FREDERICTON, N.B. — The federal government has approved an open-pit tungsten and molybdenum mine to be developed near Stanley, N.B., about 100 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.
The project would be the first North American mine for tungsten, a mineral with the highest melting point (3422 C) of all pure metals and a hardness similar to diamonds.
Project proponent is the Sisson Project Limited Partnership, which includes Northcliff Resources Ltd. of Vancouver and Todd Minerals of New Zealand. A online Sisson project statement said capital development of the mine will cost $579 million and create 500 construction jobs. The lifespan of the mine is expected to be 27 years with 300 permanent jobs created, noted Sisson.
Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc attended a media conference late last month to announce the federal go-ahead. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
The Sisson project will be developed as a conventional mining operation, said the proponent.
Site facilities are expected to include an open pit, mineral processing facilities to produce tungsten and molybdenum concentrates and ammonium paratungstate, a water treatment plant, a tailings storage facility and ancillary buildings including offices, a laboratory and a warehouse.
The project is located on Crown land in central New Brunswick, near the communities of Napadogan, Juniper and Stanley.
The project area is well served by local and regional infrastructure including highways, roads, railways, deep sea ports and power lines, said Sisson. The site footprint will be 14.5 square kilometres.
Tungsten is used for carbide cutting tools, in X-ray tubes and in alloys that are used to manufacture such products as rocket engines, watches, jewellery, golf clubs and strings for guitars. Geological investigation of the site began in 1978 and by 2010 drilling had produced enough positive results that a feasibility study was undertaken.
Northcliff completed and submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study to the provincial and federal levels of government in 2013 and the project received provincial EIA approval on Dec. 3, 2015 with 40 conditions.
Jacobs Minerals Canada Inc. was awarded the Value and Basic Engineering contract for the project to develop engineering plans in 2014.
China is now the world leader in tungsten production. The Sisson project is said to have the potential to become one of the leading world producers.