According a Globe and Mail article earlier this year, Canada is a testament to the prosperity of small businesses in the mining industry. The Toronto Stock Exchange and the smaller Venture exchange provide the trading venue for the largest conglomeration of junior mining companies in the world. As these companies move closer to the feasibility stage they provide a good source of new job opportunities, and exciting EPCM contracts.
Of these junior mining companies, TSX-listed Fortune Minerals Limited (Fortune) stands out as having some especially promising prospects. Fortune possesses two primary assets, a world class metallurgical coal deposit and a gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper deposit, which, according to Fortune Minerals’ Investor Relations Manager Troy Nazarewicz, are both currently in the development stage. Nazarewicz explains that both projects are in advanced stages of permitting and that Fortune is seeking strategic partners to help provide the project with financing for construction. Both projects are located in mining friendly Canada and are attractive to companies wanting to secure sources of the raw materials they require from a reliable jurisdiction.
The first of the two primary projects, the Mount Klappan Anthracite Coal Project is located in British Columbia, 330 km northeast of Prince Rupert. It is “one of the world’s premiere metallurgical coal developments” according to Fortune Minerals’ President and CEO Robin E. Goad. Goad says that the deposit has “Measured and Indicated Resources of 231-million tonnes and Inferred Resources of 359-million tonnes [which] illustrates [the] world class potential of [the] project.”
Goad adds that Mt. Klappan is the only significant anthracite coal deposit currently recognized in Canada and one of the few remaining undeveloped sites in the world. Measured by its carbon and energy content, anthracite is the highest quality coal and hard to find as it represents only one per cent of the world’s coal reserves. Countries with rapidly growing economies, such as China, Brazil, Russia and India, drive anthracite’s high demand. Mount Klappan is in the environmental assessment process for the upgrade and expansion of the railway and for the development of an open pit mine and wash plant to produce metallurgical coal products. Once in production, Goad says that that the deposit will annually produce three-million tonnes of clean coal.
Mount Klappan has already attracted the attention of South Korean steel giant POSCO which has made an investment for a 20 per cent stake in the project. According to Nazarewicz, by investing in Mount Klappan, POSCO is ensuring access to a long-term reliable source of metallurgical coal in a market of growing steel production and limited sources of supply of good quality metallurgical coal.
Fortune Mineral’s other significant asset is the NICO Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth deposit, located in the Northwest Territories, 160 km northwest of Yellowknife. This 33M tonne deposit contains 1.1M ounces of gold, 82M pounds of cobalt, 102M pounds of bismuth and 27M pounds of copper that are expected to sustain operations for 19.8 years. The deposit will be developed using a combination of open pit and underground mining that will be processed in a mill at the rate of 4650 tonnes of ore per day to produce a bulk concentrate.
Goad has cited that the assistance of Enterprise Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority have made Langham a preferred location for the mineral processing facility especially considering that according to Goad, “Power costs in NWT would be very high and threaten the economic viability of the NICO project.” A five-year tax incentive was passed by the provincial government for corporations processing imported minerals into the prime metal stage. The mineral processing plant is expected to create 85 permanent jobs ranging from metallurgical and chemical engineering and process technologies to trade persons and support staff.
NICO contains 15 per cent of the world’s reserves of bismuth, which is a non-toxic and environmentally safe replacement to lead. Bismuth is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, notably including bismuth subsalicylate the chief active ingredient in Pepto Bismol. The gold, copper and cobalt are also in heavy demand globally. NICO is hoped to be operational by 2015.
By EPCM World contributor Anthony Harvey