Izok Lake mine rising from the dead?

Bathurst port-road could get major boost


The Kitikmeot region’s long-dormant Izok Lake lead-zinc project now has a new owner — fast-rising Wolfden Resources Inc., who are also the developers of the promising High Lake copper-zinc-gold-silver project in the same region.

This past Tuesday, Wolfden announced that it’s acquiring Izok Lake from its previous owner, Inmet Mining Corp. They also acquired from Inmet a 70 per cent interest in the promising Hood and Gondor base metal projects, also in the Kitikmeot.

This deal not only raises hopes for yet another new mine in the Kitikmeot region — it also has the potential to boost momentum in favour of the Bathurst port-road project.

Under the deal, Inmet agreed to sell Izok Lake to Wolfden in exchange for about $49.7 million in Wolfden shares. This means Inmet will become Wolfden’s biggest shareholder, controlling 18 per cent of the company. Another major shareholder is Goldcorp Inc., which acquired 9.8 per cent of Wolfden’s shares in a $21.6 million deal this past December.

Because of this week’s deal, which will close in about 45 days, Wolfden bragged in a press release this week that it ranks amongst “the premier base metal companies world-wide.”

Wolfden announced last year that it plans to move rapidly towards development of a mine at High Lake and has begun feasibility work on it.

Wolfden’s new purchase, the much-ballyhooed Izok Lake project, was believed to be a sure thing in the early 1990s when a previous owner, Metall Mining Corp., tried to move it into production.

Metall’s plans called for a $350-million open-pit mine at Izok Lake, and a $50 million deep-sea port on Coronation Gulf connected to the mine by a road.

But the project tanked in 1992 when the federal government refused to build the road and port for them, and world zinc prices sank. Metall mothballed their Izok Lake property and eventually sold it to Inmet, which did little to develop the project.

After this crushing disappointment, a group led by the Inuit-owned Kitikmeot Corp. came up with a proposal to build an all-weather road from Contwoyto Lake to a port at Bathurst Inlet, a scheme that promised to unlock Izok Lake’s economic potential.

But that plan was dealt a blow about four years ago when Inmet pulled out of the Bathurst port-road project, leading some people to question the scheme’s viability.

It’s not clear yet what Wolfden plans to do with Izok Lake. But should they move the property towards production, the Bathurst road-port project could get a major boost

Wolfden will also spin off its gold assets, which include a promising gold development at Red Lake, into a separate company.

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