FORTUNE MINERALS ANNOUNCES MAJOR PERMITTING MILESTONE FOR THE NICO PROJECT IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Developers Assessment Report filed with Mackenzie Valley Review Board

LONDON, ON, May 24, 2011 /CNW/ - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX: FT) ("Fortune Minerals" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has submitted its Developers Assessment Report ("DAR") for the Environmental Assessment ("EA") for its NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper project in the Northwest Territories ("NT"). The DAR was filed last week with the Mackenzie Valley Review Board ("MVRB") and represents a significant milestone in the permitting process for the Company's proposed mine, mill and related facilities. The DAR culminates many years of comprehensive environmental, socio-economic and engineering work that has determined that the NICO project is economically viable and that impacts to the local biophysical environment will be minimal.

"We are very proud of the development, operation and closure plan prepared for the DAR by our in-house team of professionals together with experts retained from outside engineering and environmental consultants", said Fortune Minerals President, Robin Goad. "NICO is a unique project that will provide long-term benefits to the Tlicho people and other nearby residents, and contribute significantly to the economy of the NT".

The NICO project is located 160 km northwest of the City of Yellowknife and 50 km north of the Tlicho community of Whati. The 31 million tonne deposit will be developed using a combination of open pit and underground mining methods with ores processed at the rate of 4,650 tonnes per day in a concentrator at the site over an 18-year mine life. Other facilities that are planned at the site include a camp to accommodate employees working on a rotation basis, ancillary buildings and a 27 km all-season access road that will join the site to the proposed Tlicho Road connecting nearby communities with the highway to Yellowknife. The mill will produce approximately 180 tonnes of bulk concentrate per day for shipment south to the Company's proposed hydrometallurgical refinery near Saskatoon and further processing to high value metal products. An EA is also underway in Saskatchewan to permit the refinery. Fortune Minerals plans to be a significant, reliable North American-based supplier of 99.8% cobalt cathode, 99.5% bismuth cathode and 99.99% bismuth ingot, gold doré, and by-product production of copper cathode and nickel precipitate.

Fortune Minerals has been collecting baseline environmental data on water quality, fish and wildlife populations, hydrology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, vegetation, soils and terrain, heritage resources, air quality, noise, socio-economics and traditional knowledge in the region of the NICO project since 1998. The Company has also had a long history of engagement with the Tlicho and other First Nations as well as government agencies. Collectively this information, together with engineering data, was used to prepare Land Use Permit and Water License applications that were submitted to the MVRB in November 2008. The project was referred to EA on March 2, 2009.

The DAR represents more than two years of effort by Fortune Minerals and it's consultants in delivering a comprehensive 3000 page document that will meet the needs of all stakeholders in the EA process. Scoping sessions were held in nearby communities to receive comments and concerns brought forward by the Tlicho people, other NT residents, and government regulators. Three primary areas of focus were identified for the DAR with respect to potential impacts to water quality, caribou and closure.

Since filing its applications, Fortune Minerals has worked diligently to refine the project design in order to minimize or eliminate environmental impacts during construction, operation and closure of the mine. Wherever possible, concerns of the Tlicho people documented in community engagement sessions were incorporated into the project design. Key improvements to the project since the 2008 design presented in the applications include:

  • Elimination of the mine rock management area in favour of a co-disposal facility ("CDF") where mine rock and tailings will be stored together. This significantly reduces the footprint of the project and its visual impacts, and also allows for more efficient management of water to mitigate water quality impacts;

  • The water management system has been optimized in terms of internal recycling within the plant, thickening of the tailings, and incorporating a high level of reclaim water from the CDF back to the concentrator. This new design has resulted in water withdrawal that is only about one tenth the volume initially predicted in the Class A Water License Application, and in significantly reduced effluent discharge volumes;

  • The process plant at the mine site will now produce a concentrate for shipment to the proposed hydrometallurgical refinery near Saskatoon. The metal refining part of the project was relocated from the mine site to Saskatoon to reduce capital and operating costs for the project, mitigate exposure to increasing energy costs, accelerate the construction schedule, and reduce environmental impacts. This relocation will result in a considerable reduction in the quantity of process chemicals that would otherwise have been shipped to and used at the mine site and was supported by the Tlicho Government.

