The Eagle’s Nest Project involves construction, operation and closure of an underground mine, processing facility, associated transportation and handling infrastructure. Tailings will be stored underground as paste backfill in mined-out ore and aggregate stopes (see figure 1). The granite-type rock taken from the aggregate stopes will be crushed and used for constructing roads and other surface infrastructure. The Project includes the following key components:
- An underground mine using state-of-the-art green-mining technology to minimize carbon use and impacts on the local environment;
- A concentrator facility to turn 1 million tonnes of ore into 150,000 tonnes of marketable concentrate each year;
- Site facilities to support mining, processing, and shipping.
Concentrate will be shipped by truck from the mine site to a rail transfer (trans-load) facility located near Aroland First Nation which is a distance of approximately 300 km. Concentrate will then be loaded onto rail cars for shipment via the Canadian National (CN) Railway to existing smelting/processing facilities within Ontario or overseas. The current Project life is expected to be 16 years and include the following four phases:
- Construction (3 years);
- Operation (11 years);
- Closure (2 years); and
- Post-closure (5 years minimum or until mine closure objectives are achieved).
The potential exists to extend the operational mine life by 9 years upon the successful conversion of Eagle’s Nest’s resources into ore reserves. This decision would be reviewed through a separate assessment process.
Mine Design Highlights
- Vertical bulk mining methods using blast hole stoping with cemented backfill.
- Mining rate of 1 million tonnes per year for more than 10 years.
- Surface access via ramps from a portal to the underground mine.
- Mining operations connected by continuing ramps to the lower production levels.
- Applying the latest automation and mining techniques.
- Maximizing usage of electric equipment to reduce fuel and ventilation requirements.
- Underground aggregate rock stoping to provide rock for surface infrastructure and storage for tailings.
Concentrator Design Highlights
- Concentrator has been designed for up to 3,000 tonnes of ore feed per day.
- Grinding ore in Ball Mills to produce a powder-like material.
- Separation of valuable minerals from waste using water, air and selected chemicals.
- Waste rock to be stored underground and tailings to be used as cemented paste backfill in mined out areas.
- Remaining process water to be treated and reused in the concentrator facility.
- Concentrate will be bagged in preparation for trucking.
Site Infrastructure Highlights
Our goal is to build the most efficient mining operation possible with a minimal surface footprint. The Eagle’s Nest site infrastructure includes the following elements:
- An airstrip (by Marten Falls Logistics);
- Accommodations, offices, warehousing and shop facilities;
- A mine portal;
- Diesel generators (at start, but renewable sources will be evaluated);
- Mineral processing equipment; and,
- Explosive storage.
On September 4, 2012, Noront released the results of its Eagle’s Nest Feasibility Study.
The discounted cash flow (DCF) for the Project, based on assumed metal prices from the 2012 Feasibility Study indicates the following:
- Initial project capital requirement of $609 million;
- Sustaining capital requirement of $160 million;
- After-tax net present value (NPV) at an 8% discount rate of $543 million;
- After-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) exceeding 28%;
- Estimated operating costs (including road access fees) of $97 per tonne; and
- Capital payback period of under 3 years, based on a 100% equity Project.
The 2012 Feasibility Study will be revised and updated when the project resumes. Noront plans to place most facilities on surface at the site of its existing exploration camp. Additional drilling since 2012 has provided more information on the deposit and additional samples which will be used to perform additional metallurgical tests to better define the extraction processes. Trade-off studies on design alternatives and the process test work will inform the work to update the feasibility study and prepare project execution and operations readiness plans ahead of construction.