There are a lot of moving pieces to the Upper Kobuk Mineral Project (UKMP), but when all is said and done, the project in the Ambler mining district in Northwest Alaska is expected to produce copper, zinc, lead, gold, silver, and cobalt. Before that can happen, there are a number of steps that Trilogy Metals and its three partners must complete, including the receipt of critical permitting and the permission to build a private access road.
Trilogy Metals, which has spent $122 million to-date on UKMP, holds interests in two primary projects in the Ambler district: the Arctic project and the Bornite project.
"Arctic's a little further advanced [than Bornite]. We completed a pre-feasibility study that demonstrates that it's a very viable project. It's not a marginal project by any chance and we don't need higher metal prices for this to work. We just need a road," said Trilogy Metals President and CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse at an October Resource Development Council breakfast. "Bornite is still in early-stage exploration, but it's a much bigger scale project and certainly has a lot more potential to grow both in copper and cobalt, which is a strategic, critical metal. If you want clean, green energy in a clean, electric car that doesn't burn fossil fuels, you have to have metals to do all that."
Trilogy Metals partnered with NANA, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), and South32 to advance UKMP. The business arrangement with NANA involves giving Trilogy Metals access to about 350,000 acres of NANA land. In return, NANA receives net smelter royalties of 1 percent to 2.5 percent and the option to become an equity partner (16 percent to 25 percent) or receive a net proceeds royalty (15 percent NPI), For its part. Trilogy Metals is committed to promoting employment for NANA shareholders, as well as providing scholarships and ensuring the area's subsistence lifestyle is not interrupted by project operations.
According to 2017 numbers, nearly 65 percent of UKMP's direct hires are NANA shareholders. Nearly 50 percent are from the Upper Kobuk region.
"The real guts and the working part of the arrangement is the oversight committee and the subcommittees that work underneath that specifically address subsistence related issues, workforce development, and just making sure that we're aware of any community concerns. We've been working with NANA since 2011 and it's a great working relationship," says Van...