Unexpected regulatory requirements have NorZinc (TSX: NZC; OTC: NORZF) delaying construction of the winter road to the Prairie Creek project – and the start of production – for at least a year. The zinc-lead-silver project is located 200 km west of Fort Simpson, N.W.T.
In November 2019, NorZinc received the necessary permits to build and maintain an all-season road from Liard Highway to the mine site. As a condition to the project’s water licence and land use permits, the company is required to obtain additional sub-certificates referred to as management plans to be approved by both the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and Parks Canada.
NorZinc resumed approval of the management plan last May, working within the timelines and submitted the requested studies for the plan. The company has been notified that the regulators plan a lengthy review and consultation process, and they will not approve the plan in time to begin construction of the first phase of the winter road in time to start building in January 2022.
As a result, the company is forced to push back the start of production by one year, to the end of 2025. The preliminary economic assessment released in October, was positive, extending the mine life and proposing a higher throughput rate. NorZinc is planning to release an updated feasibility study in the second quarter of 2022.
"We are very disappointed that we have been unable to agree with the regulators on how to fulfill the permitting process in a timely, predictable and transparent manner,” NorZinc president and CEO Rohan Hazelton said in a release. "The company will, subject to financing, use this additional time to further advance engineering, optimize plans for the mine and issue an updated feasibility study in 2022."
NorZinc has signed benefit agreements with the Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band and Liidlii Kue First Nation for the mine and road. Those benefits will be delayed as will the economic benefits to the territory.
Learn more about the Prairie Creek project at www.NorZinc.com.