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Wyloo Metals seals the deal in the Ring of Fire

Australian miner tables a socio-economic and green agenda to benefit Indigenous business and deliver a net-zero mine
Noront esker camp fox
(Noront Resources photo)

The Ring of Fire's newest player contends it will "set a new global benchmark in sustainable mining" in Ontario's Far North. 

Australia's Wyloo Metals announced April 7 that it has formally completed its acquisition of Noront Resources and its flagship Eagle's Nest nickel asset in the James Bay region. 

After Noront shareholders gave their blessing on March 15, the final court and stock trading regulatory hurdles have now been cleared. 

Wyloo now owns all of the shares of Noront that it did not own. Wyloo came aboard as Noront's largest shareholder in December 2020 and beat out BHP last December with a $616.9-million bid. 

The Perth-based mining company, which is making its first foray abroad, is arriving in Canada with a clean and green development strategy and a very progressive agenda on its path to bring development to the Ring of Fire. 

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The potential mine development will incorporate modern technology with Indigenous input to ensure Eagle's Nest is a "truly sustainable development." 

For starters, Eagle's Nest will be a net-zero emissions mine with the latest processes and technologies installed, Wyloo said in the release, to minimize the operation's environmental impact. 

Given regional concerns about mining in the James Bay region's fragile ecosystem, mine tailings will be stuffed back underground as backfill rather than stored above ground in a waste management area. 

Water used operationally at the mine sites will be recycled and Wyloo is investigating the possibility of using electric and hydrogen-fuelled fleet vehicles, both on surface and underground. 

Powering the mine site by wind power is a possibility and research will go into the use of ultramafic waste rock to capture and sequester carbon. 

In a news release, Wyloo reiterated its plans from last May when it first announced its intentions to make an all-out bid for Noront, that the highest and best sustainable practices would be employed to bring the Eagle's Nest deposit into production. 

Wyloo is pledging to form a "genuine partnership" with Indigenous-led businesses to enable them to "fully realize" the economic benefits with a set target of $100 million in direct contract awards to Indigenous companies. Also part of its commitment is a pledge to provide these companies with business support and the removal of any barriers associated with obtaining access to capital. 

The company wants to reach out to the communities to incorporate traditional knowledge and Indigenous expertise into its operation throughout the exploration and development process. Wyloo will establish a training and employment centre to provide "guaranteed employment" for graduating participants in providing well-paying, long-term jobs. 

Wyloo's timing to make its official landing in the Ring of Fire is certainly right with the skyrocketing demanding for nickel and other 'critical minerals' needed for the electric vehicle revolution. 

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"Wyloo Metals was founded to ensure a successful transition to a lower carbon future by supplying the necessary critical metals to the world. Today, we take an important step in our long-term strategy to become a producer of metals needed for a cleaner future," company CEO Luca Giacovazzi said in a statement. 

"We know this future can be realized by working together with our Indigenous communities and stakeholders. The Ring of Fire represents a transformative, multi-generational opportunity and we are committed to working closely with all stakeholders to create mutually beneficial industry and employment opportunities across the region." 

With the deal also comes Noront's three chromite deposits and other very prospective mineral occurrences on its sizable land holdings in the remote region, some 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The area contains copper, platinum group metals, titanium, vanadium and even gold. 

In the recent past, Giacovazzi has made it clear their intent to acquire Noront was to grab the prized Eagle's Nest nickel deposit. What to do with other valuable suite of metals on the property would be investigated. 

To address that, Wyloo will be spending $25 million on feasibility studies to investigate the downstream value-added manufacturing possibilities for "battery materials production" in Ontario. 

Canada has a valuable opportunity to position itself as a green energy superpower for the next century and beyond," added Giacovazzi. "The demand for critical metals is being driven by a once-in-a-generation industrial revolution, as we transition from a carbon-based economy to electrification and low-carbon technologies.

"By investing in Ontario's battery production capabilities, we will not only provide a secure, domestic supply of products for the emerging battery market, but also provide a source of critical metals that meet the highest environmental and social standards."