The Prairie Creek zinc-lead-silver project in the Northwest Territories may set a record for the longest mine development undertaking. Mineralization was discovered in 1924, and the first underground work was carried out in 1970. Hoping to corner the silver market, the Hunt brothers bought the property in 1980. Work continued until more than 90% of the surface facilities was complete for a 1000-t/d mine. The demise of the Hunt’s Procan Exploration Co. and subsequent bankruptcy of then-owner Cadillac Explorations left the project tied up in litigation until 1990.
Since acquiring the project in the early 1990s, NorZinc and its predecessor Canadian Zinc, have made advances on several fronts from where the Hunt brothers left the project. On the technical side, they have completed more than 78,000 metres of exploration drilling in almost 300 holes, and expanded the resources. NorZinc also converted resources to reserves and completed the 2017 feasibility study and has made progress in building relationships with the various Indigenous groups in the region.
NorZinc has been granted all the major operational permits – water licence, mine land use permit, and the Liard transfer facility permit. The company expects to receive an all season BC & THE NORTHWEST road permit by mid-2019. The target date for mine start-up is August 2022.
A 1,200-t/d concentrator is planned with a new dense media separation plant between the crushers and grinding. Ore slurry will then undergo three stages of flotation.
NorZinc anticipates pre-production capital cost will be $279 million including a contingency of $26 million.
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