Fortune Minerals Limited is pleased to report results from the 2021 drill program on its 100%-owned NICO Critical Minerals project ("NICO Project") in the Northwest Territories ("NWT") and Alberta. The NICO Project is comprised of a planned open pit and underground mine, mill and concentrator in the NWT and a planned hydrometallurgical refinery in Alberta's Industustrial Heartland northeast of Edmonton to process metal concentrates into value added products.
The Mineral Reserves for the NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper deposit ("NICO Deposit") contain 33.1 million metric tonnes containing 37.3 million kilograms of cobalt, 1.1 million Troy ounces of gold, 46.3 million kilograms of bismuth, and 12.3 million kilograms of copper. Drilling was caried out at the end of 2021 in order to test four prospects that had been identified in earlier geophysical surveys and a 1997 drill program. The recent drilling succesfully confirmed continuity of cobalt-gold-bismuth and local copper mineralization in the Peanut Lake Zone, located 800 metres southeast of the NICO Deposit and also identified a potential east strike extension of the deposit.
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Fortune completed 13 cored drill holes in 2021, totalling 2,482.31 metres, supported in part by two Mineral Incentive Program ("MIP") grants from the Government of the Northwest Territories, totalling C$244,000. Four holes were drilled to test the continuity of mineralization at Peanut Lake where drilling in 1997 had identified multiple intercepts in five holes with gold grades exceeding 1 gram per tonne over 3 metre core lengths with significant cobalt and bismuth values. A new hole (21-008) was drilled to test the continuity of mineralization in a 135 metre wide gap between Holes 97-090 and 97-092, and intersected three significant intervals of mineralization, including:
- 3.17 metres, averaging 0.423% cobalt, 0.554 g/t gold, and 0.369% bismuth at a depth of 28.7 metres, including 1.05 metres, grading 0.995% cobalt, 0.247 g/t gold, and 0.562% bismuth;
- 4.8 metres, averaging 0.118% cobalt and 0.500 g/t gold at a depth of 8 metres, including 1.98 metres, averaging 0.261% cobalt and 1.135 g/t gold;
- 2.31 metres, averaging 0.108% cobalt and 0.874 g/t gold at a depth of 139.6 metres, including 1.16 metres, grading 0.203% cobalt and 1.635 g/t gold;
The 21-008 intersections correlate well with the earlier intercepts in Hole 97-090, located 78 metres to the east that included 0.355% cobalt, 1.105 g/t gold, and 0.049% bismuth over 3 metres at a depth of 6.4 metres, and 0.148% cobalt and 0.435 g/t gold over 3 metres at a depth of 57.5 metres, plus 0.123% cobalt and 0.14 g/t gold over 3 metres at a depth of 69.5 metres. The 21-008 intersections also correlate with the intercepts previously identified in Hole 97-092 located approximately 70 metres to the west, which included 0.113% cobalt and 0.885 g/t gold over 1.76 metres, and 3 metres, grading 1.82 g/t gold.
Holes 21-009 and 21-014 tested the strike continuity of the Peanut Lake Zone east and west of the aforesaid holes, respectively and identified multiple zones of lower grade cobalt-gold mineralization. These, together with the results of the five 1997 drill hole intercepts, indicate continuity of economically interesting mineralization over a minimum undelimited 400 metre strike length. Hole 21-007 overshot the mineralized horizon but provides useful information to define the trend and geometry of the Peanut Lake Zone for future drill delineation.
Six holes were drilled to test for an east strike extension of the NICO Deposit beyond a fault that was previously believed to terminate the east end of the deposit. Three holes (21-003, 21-015 and -016) tested for north lateral and depth displacement of the deposit beyond the fault and intersected economically interesting grades over narrow widths. Hole 21-015 intersected 0.110% cobalt and 0.599 g/t gold over 1.98 metres at a depth of 210.52 metres, including 1.08 metres, grading 0.219% cobalt and 0.312 g/t gold.
Hole 21-016 intersected mineralizaion, averaging 0.034% cobalt over 6 metres at a depth of 43 metres, including 0.92 metres, grading 0.042% cobalt and 0.111% bismuth. The three holes drilled to test for a south lateral displacement of the deposit did not intersect any significant mineralization. The 2021 drill program successfully identified NICO-style mineralization along the east projection of strike beyond the fault, but additional drilling will be required to identify areas with higher grades and greater widths in order to extend the Mineral Reserves into this area.
Two drill holes tested the strike continuity of grades previously identified in the Ralph Zone in 1997 and one drill hole tested the continuity of copper mineralization identified in the Road Cut Zone at depth. None of these intersected economically interesting mineralization.
The NICO Deposit and Fortune's 100%-owned Sue-Dianne copper-silver-gold satellite deposit ("Sue-Dianne Deposit"), located 25 kilometres to the north, are Iron Oxide Copper-Gold ("IOCG")-class deposits. Global IOCG analogues, including the Olympic Dam mine in Australia, typically occur in clusters of very large orebodies in similar tectonic and geological settings.
The NICO Deposit is locally open for potential expansion at depth. The 2021 drill program has also verified that there is good potential to delineate additional resources along the east projection of strike from known NICO Mineral Reserves, and particularly in the Peanut Lake Zone. There are also several untested geophysical anomalies identified on the NICO leases and surrounding areas. In addition, the Sue-Dianne Deposit remains open for potential expansion.
The NICO Project is an advanced development stage Critical Minerals asset to provide a reliable North American source of three Critical Minerals (cobalt, bismuth and copper). Fortune has expended more than C$137 million to advance the NICO Project from an in-house discovery to a near-term producer with a 20-year supply of Critical Minerals. The Company has received environmental assessment approval and the Type "A" Water License to construct and operate the NICO mine and concentrator.
The recently completed Tlicho Highway to the community of Whati, together with the spur road Fortune plans to construct, will enable metal concentrates to be trucked to rail head south of Great Slave Lake for railway delivery to the Company's planned refinery in Alberta. The NICO Project was previously assessed in a positive Feasibility Study by Micon International Limited, which the Company plans to update based on current costs and the project optimiztions it has identified over the past year.