NorZinc Ltd. announced Dec. 20 that due to “unexpected regulatory requirements,” construction of the Pioneer winter road to its Prairie Creek zinc-lead-silver project in the Deh Cho region will be postponed by a year.
Consequently, production from the mine is also delayed by a year, now expected to begin at the end of 2024.
“This situation has resulted in a significant delay in delivering the project’s benefits to our stakeholders, especially our shareholders as well as the people of the Northwest Territories who have the most to gain from the project’s significant benefit by way of jobs creation and economic stimulus,” stated Rohan Hazelton, NorZinc’s president and CEO. “The Government of Canada’s stated strategy is to support the development of critical minerals, including zinc, which is the primary metal in Prairie Creek, and it makes this procedural delay even more disappointing.”
The road makes up the first phase of the company’s all-season access road.
NorZinc received permits to construct, maintain and operate an all-season road from Liard Highway to Prairie Creek in November 2019, but has yet to receive approval for its management plan.
The mining project is set to be a significant producer of zinc, a “critical mineral,” according to the company. Prairie Creek is expected to generate gross revenue of more than $6 billion. While the potential benefits to federal, territorial and local governments could exceed $600 million.
Leadership from the Nahanni Butte Dene Band, the community closest to the mining project, could not be reached immediately for comment.