LONDON, ON, Oct. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX-FT) (OTCQX-FTMDF) ("Fortune" or the "Company") (www.fortuneminerals.com) is pleased to report the closing of the public registry for the Environmental Assessment ("EA") review process to permit the mine and mill for the Company's 100% owned NICO gold-cobalt-bismuth-copper project in the Northwest Territories ("NT"). The Mackenzie Valley Review Board ("MVRB") closed the registry on October 22, 2012 after receiving the final arguments from the Company. The MVRB is now preparing its Report of Environmental Assessment that will contain the recommendation on the project to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. This report is to be completed within 90 days and will then be placed on the public registry, pending Ministerial review.
Dr. Richard Schryer, Fortune's Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs, commented, "We are very confident that, with the refined project design and the impact mitigation measures in place, NICO will not have a significant adverse impact on the environment, and the project will provide significant economic benefits to the nearby Tlicho communities and economy of the NT."
The final two days of public hearings for the NICO project were held in the community of Behchoko on October 10 and 11, 2012. These additional public hearing days were scheduled to allow the MVRB and other participants in the EA to consider the information collected in the Tlicho Government's Traditional Knowledge ("TK") report. In the spirit of the Co-operative Relationship Agreement signed with the Tlicho Government in 2011 (see November 8, 2011 news release), Fortune funded this TK study. A summary of the study results and information on the NICO Project Access Road were presented on the first day, whilst the final day was dedicated to a public venue for residents to provide comments on the project to the MVRB. Notably, the Company was not assigned any undertakings as a result of these additional two days of public hearings and Fortune believes that it adequately addressed the few remaining environmental concerns associated with the project.
Fortune is also advancing towards the completion of the EA process in Saskatchewan to permit its planned hydrometallurgical refinery, the Saskatchewan Metals Processing Plant ("SMPP"), where Fortune will process NICO concentrates to high value metal products. On September 20, 2012, Fortune submitted its addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") to the Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment Branch ("SEAB"). After review, SEAB will post the EIS, technical review comments and addendum for public comment, followed by SEAB's recommendation to the Saskatchewan Minister of Environment.
Fortune is also pleased to report that it recently joined the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business's ("CCAB") Progressive Aboriginal Relations ("PAR") program at the Committed Level. The PAR program is the first and only corporate responsibility assurance program in the world with an emphasis on aboriginal relations. Over the past year, Fortune has worked with guidance and support from the CCAB to document practices, policies and behaviours that quantify and validate the Company's commitment to positive and progressive aboriginal relations. The Company has been assessed to be performing at the Gold Level and is striving for formal recognition at this level in due course through completion of the certification process.
Bill Shepard, Fortune's Procurement and Logistics Manager, commented, "I take great pride from being part of an organization that considers positive and progressive aboriginal relations key to its success. Our Company is very appreciative of the acknowledgement it received from the CCAB through the PAR program."