Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX: FT) (OTCQX: FTMDF) is pleased to announce that it has received approval for the NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper mine and mill in the Northwest Territories from the Tlicho Government, as well as from the Honourable Bernard Valcourt as Federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and on behalf of the Responsible Ministers (Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories). This acceptance of the Mackenzie Valley Review Board’s Report of Environmental Assessment and Reasons for Decision dated January 25, 2013, allows Fortune to complete the water licensing and land use permits process and to secure the primary permits required for the mine development. The Company is conducting site preparations at NICO this summer in anticipation of commencing construction in 2014, subject to completion of the project financing and receipt of all applicable permits.
Dr. Richard Schryer, Fortune’s Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs stated, “Approval of the NICO mine and mill by the Minister and Tlicho Government allows us to enter the regulatory phase of project permitting using information gathered during the review of the environmental assessment. Our efforts over the last few months preparing for this final stage of the permitting process will facilitate receipt of the permits required to initiate construction in 2014.”
Mr. Robin Goad, CEO of Fortune commented, “This permitting milestone at NICO contributes to the momentum the Company is building for the development of our two key Canadian mining assets. We are a step closer to our goal of transitioning to a multi-asset producer.”
The MVRB completed its EA Report in January of this year and recommended approval of the mine and mill. Acceptance of the Report by the Minister of AANDC and the Tlicho Government allows the NICO project to proceed to the regulatory approvals phase with the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board and other parties to develop the water license and land use permits. Fortune has prepared for this final stage of the permitting process and fully expects to progress in an efficient manner given the positive foundation already built during the environmental assessment process.
NICO is positioned to become a reliable Canadian-based producer of gold, cobalt and bismuth. Mining will be conducted primarily by open pit methods with underground ores also contributing mill feed during the first two years from the existing underground workings that were established from previous test mining. The ores will be processed in a concentrator at the site, using simple flotation to produce a bulk concentrate for shipment to a refinery and additional processing to high value metal products. The deposit contains Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves totalling 33 million tonnes containing 1,085,000 ounces of gold, 82 million pounds of cobalt, 102 million pounds of bismuth (representing 15% of global bismuth reserves), and 27 million pounds of copper (see Fortune News Releases dated July 2, 2012 and July 4, 2012). At the planned mill throughput rate of 4,650 tonnes of ore per day, the mineral reserves will sustain operations for 19.8 years. More than $110 million of work has already been invested in the NICO project including completion of Front-End Engineering and Design and feasibility studies, underground test mining, and pilot plant tests to verify the process methods. NICO is located 50 km north of the Tlicho community of Whati and 160 km northwest of the City of Yellowknife.
Fortune continues to work with Deloitte Corporate Finance Inc. to complete project financing agreements for the NICO project. Fortune recently announced a strategic investment by Procon Resources Inc. to provide financing to advance NICO and discussions are ongoing with several parties interested in participating in the development.
The disclosure of scientific and technical information contained in this press release has been approved by Robin Goad, M.Sc., P. Geo., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, who is a “qualified person” under National Instrument 43-101.
About Fortune Minerals:
Fortune is a diversified resource company with several mineral deposits and a number of exploration projects, all located in Canada. The Company is focused on the development of the Arctos Anthracite Project in British Columbia and the vertically integrated NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper project that is comprised of a mine and mill in the NT that will produce a bulk concentrate for shipment to a refinery for processing to high value metal products. In addition, the Company owns the Sue-Dianne copper-silver-gold deposit and other exploration projects in the NT. Fortune is focused on outstanding performance and growth of shareholder value through assembly and development of high quality mineral resource projects.
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We acknowledge the [financial] support of the Government of Canada.