June 16, 2022
Essential to renewable energy and clean technology — for everything from batteries to magnets, solar and wind — minerals like Lithium, Cobalt, Zinc, Copper and Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are now also considered to be critical to Canada’s economic security.
This article is included in the Unlocking Our Potential Newsletter – being made available to delegates, this week at PDAC 2022 - the world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention in Toronto. You can download our June 2022 edition here
But supply chains globally are finding it a challenge to source these critical minerals. Here are five projects (and one more) that are in early mining and advanced exploration phases; and have the potential to place the Northwest Territories at the forefront as a North American supplier.
Mining for Rare Earth Elements (REE) is underway at the Nechalacho deposit at Thor Lake. This summer will see Cheetah Resources mine rare earth concentrate for the second time at the site located 100 km Southeast of Yellowknife. The mine aims to yield 5,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides annually by 2025. The mixed rare earth oxides from Nechalacho could be produced at low costs rivaled only by China. The company is building a processing plant in Saskatoon to further refine rare earth concentrate from its NWT project.
Fortune Minerals Ltd.’s NICO Project is recognized as one of the most advanced Cobalt development assets outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With more than $130 million invested in the project to date, the company says it is shovel ready to build itself as a primary Canadian producer of Cobalt, Gold, Bismuth, Copper from reserves that could last up to 20 years. For now Fortune Minerals is working to finance a mine and mill in the NWT and a processing plant in Alberta. Located near the community of Whati in the Tłı̨chǫ region, the newly opened Tłı̨chǫ highway means that once a 50-kilometer road is built from the mine to Whati, the product can be trucked to railways at Enterprise and Hay River.
Pine Point is an old mine looking for a new chance at life after a fresh look at the site’s deposits found the area still holds a large near-surface resource base, including 47 known Lead-Zinc deposits. Located between Hay River to the west and Fort Resolution to the east, the mine was closed in the late 80s and is still in the early stages of being reopened by Osisko Metals. The project is undergoing environmental assessment while also focusing on additional exploration, infill drilling and water management. The company plans to have a new mineral resource estimate and feasibility study when a current drilling pilot finishes in 2023. For now, it’s releasing an updated preliminary economic assessment this year.
NorZinc Ltd. is still scouting out financing for early stage exploration at the Prairie Creek Zinc and Silver project. But for this summer it’s planning a 5,300 meter surface exploration drill program. Exploration efforts are projecting a mine life of 20 years, up from a previous projection of 15 years. That’s at a rate of 2,400 metric tons per day. Because the mine is situated inside Canada's Nahanni National Park Reserve, permitting is rigorous and the company is facing setbacks to the building of an all-season access road. It’s early days for Prairie Creek, but the Zinc is high grade and having silver in the mix makes for favourable geological conditions.
The Hidden Lake Lithium Property is host to numerous Lithium-bearing spodumene pegmatite dykes, located just 45 km northeast from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail. So far it has targeted drilling at four of those dykes, drilling ten holes to a depth of 1,079 meters. Under direction from a new president and CEO, Formost Lithium Resources and Technology Ltd. (formerly known as FAR Resources) is mobilizing a drill rig at Hidden Lake. It plans to drill to depths of at least 1,100 meters to confirm deeper mineral continuity of the in-demand battery metal. Future exploration by the company will show the grade and tonnage of the resource.
…and this just in
Fireweed Zinc - Mactung Tungsten Project
The Mactung Tungsten Project is one of the largest and highest grade Tungsten deposits in the world and one of the only ones outside of China with the potential to scale. It is located between the Northwest Territories and Yukon in the traditional areas of the Kaska Dena, Na-Cho Nyak Dun (Yukon) and the Sahtu Settlement Area (NWT). A letter of intent was recently signed with the Government of the Northwest Territories. With promising geology, this project is set to showcase how projects can advance with ESG-I guidance as it moves forward on traditional Indigenous lands.