I'll do my best, but I've never been known for being short.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to you, Mr. Benoit, and also to the members of your committee.
I'm going to be speaking in this presentation. I have Dr. Richard Schryer, who is our director of regulatory and environmental affairs, with me today. Although I'll be doing the presentation, he will be available for detailed questions on the permitting process up in the Northwest Territories and the other jurisdictions that we're operating in.
Before I begin my presentation, I want to speak very briefly about Hilary's and Don's prior presentations. I'm not going to be dealing a lot with labour issues, but this is clearly an issue we're dealing with in the Northwest Territories, the lack of skilled trades. I support very much what Hilary had to say.
I also support Don's major concern with the length of time it takes to navigate the permitting process. We initially filed our applications in 2007, so we've been in the process for about four years and still have another year to go. We're building a process plant in Saskatchewan for which we will completely navigate this permitting process in 13 months. Clearly, there is a big disconnect between these jurisdictions.
What I'm going to do right now is to introduce to you my company. We're going to talk a little about our projects and some of the issues that are impacting us, particularly with direct case examples of some of the challenges we're having. I'm going to talk about transportation infrastructure and energy infrastructure, which is also very important to developing in the part of the world in which we're operating.
First of all, here is a very brief introduction to Fortune Minerals Limited. We're based in London, Ontario. We're building projects in the Northwest Territories, in northern British Columbia, and also in Saskatchewan. We are a mineral development company making the transition to a vertically integrated mining and refining company. We have a very experienced board and management team with proven records in building mines and also in operating mines.
From there, I'm going to give you a brief introduction to one of our projects, called the Mount Klappan anthracite coal project in northwestern British Columbia. I know this forum is principally focused on the north, but this is in the northern part of British Columbia, and it involves issues with infrastructure, with first nations, and with red tape; these are also important.
This is a world-class asset of 2.8 billion tons. There is $87 million of work already completed, and we just secured a world-class partner in POSCO. The third-largest steel company in the world, from South Korea, is now our joint venture partner.
This project generates a very attractive rate of return, with over a billion dollars in net present value, based on initial capital of $768.4 million. The major issue, which we'll be talking about later as a case example, is that we're building a railroad extension costing $317.8 million to connect this project with the Port of Prince Rupert. We have infrastructure issues: building infrastructure, the cost of that infrastructure, and also access to port facilities. I'll be speaking to these more specifically later.
This project is in the environmental assessment process.
Our Nico project is also an unusual deposit, containing specialty metals; it's gold, cobalt, bismuth, and copper. It's a very advanced project, with $95 million of work already completed, including a positive, bankable feasibility study indicating a $361-million net present value.
The project is in the environmental assessment process. One of the major impacts we're going to talk about with this project is the cost of doing business in the Northwest Territories, which required our company to relocate the downstream processing facilities in Saskatchewan, which has a lower-cost environment. This is due to the lack of skilled labour up in the Northwest Territories to operate this process facility, but more importantly to the cost of energy. The cost of energy is of extreme importance in the Northwest Territories; we are using diesel-powered generation, at a cost of about $0.20 to $0.30/kWh, versus $0.057/kWh in the south.
Our hydrometallurgical process in Saskatchewan is a $200-million project. It's going to employ 85 people, and the major issue is shipping of concentrate from the Northwest Territories down to Saskatchewan, mainly because of the cost of doing business up in the Northwest Territories.
The first issue we have brought up is transportation infrastructure. Fortune's projects require significant investment in basic offsite infrastructure that require capital cost, reduce the economics, and make it more difficult for projects to attract project financing.
As I mentioned, Mount Klappan requires $317 million in investment for an extension of a railway. This railway right-of-way has already been constructed. It provides a brownfield transportation corridor to extend the railway to the site and will provide access to this world-class coal project through the port of Prince Rupert.
I think there's a role for government in providing for basic infrastructure, including roads, in facilitating other infrastructure developments, and in subsidizing those projects.
We're also going to be exporting our product through the port of Prince Rupert using the Ridley coal terminals. Ridley has planned an expansion, from 16 million tonnes to 24 million tonnes, which will be inadequate for accommodating the new mines planned in the northern part of British Columbia. Also, mines are planned in the Yukon.
New users are being asked to pay for the expansion, while the current users are not. I would argue that the expansion should be funded from cashflows and should be recovered from rates charged to all users of this facility.
