Noront Resources has announced the results of an NI 43-101-compliant prefeasibility study for a stand-alone nickel-copper-platinum group elements mine and mill complex to exploit its 100%-owned Eagle’s Nest deposit at McFaulds Lake in the James Bay Lowlands, Ontario. The study concludes the previously defined Eagle’s Nest mineral resource is economic and can be classified as proven and probable mineral reserves, totaling 11.1 million mt, averaging 1.68% nickel, 0.87% copper, 0.89 g/mt platinum, 3.09 g/mt palladium and 0.18 g/mt gold. An additional 9 million mt of inferred resources are not included in the reserves.
The Eagle’s Nest project area is located about 250 km west of the community of Attawapiskat on James Bay and 575 km northwest of Timmins. Project development, as defined in the prefeasibility study, is based on underground mining, with all major mining facilities, including the mill, located underground. Plant throughput is planned at 1 million mt/y. Initial mine production would be from an internal ramp, and production ramps would be developed after year three to access the lower levels of the deposit. All tailings would be stored underground as cemented fill.
Initial capital investment to develop the Eagle’s Nest project is estimated at $734 million, split between $500 million for mine-site infrastructure and development and $234 million for shared infrastructure and a slurry pipeline. Operating costs are estimated at $75 to $80/mt or $2.75/lb of nickel equivalent. Mine life is estimated at 11 years, with a three-year capital payback period.
The existing winter road from Pickle Lake to Webequie, a First Nation’s community 90 km west of the project area, would be upgraded to an all-season road. A diesel power plant would be located near Webequie, and a transmission line would provide power to the mine site. A slurry pipeline would be used to transport concentrate from the mine site to a filter plant located near Webequie.
The Eagle’s Nest prefeasibility study was completed by Micon, with technical input from SNC Lavalin, Cementation Ltd., Knight Piésold, Penguin ASI and Golder Associates. The next phase of the project will include finalizing the design concepts and the project execution plan and producing a final feasibility study sufficient to support debt financing for the project.
Regarding announcement of the Eagle’s Nest prefeasibility study, Noront CEO Wes Hanson said, “Establishing the first mineral reserve in this evolving mining camp is a milestone development that we believe will accelerate meaningful discussion on the infrastructure necessary to support development of this very exciting district. It positions the company to begin negotiating downstream agreements that will provide future funding for continued development of the project without excessive shareholder dilution.”