In 2002, Promithian Inc., the Nacho Nyak Dun Development Corporation, and the Yukon Department of Energy Mines and Resources engaged Hatch Associates Ltd. to carry out a high level evaluation of Promithian’s plan for a mining–steel manufacturing operation in northeastern Yukon. The plan involves developing the Crest Iron Deposit and the Deslaurier Coal Deposit for the purpose of producing high-pressure natural gas line-pipe and other steel products.
The Crest Iron property is one of the largest iron ore deposits in North America. Located approximately 225-km northeast of Mayo, in a remote area of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The total resource of the deposit is estimated to be in excess of eighteen billion tons of 46% Fe iron ore. A Preliminary Mining Feasibility Study was completed in 1963. Evaluation studies done between 1963 and 1965 indicated that, with a sufficient source of inexpensive energy, the ore could be beneficiated economically into a saleable Iron product with an 85% recovery rate. Ninety kilometers west of the Crest deposit is the 105 million tonne Deslaurier Coal Deposit.
An emerging regional market for line-pipe is envisioned. An international market for large diameter line-pipe could be accessed via the year round ice free port in Haines, Alaska. Other commodity-type steel products could also be exported via seaport into the west coast of North America.
A minimum size for an economically-viable steel mill in this context would be 1.2 million tons per year.
Upwards of one million tons of coal per year will be required to support the iron production process, directly, as well as to provide electrical energy for mining, benefaction, steel production, processing, manufacturing, and infrastructure requirements. Five thousand tons a day of iron concentrate will be delivered via slurry pipeline from a plant at the Crest iron site to the main steel mill and power plant site near the Deslaurier Deposit. Electricity from the main plant will be provided to the Crest plant via a power transmission line.
Promithian is of the opinion that this unique and complex project could be realized, subject to the resolution of a number of uncertainties and issues raised in the high level evaluation. These include permitting and access considerations, the timing and extent of development of the nearby market for line pipe, the beneficiability of the iron ore, the energy and iron unit production routes, and the availability of human resources. The project is being advanced to the Pre-Feasibility Study stage to more fully assess and define these issues as well as its economic viability.