Fortune Minerals secures C$7.5m from Canadian govt for NICO project advancement

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In a significant boost for its NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project, Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX: FT) (OTCQB: FTMDF) has announced new funding support from the Government of Canada. The company will receive up to C$7.5 million to cover 75% of the costs for critical engineering and test work on the NICO Project, part of a broader initiative valued at about C$10 million under the Global Partnerships Initiative (GPI). This funding, provided by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), adds to the non-dilutive funding pool that Fortune anticipates from Canadian and U.S. government contributions, which totals approximately C$16.2 million.

Strategic Impact of GPI Funding

The funding is strategically aligned with the Canada – U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, aiming to enhance North American production of essential metals needed for the energy transition and burgeoning green economy. The NICO Project, situated in the Northwest Territories (NWT) with a planned refinery in Alberta, stands as a pivotal development in establishing a vertically integrated supply chain for critical minerals in North America.

Fortune Minerals announces C$7.5 million funding boost from the Canadian government for its NICO Critical Minerals Project

Fortune Minerals announces C$7.5 million funding boost from the Canadian government for its NICO Critical Minerals Project

Project Scope and Benefits

The NICO Project, with a development history marked by over C$137 million in investments to bring it from discovery to a near shovel-ready stage, involves constructing an open pit and underground mine and concentrator in the NWT. This facility will process concentrates to produce cobalt sulphate, gold doré, bismuth ingots, and copper, among other materials. The Alberta refinery will particularly benefit from the integration of feed sources from Rio Tinto’s Kennecott smelter wastes, a collaboration previously announced in April 2023.

Technical and Environmental Advances

The NRCan funds will support expanded test work to evaluate feed source variability, a feasibility study to assess the economic impacts of blending Rio Tinto sourced materials, and a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study. These initiatives are designed to build upon and complement an updated feasibility study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense under the Defense Production Act Title III.

Statements from Leadership

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, commented on the investment, stating, “Today’s investment in Fortune Minerals Limited will help advance supply chain resilience and create job opportunities in Canada – all part of our work to build a prosperous and sustainable Canadian economy that benefits everyone.”

Robin Goad, President and CEO of Fortune Minerals, emphasized the strategic importance of the funding: “The demand for Critical Minerals needed for the energy transition requires new vertically integrated domestic production from non-traditional ores and concentrates. Bi-lateral Canadian and U.S. government investment is therefore important to align mineral production with changes in new technologies, ensure security of supply, and support North American industrial competitiveness.”

Long-term Impact and Industry Positioning

The NICO Project not only supports the transition to e-mobility but also aligns with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards. It is poised to supply critical materials necessary for the lithium-ion rechargeable battery industry, pharmaceuticals, and other key industries, contributing to North American economic and environmental objectives.

The NICO Project’s development reflects a significant trend in the critical minerals sector, where government partnerships are crucial for advancing large-scale projects that are pivotal for the energy transition. This project highlights the strategic shift towards more sustainable and secure mineral production practices, which are essential for supporting future technological and industrial advancements.

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