Five in Five: NICO Readies for an Open Road

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January 19, 2021

As ITI prepares to participate in AME Remote Roundup 2021, five projects in the Northwest Territories are entering new and exciting phases.

We’re marking 5-days of Round-Up 2021 by talking to five companies currently exploring and developing NWT projects with huge potential.

Round-Up 2021 – Day 2

In the Western Tłı̨chǫ region, this will be the year the all-season road to the community of Whati is completed. That’s a huge step for Fortune Minerals, whose NICO mine will rely on the road for ground transportation.

NICO is a combined open-pit and underground mine with a concentrator at site and refinery in southern Canada. The main products are cobalt sulphate, the key raw material used in lithium-ion batteries, and the eco-metal bismuth.

There’s some copper, too, and a million ounces of gold.

Cobalt and bismuth are critical minerals whose strategic importance continues to grow. Fortune expects its mine to create 250 direct jobs in the Northwest Territories and 100 direct jobs elsewhere as it grows to meet increasing demand for cobalt in particular.

"It's an exciting time for the cobalt market right now. While we have very exciting demand growth, there are issues with potential supply risk," says Troy Nazarewicz, Fortune’s investor relations manager.

With most cobalt currently sourced from the DR Congo and many of that country’s mines controlled by China, companies are looking to lock up secure supplies of cobalt elsewhere. "We think we're very well positioned to have this project developed over the near term,” says president and CEO Robin Goad.

Meanwhile, the completion of the all-season road will benefit both the NICO project and the community of Whati.

“People need jobs,” says former chief and project consultant Charlie Jim Nitsiza. “The all-season road to Whatì will create a lot of jobs for the people. People are really excited.”

Unlocking Our Potential: Fortune Minerals from GNWT ITI on Vimeo.

Renewed exploration activity is needed to restore levels of investment, partnership, employment and growth in the NWT’s economy.

Under its “Unlocking Our Potential” banner, the GNWTs Department of Industry Tourism and Investment is promoting mineral exploration and development I the NWT in support of the GNWT’s Mandate to: Increase resource exploration and development.