a development stage primary cobalt asset consisting of a planned mine, mill and concentrator in the Northwest Territories (“NWT”) and hydrometallurgical refinery in Saskatchewan to process concentrates from the mine to cobalt sulphate, gold, bismuth and copper. Environmental work to support the water license issued by the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board (“WLWB”) is being carried out for the NWT site. The Company is also advancing the rezoning of lands it owns near Langham, Saskatchewan to enable construction of the hydrometallurgical refinery. Fortune has already received its Environmental Assessment (“EA”) approvals for both the NWT and Saskatchewan sites and is working to secure Project Financing.

Mine Site Northwest Territories:

The Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board issued a Land Use Permit and approved the Type A Water License required to construct and operate the NICO Project mine and concentrator in 2014.

In 2017, with the assistance of Tlicho residents from the community of Whati, Fortune completed the study design outlined in the Supplemental Baseline Monitoring Plan that is a requirement of the water license. This work included additional studies on hydrology, water quality, benthic invertebrates, sediment chemistry, fish population and fish flesh chemistry in the Marian River and lakes near the NICO Project mine site in the NWT. The data collected has since been analyzed and compiled into the Aquatic Baseline Summary Report which was submitted to the WLWB on June 19, 2018. This report will be an integral part of the Aquatic Effects Monitoring Plan for operations and requires approval from the WLWB prior to construction.

Fortune is now modelling the quality of the seepage water expected to be generated from the Co-Disposal Facility (“CDF”) that the Company intends to build at the NICO Project mine site to permanently store waste rock and tailings generated from the mine. The results of this source term modelling will be used in the design of the CDF Management Plan, the CDF Final Design Report, and in the Constructed Wetland Treatment System pilot studies that are also required to be completed prior to construction. Fortune intends to collect cattails from the NICO Project mine site this summer for use in the wetland treatment study.

Pursuant to the requirements of the water license, Fortune is also in the process of completing the Geochemical Characterization and Management Plan. The Company will conduct a borrow source survey at the mine site this summer to determine the characteristics and quantities of soil, gravel, and sand near the proposed CDF location to determine the best options for cover material to be placed at closure. This information will also be used to develop the Interim Closure and Reclamation Plan.

Both the CDF Final Design Report and the Aquatic Effects Monitoring Plan require the input of separate expert panelists. Three expert panel members are to be appointed by Fortune, the WLWB and the Tlicho Government. The Company is in the process of organizing these expert panels.

Fortune has engaged Tetra Tech Inc. to conduct additional geotechnical work in August for the NICO Project access road from the community of Whati to the mine site and for the proposed airstrip. This work is being completed to provide more detailed information on the amount of fill and civil works required to construct these facilities and enable construction companies participating in the Company’s (“RFP”) process to provide more detailed quotes.

Refinery Lands Rezoning in Saskatchewan:

Earlier this year Fortune submitted its Comprehensive Development Report to rezone the lands it owns in Saskatchewan to Industrial. The rezoning is required to construct and operate the NICO Project hydrometallurgical refinery. The lands purchased in Saskatchewan were identified in consultation with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Economy and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority to encourage Fortune to locate the facility in Saskatchewan. Fortune held an information session in the community of Langham on July 5, 2018 as part of the rezoning process that is expected to be completed later this year. Government officials, Fortune representatives, and teams from SNC-Lavalin and Associated Engineering were present to answer questions on the proposed refinery and the re-zoning process.

Provided Fortune receives the requisite financing for the NICO Project and the remaining regulatory approvals in 2018, construction of the mine facilities could begin in 2019 and is expected to take approximately two years depending on ice-road logistics, which are required for construction. The all-season road is expected to be available for the commencement of production and transportation of metal concentrates during operations. The refinery requires about 18 months for construction unless it is deferred if the Company decides to initially sell metal concentrates. This construction timeline would allow the NICO Project to be in commercial production in the early 2020’s, at time when the global automotive industry is expected to increase electric vehicle production.

The cobalt market has had approximately 6% compounded annual growth (“CAGR”) for more than 20 years, primarily due to the increasing use of cobalt in rechargeable batteries in portable electronic devices. At current prices for metal, the value of the cobalt market has risen to greater than US$10 billion. Accelerated double digit CAGR is projected by auto OEM’s and cobalt industry analysts in the 2020’s, primarily from the demand in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles and stationary storage cells to improve the efficiency of the electrical grid.

The disclosure of scientific and technical information contained in this news release has been approved by Robin Goad, M.Sc., P.Geo., President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortune, who is a “Qualified Person” under National Instrument 43-101. The Technical Report on the Feasibility Study referred to above, entitled “Technical Report on the Feasibility Study for the NICO-Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper Project, Northwest Territories, Canada”, dated April 2, 2014 and prepared by Micon International Limited (the “Technical Report”), from which certain information in this press release has been extracted, has …read more

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