North Coal Partners with Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band or YQT) and Pacific Road Capital announced that they have agreed to terms defined in a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) to form a partnership to progress and develop the Michel Coal Project.

The LOI outlines the governance and significant economic terms aligned with core partnership principles around co-ownership, management, and governance, and upon execution of definitive agreements, will involve the provision of a 50% equity interest in North Coal (NCL) to Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it.

The project lies within ʔakanuxunik̓ ʔamakis̓ in the Elk Valley. These are the ancestral and unceded lands of YQT, over which YQT asserts, declares, and exercises section 35 Aboriginal Rights and title as set out in the Constitution Act (1982) of Canada.

YQT, through its traditional custodianship of ʔakanuxunik̓ ʔamakis̓, has substantial knowledge of and connection to the land, traditional cultural heritage, and land management practices that encompass the project area and the broader area of Tobacco Plains.

By involving YQT, the project will have the stewardship needed to ensure things are done right by the land – traditionally and culturally – with positive impacts for future generations. Further, YQT has extensive generational connections with and knowledge of other First Nations in the region of Tobacco Plains that may be of significant benefit and importance to NCL.

The project will produce a premium mid-volatile, high Coke Strength after Reaction (CSR), hard coking coal; a product that global blast furnaces are expected to need to reduce coke loadings and decarbonize on their path to net zero. It is expected that NCL’s product will be in strong demand similar to other coal mined in the Elk Valley..

NCL, through employment of local Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, has an established presence in Sparwood, building respectful relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regulators grounded in transparency, integrity, and trust. This is evident through years of active dialogue and consultation with the Ktunaxa Nation Council Society, and the Ktunaxa First Nations which include ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, ʔaq̓am (St. Mary’s), and Yaqan Nuʔkiy (Lower Kootenay Band), in addition to YQT.

Pacific Road Capital and YQT expect to formalize the terms of the LOI through definitive agreements by June 30, 2023, and have agreed to advance the Project through the Environmental Assessment Process and to continue design and feasibility work.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it on our path to self-determination. This partnership has been built on mutual respect, collaboration and integrity while working with our community members, elders and leadership to create a sustainable future built on our strong traditions and culture,” stated Nasu kin Heidi Gravelle, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it. “By working together, Pacific Road Capital and North Coal have set a precedent for other companies looking to partner in economic ventures on unceded territory. We look forward to working together to create new opportunities for Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it on this important project.”

Matt Fifield, Managing Partner, Pacific Road Capital added: “The partnership with Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it is a natural extension of the working relationship we have built together over many years and is wholly aligned with Pacific Road and North Coal’s leading approaches to ESG, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. There is no doubt that this partnership will continue to set new standards of performance in delivering a critical material for the world as we strive to decarbonize in the most effective way.”

“Global decarbonisation is one of the issues of our time, and with eight per cent of global emissions, decarbonizing steel in the most effective way is critical to global emissions,” said Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer, North Coal.

“At North Coal, we are looking to provide a product that blast furnaces will desperately need as they decarbonize over coming decades, and to do so with new standards of operating, environmental and social performance, in order to create a truly modern mining company. This partnership is a core element of that future, and we look forward to working with our friends at Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it to deliver on our shared vision.”

Pacific Road Capital is a specialist investor in the natural resource sector with deep expertise in metals and mining, and especially in early-stage and mid-tier metals and mining businesses.

PRC is a Sydney-based investor that has managed two private equity funds totalling $800 million in commitments from a blue chip, primarily US investor base. PRC invests in public and private entities, centred around the themes of deep value, catalytic change, and responsibility to stakeholders.

Pacific Road is the 100% owner and manager of North Coal. PRC made its initial investment in North Coal in 2013 and acquired 100% in 2016. Investment to date in North Coal is about C$90 million.

North Coal holds a 100% interest in the Michel Coal Project, a metallurgical coal project with approximately 140 million resource tonnes of high value-in-use metallurgical coal. North Coal expects to produce about 1.8 million tonnes per year of premium, high CSR, hard coking coal over a 23-year mine life.

Through over a decade of continued investment in the project’s development, NCL has completed a pre-feasibility study and has developed substantial project information including baseline geological and environmental data, water quality and quantity, environmental mine design engineering that has been the baseline for a pre-submission for an Environmental Assessment as managed by the Environmental Assessment Office (“EAO”) of British Columbia.

The proposed mine has been designed to achieve water quality consistent with the targets set out in the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (Area Based Management Plan).

Photo: Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it