Fortune Minerals Limited ("Fortune") ( www.fortuneminerals.com ) and Rio Tinto are collaborating to develop technology that will improve recovery of the critical minerals cobalt and bismuth. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the companies, testing will be done at Rio Tinto Kennecott's integrated copper mining and smelting operations in Utah and at Fortune's planned Alberta Refinery.
The partnership aims to maximize the value of critical mineral supply chain investments and increase Fortune's planned cobalt and bismuth refining operations to process co-product streams of the minerals recovered from the Kennecott smelter.
In 2020, the Canadian and U.S. governments signed a Joint Action Plan on Critical Mineral Collaboration to enable more North American production of the Critical Minerals needed in new technologies. Cobalt and bismuth are both included in this list and are used for sustainable energy resources. Fortune and Rio Tinto are pleased to establish this partnership and work together to expand North American supply chains.
Cobalt is used to manufacture lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and store energy in electric vehicles, portable electronics, and stationary storage cells. Bismuth is used in automotive coatings, paints, and low temperature alloys and castings. Consumption is growing primarily as a non-toxic and environmentally safe replacement for lead for products used in potable drinking water sources and electronics, glass, and ammunition. A significant new use for bismuth is in environmentally safe, high density plugs to properly decommission oil and gas wells, preventing greenhouse gas leakage, blowouts, and aquifer contamination. Manganese-bismuth magnets have also been identified for potential replacement of rare earth elements in electric vehicle powertrains.
Robin Goad, President and CEO of Fortune Minerals said, "Working with Rio Tinto to recover metals from their co-product streams is part of our corporate strategy to expand production of critical minerals, and we are excited to be working with one of the world's premier mining companies on the first of these opportunities. This collaboration could provide a solution to support greater production of the metals needed for the energy transition and growing sustainable economy."
Rio Tinto Kennecott Managing Director Nate Foster commented, "We are committed to find better ways to provide the materials the world needs to grow and decarbonize. We are enthusiastic about this partnership with Fortune Minerals as we continue looking at our waste streams to develop new, sustainable sources of critical minerals here in North America."
Rio Tinto is a multinational diversified mining company with a global footprint that includes the world-class Kennecott integrated operations outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. For 120 years, Kennecott has been mining and processing copper and other minerals including gold, silver, molybdenum and tellurium from the rich ore body of the Bingham Canyon Mine.
Fortune is developing its 100 percent owned, vertically integrated NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth-Copper Project in Canada. This Critical Minerals asset is comprised of a planned mine, mill and concentrator in the Northwest Territories and a related hydrometallurgical refinery in Alberta where concentrates from the mine would be processed.
Fortune and Rio Tinto are working together to assess different process methods and technology options to recover the bismuth and cobalt contained in Kennecott's smelter waste streams. This includes assessing the effectiveness of blending Rio Tinto's intermediate products with NICO Project concentrates and conducting batch recovery tests using Fortune's refinery flow sheets.
About Fortune Minerals:
Fortune is a Canadian mining company focused on developing the vertically integrated NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth-Copper Critical Minerals project in the Northwest Territories and Alberta. The NICO Project consists of a planned open pit and underground mine and concentrator and a related refinery in Alberta where the Company will process concentrates from the mine to value added metals and chemicals. The NICO Project is an advanced development stage asset that has received environmental assessment approval and the major mine permits for the Northwest Territories facilities. The NICO Project has been assessed in positive Feasibility and Front-End Engineering and Design studies that will be updated to reflect recent project optimizations and the new proposed refinery site in Alberta.
This press release contains forward-looking information and forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities legislation. This forward-looking information includes statements with respect to, among other things, a commercially feasible collaboration with Rio Tinto to expand critical minerals production, the successful construction and completion of the proposed hydrometallurgical refinery at the Alberta site, and the Company's plans to develop the NICO Project, including the development and construction of the planned NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper mine and concentrator. Forward-looking information is based on the opinions and estimates of management as well as certain assumptions at the date the information is given (including, in respect of the forward-looking information contained in this press release, assumptions regarding: the feasible collaboration with Rio Tinto, the Company's ability to secure the necessary financing, the Company's ability to complete construction of a NICO Project refinery; the Company's ability to arrange the necessary financing to continue operations and develop the NICO Project; the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals for the construction and operation of the NICO Project, including the planned NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper mine and concentrator and the timing thereof; growth in the demand for cobalt; the time required to construct the NICO Project; and the economic environment in which the Company will operate in the future, including the price of gold, cobalt and other by-product metals, anticipated costs and the volumes of metals to be produced at the NICO Project). However, such forward-looking information is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. These factors include the risks that global geopolitical situations may interfere with the Company's ability to continue development of the NICO Project, the MOU with Rio Tinto may not result in a commercially feasible or mutually beneficial relationship, the Company may not be able to finance and develop NICO on favourable terms or at all, uncertainties with respect to the receipt or timing of required permits, approvals and agreements for the development of the NICO Project, including the related hydrometallurgical refinery, the construction of the NICO Project may take longer than anticipated, the Company may not be able to secure offtake agreements for the metals to be produced at the NICO Project, the Sue-Dianne Property may not be developed to the point where it can provide mill feed to the NICO Project, the inherent risks involved in the exploration and development of mineral properties and in the mining industry in general, the market for products that use cobalt or bismuth may not grow to the extent anticipated, the future supply of cobalt and bismuth may not be as limited as anticipated, the risk of decreases in the market prices of cobalt, bismuth and other metals to be produced by the NICO Project, discrepancies between actual and estimated Mineral Resources or between actual and estimated metallurgical recoveries, uncertainties associated with estimating Mineral Resources and Reserves and the risk that even if such Mineral Resources prove accurate the risk that such Mineral Resources may not be converted into Mineral Reserves once economic conditions are applied, the Company's production of cobalt, bismuth and other metals may be less than anticipated and other operational and development risks, market risks and regulatory risks. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on forward-looking information because it is possible that predictions, forecasts, projections, and other forms of forward-looking information will not be achieved by the Company. The forward-looking information contained herein is made as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise it to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.