When the Tłı̨chǫ Freeway formally opened on Nov. 30, Fortune Minerals wasn’t the one mining firm applauding the brand new highway.
Nighthawk Gold is presently advancing its Colomac Gold venture, roughly 120 kilometres northeast of Whatì.
The brand new all-season freeway, additionally known as N.W.T. Freeway 9, goes about midway to Colomac. From a turnoff close to the group of Whatì, a winter highway goes the remainder of the best way. The seasonal highway passes by Nighthawk’s 930-square-kilometre exploration property, earlier than ending in Wekweètì.
The freeway ought to lengthen the season of the winter roads to Gamètì and Wekweètì, in addition to Nighthawk’s venture. That is as a result of crews do not should construct the southern stretch of winter highway anymore, because it was made redundant by the all-season freeway.
‘A wise funding’
Keyvan Salehi, Nighthawk Gold’s CEO, known as the 97-kilometre Tłı̨chǫ Freeway “a wise funding” by governments. The territorial authorities funded 75 per cent of the $185-million, two-lane gravel freeway, with the federal authorities paying for the remainder.
“For us, I imply, it is a fantastic begin,” he stated. “There’s nonetheless about 100 or 120 kilometers left to increase that freeway into the 2 communities which can be north of Whatì, and our property is form of located in between them. So there’s nonetheless a protracted strategy to go by way of further enlargement, however it’s positively a begin for our firm and our venture.
“We’re so much nearer to the all-season freeway.”
The brand new highway means Nighthawk has an extended window within the winter to truck gas, provides and tools to the positioning. As exercise on the Colomac venture ramps up, the added ice highway time solely turns into extra essential.
Based mostly on 10-year averages offered by the N.W.T. authorities, the Wekweètì winter highway is simply open for 40 days every year.
In the mean time, Salehi stated Nighthawk continues to deal with exploring its property by drilling down into established mineral deposits to higher perceive how a lot gold ore they include, whereas additionally drilling into new potential areas believed to host gold deposits.
The intention, he stated, is to extend the property’s gold useful resource, which presently sits at practically three million ounces of indicated and inferred assets. These mineral useful resource estimates present trade buyers with a information to how a lot gold is believed to be within the floor. The extra the corporate can develop that quantity, the higher likelihood the corporate has to lift the cash required to construct the mine or to have a bigger mining firm purchase their venture.
Salehi stated Nighthawk’s subsequent milestone is to launch a preliminary financial evaluation. This doc is basically a mine plan that gives an early concept of how the operation will run, how a lot it is going to value to construct and function, and what number of staff it is going to make use of.
“It is now right down to us at Nighthawk to point out the financial viability of our venture and what this may really ship by way of economics, manufacturing output, revenues, jobs and in the end taxes and royalties to the N.W.T.,” he stated.
The corporate hopes to launch that plan by late 2022 or early 2023. At that time, it is going to start the allowing course of with territorial regulators, and begin discussing future contracting prospects and affect advantages agreements with the Tłı̨chǫ Authorities.
Mark Brajer, CEO of the Tłı̨chǫ Funding Company, stated the connection between Nighthawk Gold and the Tłı̨chǫ Authorities’s enterprise arm has been constructive to this point.
“We have carried out just a little little bit of advert hoc work with them, however it’s getting just a little extra critical, the discussions now,” he stated, as the way forward for the operation comes into focus.
A Tłı̨chǫ Freeway extension?
Salehi stated all-season roads and connections to energy grids make it simpler for mining corporations to lift cash on capital markets, which permits them to develop and construct mines.
Nonetheless, he stated he realized it is a onerous promote to ask governments to construct tax-payer funded infrastructure solely for mining tasks. “This 97-kilometre freeway has been constructed. It was not carried out for us. It wasn’t carried out for Fortune Minerals. And that is the best way it ought to be,” he stated.
“Finally, it is received to have the ability to serve communities in the long term. Tasks like mining corporations come and go, proper?”
Nighthawk has centred a lot of its exploration on its Colomac Gold Undertaking. The corporate has been exploring the world since buying mineral claims and leases in late 2011. (The corporate modified names from Merc Worldwide to Nighthawk Gold in 2012.)
Between 1990 and 1997, 527,000 ounces of gold have been produced at Colomac, till then-owner Royal Oak Mines went into receivership.
Within the decade-plus that adopted, the federal authorities paid $149 million to wash up the property.