Fortune Minerals is confident that changes to the biophysical environment from the NICO development will not result in significant adverse residual impacts to valued components of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, such as water quality, fish and fish habitat, traditional use plants, caribou, and other wildlife. Consequently, the NICO project is not predicted to have significant adverse impacts on the traditional and non-traditional use of these ecological components.

The DAR has concluded that NICO will have significant positive impacts on the economics of the NT and surrounding Tlicho communities, including direct and indirect employment, contracting opportunities for local businesses, and tax revenue. NICO will provide local and regional direct employment during construction of 231 jobs, up to 233 full-time jobs during early years of operations when the underground and open pit parts of the mine are both in operation, and 127 jobs during open pit operations. In-direct jobs are expected double these amounts. During its 18-year operating mine life, the NICO project will contribute approximately $128 million per year to the Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") of the NT and will contribute $24 million per year in revenues to the federal and territorial governments. Total GDP for the entire operational phase of the project will amount to approximately $2.3 billion. Fortune Minerals also expects to enter into a Participation Agreement with the Tlicho Government.

Rick Schryer, Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs for Fortune, stated that "Fortune is confident it has met the requirements of the Terms of Reference ("TOR") and we look forward to working with the Tlicho people, other stakeholders, regulatory agencies and the MVRB during the DAR review process to move this project to the final phase of mine permitting." Once the MVRB has completed its conformity check and confirms the DAR meets the requirements of the TOR, Fortune will proceed through the DAR review process according to the definitive steps and timelines established in the DAR work plan issued by MVRB. According to the work plan, the remainder of the environmental assessment process includes review of the DAR by interested parties, information requests to Fortune Minerals, technical sessions, a pre-hearing conference and a public hearing. The information gathered during this process will be used by MVRB to prepare its report on the project and make a recommendation to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs. Fortune would then go back to the Wek'eezhii Land and Water Board to obtain the necessary Water License and Land Use permits to construct and operate the mine.

The DAR and its supporting documentation are available on the MVRB public registry web site (http://www.reviewboard.ca/registry/project.php?project_id=72).

About Fortune Minerals:

Fortune Minerals is a diversified resource company with several mineral deposits and a number of exploration projects, all located in Canada. The Company is focused on the development of its NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper deposit in the Northwest Territories and its metals processing plant in Saskatchewan. Fortune Minerals owns the buildings and equipment from the Golden Giant Mine at Hemlo, Ontario, which have been dismantled, moved, and stored for relocation to NICO. Fortune Minerals also owns the Mount Klappan anthracite metallurgical coal deposits in British Columbia and has engaged Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance Canada to assist in attracting a strategic partner to develop this project. In addition, the Company owns the Sue-Dianne copper-silver deposit and other exploration projects in the Northwest Territories. Fortune Minerals is focused on outstanding performance and growth of shareholder value through assembly and development of high quality mineral resource projects.

This press release contains forward-looking information. This forward-looking information includes statements with respect to, among other things, the proposed development of the NICO project and the proposed purchase and development of the site for the Saskatchewan Metals Processing Plant ("SMPP"). Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the information is given, and is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. These factors include the inherent risks involved in the exploration and development of mineral properties, the inherent volatility of metal prices, the risk that the Company may not be able to arrange the necessary financing to construct and operate the NICO mine and the SMPP, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of required permits for the development of the NICO project and the SMPP, the possibility of delays in the commencement of production from the NICO project and construction of the SMPP and other factors. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on forward-looking information because it is possible that predictions, forecasts, projections and other forms of forward-looking information will not be achieved by the Company. The forward-looking information contained herein is made as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise it to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.

SOURCE Fortune Minerals Limited

For further information:

Fortune Minerals Limited Renmark Financial Communications
Robin Goad, President, or Barbara Komorowski: bkomorowski@renmarkfinancial.com, or
Troy Nazarewicz, I.R. Manager Christine Stewart: cstewart@renmarkfinancial.com
info@fortuneminerals.com Montreal Tel: (514) 939-3989, Toronto Tel. (416) 644-2020
Tel.: (519) 858-8188 Montreal Fax: (514) 939-3717, Toronto Fax. (416) 644-2021
Fax: (519) 858-8155 www.renmarkfinancial.com
www.fortuneminerals.com

 


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