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Baptiste Nickel Project in northern B.C. is an opportunity to transition to decarbonization, says CEO

The mining project by FPX Nickel is based near Fort St. James
The Baptiste Nickel project by FPX is located north west of Fort St James. (Photo courtesy, Shas-Ti Environmental Limited Partnership)

Vancouver based mining company FPX Nickel is in the early stages of developing its Baptiste Nickel Project, located near Fort St. James in the Stuart-Nechako region of British Columbia. The mine is projected to operate for 29 years, with an annual nickel production averaging 59,100 tonnes.

In an interview with Black Press Media, Martin Turenne, CEO of FPX Nickel, spoke about the project’s significance, its potential impact on local communities, and its role in shaping the future of sustainable nickel production in Canada.

The Baptiste Nickel Project represents an opportunity to advance the transition to decarbonization while ensuring collaboration with local communities, Turenne said.

Positioned northwest of Prince George, the project is at an early engineering and design stage and is focusing on collaboration with local Carrier Sekani First Nations.

Turenne said this year, the company is in process of doing two things – widening the scope of engagement as well as deepening existing ones. He said this was to ensure they are operating with local communities that are impacted by the footprint of project referring to examples like the impact of the power line, or the access road.

Given the recent challenges faced by industries like the closure of several sawmills in northern B.C., Turenne said they are hoping to leverage and maximize the economic benefits of the Baptiste project for the local community

With capital expenditures exceeding $1.5 billion, the project is expected to create approximately 1500 full-time jobs during the construction phase and 500 jobs during operation, he said.

“This is something that can provide not just jobs, but rather careers to First Nations people and to other workers in that region. And beyond that, it can form the basis of true economic development, where First Nations owned or other local community owned businesses can be developed over a long term, knowing that there is going to be a tremendous amount of services and supplies needed to support the mine operations over decades.”

Apart from social responsibility, the mining project is also focusing on environmental stewardship, Turenne said.

“We have undertaken First Nations led environmental and cultural baseline studies to understand the land base and that work is being performed by First Nations owned businesses.”

In collaboration with First Nations, the company is studying the potential to protect caribou habitat, preservation of fisheries and critical fisheries habitat in the area, Turenne said.

“We believe this project represents a unique opportunity where we can actually leverage the investment in the project to enhance critical habitat for caribou for salmon.”

According to Turenne, the Baptiste Nickel Project not only addresses the growing demand for nickel but also sets a new standard for responsible resource extraction.

Nickel is essential for both stainless steel production and electric vehicle batteries, making it vital for global decarbonization efforts and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, he said.

Currently, a significant portion of the world’s nickel supply is controlled by China and Russia. Closer home, in B.C., the FPX project offers a responsible alternative by prioritising sustainable practices, community engagement, and biodiversity stewardship in nickel production, Turenne said. Moreover, by leveraging BC hydro’s power grid, the project aims to produce nickel with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, aligning with the province’s climate objectives, he added.

The project has garnered investment from international entities like Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. and European company Outokumpu, validating its technical merits and potential impact. On home turf, the project has also received funding from the federal government through their critical minerals funding strategy.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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