An aerial view of the Nico mine site. Photo: Fortune Minerals
Fortune Minerals is one step closer to constructing a refinery that will process metal concentrates from the proposed Nico mine in the Northwest Territories.
The company announced on Monday it had entered into an option agreement with JSL Field Services to purchase its former steel fabrication plant in Lamont County, Alberta. Fortune now has six months to complete the purchase for $5.5 million.
Fortune said it selected the site for a hydrometallurgical refinery as it has existing facilities that it expects will reduce capital costs for the project, along with access to local services and utilities and the Canadian National Railway.
The Alberta government has heralded the project saying it will benefit the province’s economy.
“Cobalt, lithium and nickel are all minerals with huge demand in the modern world. Fortune’s new refinery is exactly the type of job creating, diversifying investment we envisioned with our mineral strategy and action plan,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.
The refinery also has implications for the NWT.
The company plans to truck metal concentrates from its Nico project in the Tłı̨chǫ region of the territory to Hay River or Enterprise for railway delivery to the refinery. There it plans to process the concentrates to produce cobalt sulphate which can be used in rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles, and portable electronics.
The proposed Nico mine is a cobalt, gold, bismuth and copper project outside of Whatì.
Fortune signed a socio-economic agreement with the NWT government in 2019 to “maximize northern and Indigenous employment, training, business opportunities and education” for residents in the territory. The company said it is in talks with the Tłı̨chǫ Government about a partnership agreement.
Robin Goad, president and chief executive of Fortune, told Cabin Radio in December he hopes the mine will begin commercial operations by the end of 2024 or early 2025