Wyloo Metals made a big splash last year with its battle against Australian behemoth BHP (NYSE: BHP; LSE: BHP; ASX: BHP) for control of Ring of Fire junior Noront Resources.
The private, Western Australia-based company, owned by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Tattarang investment group, outlined its vision for Noront’s high-grade nickel-copper-PGM Eagle’s Nest project early on. The miner plans to build a net-zero mine that would process the nickel in-province and create a ‘future metals hub’ while awarding C$100 million ($77.5m) worth of contracts to First Nations-owned businesses and establishing a training and employment centre for northern and Indigenous communities.
And most importantly, perhaps, it promised movement on a project that has been stalled by a lack of infrastructure and by disagreement among First Nations on development, invoking Forrest’s experience as founder of major iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG).
“Seventeen years ago, people told me Fortescue’s deposits would never be mined because there was no infrastructure to access our projects. We proved those critics totally wrong and we want to do the same in the Ring of Fire,“ said Andrew Forrest in a press release last year during the takeover battle for Noront.
After emerging victorious from the “fierce battle” with BHP and closing the acquisition of Noront in April, Wyloo is wasting no time getting to work.
In early June, the private Australian company reopened the Esker exploration camp in Ontario’s James Bay Lowlands for the first time in three years. The company then began a 3,000-metre drilling program at Blue Jay — the first of 76 targets it intends to drill in the Ring of Fire.
The acquisition includes five existing high-grade orebodies: Eagles nest (nickel-copper-PGMs), McFaulds (copper-zinc) and the Blackbird, Big Daddy and Black Thor chromite deposits.
However, Wyloo CEO Luca Giacovazzi says that although those deposits have potential to be mined, the main attraction of Noront’s Ring of Fire claims was the exploration potential.
“We love the existing mines, but we thought, wow, these guys have just scratched the surface of the exploration potential here,” said Giacovazzi in an exclusive interview at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in mid-June.
“Exploration-wise, the Ring of Fire must be one of the most exciting packages of ultramafic rocks in a mining friendly jurisdiction.”