VANCOUVER — Canadian Zinc Corporation has announced that the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board has recommended approval of a proposed all-season road for the company’s Prairie Creek Mine, in the Northwest Territories.
The mine already has extensive infrastructure in place including five kilometres of underground workings on three levels, a 1,000-tonne-per-day mill, a fleet of heavy duty and light duty surface vehicles, three surface exploration diamond drill rigs, camp accommodation, maintenance and water treatment facilities and a 1,000-metre-long gravel airstrip, the statement indicates.
In 2016, the company completed a preliminary feasibility study that forecasts average annual production of 60,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 55,000 tonnes of lead concentrate containing a total of 86 million pounds of zinc, 82 million pounds of lead and 1.7 million ounces of silver in both zinc and lead concentrates.
Alan Taylor, COO of Canadian Zinc, said in the statement that the support of the Nahanni Butte Dene Band was recognized by the review board in its decision.
"This is an important milestone for the Prairie Creek project and Canadian Zinc Corporation," stated John Kearney, chairman and chief executive of the firm.
"Having successfully completed the environmental assessment and secured the recommendation of the review board that development of the all-season road be approved, we will now proceed to quickly finalize the definitive feasibility study and pursue financing for the construction and development of the Prairie Creek Mine."
The review took four years. The EA report has been forwarded to the federal minister of crown-indigenous relations and northern affairs, with a recommendation that the development be approved, subject to the measures described in the report.
Canadian Zinc said in the statement that development of the road will enable the transportation of concentrates and supplies throughout the year.
The road will also have the potential to reduce energy costs and enable the use of more environmentally friendly alternative energy sources, as local gas fields in the Northwest Territories would be a source of LNG which has the potential to reduce reliance on diesel fuel, the statement said.
The all season road follows the general route of Canadian Zinc’s permitted winter road, overlapping it for approximately half of the route. Part of the road will be built on the floodplain of Sundog Creek in Nahanni Park.
Mine trucks will haul concentrate to the Laird River, which will be crossed by a ferry or ice bridge to reach the Liard Highway, averaging 12 to 18 roundtrips per day, to a maximum of 25 trips per day. Trucks will also haul fuel and equipment, mine supplies and personnel.
In addition, the project will include construction camps and staging areas along the road and 80 possible borrow locations. It will also require 112 minor stream crossings and 17 major stream crossings, according to the environmental report. The review board wrote it found the project is likely to have "significant adverse impacts" on the environment, and has prescribed measures that will mitigate these impacts.