The Nico mine also requires a 120-kilometre access road for shipping our concentrates south to Saskatchewan for processing, for providing access for employees, and for receiving supplies and services. This road will provide reliable year-round access to nearby Tlicho aboriginal communities, which are currently serviced by winter roads only. It will improve the quality of life in those communities and will reduce the cost of living. The road would also provide reliable year-round access to promote additional economic activities in mining, tourism, and power development, which is going to be the theme of my next point about operating in the Northwest Territories.
The Government of the Northwest Territories proposes to fund a significant portion of this road, but the aboriginal government and the Government of the Northwest Territories are arguing over jurisdiction. This is one of the other problems we have: just who is actually in control of things up in the Northwest Territories? Is it the federal government, the territorial government, or the aboriginal governments?
Roads generally provide basic infrastructure required by communities and provide access for sustainable economic development and investment in natural resources. They should be supported by all levels of government.
We talked a little bit earlier about energy. Both Mount Klappan and NICO require diesel power generation, even though they're proximal to hydroelectric power dams and potential new sources of supply. The cost of generating electricity using diesel power generation is about 20¢ to 30¢ per kilowatt hour, depending on the cost of getting fuel to the site. Escalation in the cost of energy forced our company to relocate the downstream processing facilities for our project to Saskatchewan, where we pay only 5.7¢ a kilowatt hour and where we have access to a skilled labour pool that can operate this facility.
Notably, the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories has just now decided to build a 9.2 megawatt wind farm to mitigate the rising cost of fuel. There are opportunities for expanding hydroelectric infrastructure in the Northwest Territories, including expanding the Snare hydroelectric facilities and the Taltson power facilities. But the Northwest Territories do not have the capacity for expansion, and their laws currently preclude forward investment in new projects. There are no plans for developing additional energy capacity that would attract industry. Power is one of the largest costs in developing mineral deposits in the north.
The Taltson expansion is currently on hold, primarily because one aboriginal group does not support the route and also because the power rates being proposed are not attractive for the diamond mines because of the high capital cost of installing transmission lines for this new source.
The Tlicho, the first nations group operating in our mining area, are interested in building a run-of-river hydroelectric project. This would supply power not only to our mine site but also to their communities, which are running on diesel.
It's important to note that both the B.C. and Canadian governments are currently funding extension of the electrical grid in northwestern British Columbia. I think this is a good template for other investments in basic infrastructure by the government.
Land claims continue to be a significant concern in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia. First nations are typically frustrating mineral development to achieve their objectives. The permitting process is being used by first nations to highlight land claims issues.
Settled land claims have implementation issues that have not been addressed. For example, our project is in the area of the Tlicho settlement, which has a settled land claim with the federal and Northwest Territories governments. But there's a moratorium on development on the Tlicho fee-simple lands while land use planning is in preparation, and this continues to get delayed because of a lack of capacity.
Right now the Tlicho First Nation is litigating the Mackenzie Valley review board to determine who has the right to make decisions in their territory. There's a lack of capacity to participate in the permitting processes. That is a concern for first nations and causes delays in the permitting process. The issues of consultation and accommodation are typically passed on to companies.
I want to quickly get to the last issue, which is government red tape. We have been in the permitting process now for four years. It takes too long, and expectations for work are escalating in both British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, while jurisdictions like Saskatchewan and Quebec are quite efficient.
The recent Red Chris court decision requires integration of federal and provincial processes, and that is compounding the inefficiencies. Boards are inconsistent in their administration of project files and constantly raising the bar. Boards are limited by a lack of staff and funding. Federal and Northwest Territories departments are understaffed and often not experienced with mining. The level of effort and procedures for aboriginal consultation and community engagement are unclear and becoming increasingly onerous for developers. Timelines for the entire permitting process need to be defined and adhered to so that project planning can take place with certainty. The entire permitting process needs to be defined: protocols and timing of access, socio-economic, environmental agreements, etc.
There are some case studies in my deck, and you can read them separately, but I want to conclude by stressing the importance of mining in the Northwest Territories. The vast majority of mineral projects in Canada are developed by junior mining companies that must raise funds in capital markets to advance their projects. The lack of certainty and permitting timelines are the greatest concerns to potential investors.
Fortune's projects will make significant contributions to the economies of Canada, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan, with a total investment of $1.143 billion planned for these three projects. They will also result in 650 full-time jobs. Base-case commodity price assumptions will generate combined revenues of $682 million per year, with a cash operating cost of $440 million per year.
Nico in the Northwest Territories is the smallest project and will generate significant benefits to the Northwest Territories and the Canadian economy.
We want to make it clear that there are some issues impacting mineral development in the Northwest Territories, and they're causing a lot of harm to junior developers. The government basically needs to address issues of infrastructure and first nations, as well as a clear regulatory environment.
Thanks so much.