With a funding announcement for a permanent Ring of Fire road expected shortly, Toronto-based Noront Resources is enlarging its land package in the James Bay camp and is devising a multiple mine development plan.
The company announced Aug. 8 that it has signed an agreement with MacDonald Mines Exploration to acquire a 75 per cent interest in their properties. The all-share deal is subject to approval from the TSX Venture Exchange.
Noront will issue $750,000 of common shares to MacDonald to earn the majority interest in the Butler and Sanderson Properties, two separate claim blocks that hold prospective zinc, copper, nickel and chromite deposits.
"MacDonald's Butler and Sanderson properties are excellent, strategic purchases," said Noront’s chief development officer Steve Flewelling. "They are highly prospective and further consolidate our land position, adding 35 per cent to our Ring of Fire holdings. Noront now controls approximately 75 per cent of the staked claims in the region, and we will consider every opportunity to increase our holdings as we are confident that the Ring of Fire will be the next major mining camp in Ontario."
Noront's cornerstone project in the Ring of Fire is the Eagle's Nest, a nickel-copper-platinum group element mine with an 11-20 year life. It’s project to create employment opportunities for more than 300.
In a news release, the company said it’s now waiting on Ottawa, Queen’s Park and area First Nations to jointly announce plans to fund a permanent west-to-east access road to connect the remote communities to the outside world by an all-season road, and also reach the exploration camp.
The company expects mine construction to begin in 2018 at the same time road construction gets underway. The first concentrate production begins in 2021.
Noront expects to access the mine through the road corridor to be shared with local First Nations communities.
Once Eagle’s Nest is in production, Noront plans to start the construction of its Blackbird chromite project.
The company said since acquiring Cliffs' chromite deposits in 2015, the technical data from Cliffs has been incorporated into a phased chromite plan with a development timeline.
Furthermore, a ferrochrome smelter will be constructed at a yet to-be-determined brownfields site in Ontario.
Noront said the Blackbird chromite project has the potential to produce up to 200,000 tonnes per annum of high quality ferrochrome which represents roughly 50 per cent of current North American demand.
Development of the Black Thor and Big Daddy chromite deposits will follow with a timeline dependent upon the ferrochrome market.