Fortune, in connection with the new operation, is planning a spur road to connect with Tlicho for concentrates transport south for processing and then refining near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
As designed, Tlicho Road will be a permanent, two-lane gravel highway extending for 97km. It will stretch north from Highway 3 to Whati.
The price tag of C$213.8 million (US$161.2 million) will be 25% covered by the government of Canada via the P3 Canada Fund. The territorial government will fund the balance of 75% with a private public partnership (P3) structure with North Star - itself a consortium of Kiewit Canada Development and the Tlicho government along with design-build partners Peter Kiewit Sons, Hatch and Thurber Engineering.
North Star will design, finance, construct, operate and maintain Tlicho Road over 28 years at a contract total of C$411.8 million. The Tlicho government, Fortune said, invested C$16 million to purchase 20% equity interest in North Star.
Work on the road is set to begin this year and should be completed in 2022.
Production from the mine will be used for products such as lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, portable electronic devices and stationary cells for more efficient electricity.
Fortune also owns the Sue-Dianne copper-silver-gold deposit north of the NICO project; it is also a potential future source of incremental mill feed to extend the NIOCO mill's lifespan.