LONDON, ONT. – Fortune Minerals Limited has announced a 97-kilometre Tlicho all-season road project in the Northwest Territories has received environmental approval from the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.
The Government of the N.W.T. Department of Transportation and Tlicho Government received word of the approval subject to mitigating conditions on March 29, said a recent media statement.
The Tlicho Road will connect the community of Whati to the territorial highway system.
Fortune has already received environmental assessment approval to build a 49-kilometre spur road from Whati to its proposed NICO mine. When built, the roads will allow the firm to transport metal concentrates from the mine to its proposed refinery in Saskatchewan for downstream processing of cobalt sulphate, gold, bismuth ingots and oxide, and copper precipitate.
The Tlicho Road project consists of a new two-lane gravel roadway from Highway 3 to the community of Whati, including four bridges and one large arched culvert. The project will also improve winter road access to the communities of Gameti and Wekweeti. The routing for the Tlicho Road follows an existing brownfield land-based winter road route.
The project has been in development since 2012, said the statement. In January 2017, the federal government announced it will provide 25 per cent of the construction costs for the Tlicho Road through the Canada Infrastructure Fund. The N.W.T. government subsequently approved funding for the remaining 75 per cent of the cost through a private-public partnership.
Three consortia of finance and construction companies were shortlisted in 2017 to provide bids to design, build, operate and maintain the road over a 29-year period.
Subject to approvals and licensing, it is expected the winning bidder will be selected by the fourth quarter of 2018, with commencement of construction targeted for early 2019, said the statement.
Fortune’s NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project includes plans for a mine and concentrator in the N.W.T. and a refinery in Saskatchewan to supply resources to the lithium-ion battery industry. If the firm obtains further permitting and financial support, it aims to start construction of the mine facilities in early 2019 using the existing winter ice road and a new airstrip.
Construction of the mine, mill, concentrator and related facilities in the N.W.T. is expected to take approximately two years to complete, depending on ice-road logistics, while the refinery will require about 18 months for construction, said the statement.