Route 167 Extension
The Renard Diamond Project benefits from the Route 167 extension, an all-season road connecting it to the provincial highway network via the communities of Mistissini and Chibougamau (see map). Renard will be Canada’s first diamond mine with all-season road access. The road was developed between 2011 and 2014 under the auspices of Québec’s Plan Nord.
Construction on the 240 km Route 167 extension began in February 2012 and was undertaken in four segments, “A” to “D”. Under financing agreements between Stornoway and the Government of Québec dated August 1, 2011 and November 15, 2012, the Québec Ministry of Transport committed to construct the 143 km covered by segments A and B as a 70 km/hr two-lane gravel highway, and Stornoway agreed to complete the 97 km covered by segments C and D as a single-lane mining grade road, termed the Renard Mine Road. Québec agreed to provide Stornoway with an unsecured credit facility of up to C$77 million to complete its work, at an annual interest rate of 3.35%, amortized over 15 years, with a repayment schedule based upon planned commencement of commercial production at Renard.
On September 3, 2013, Stornoway announced the connection of all four road segments two months ahead of schedule, and the opening of the Route 167 extension/Renard Mine Road to all-season construction traffic along the full length of the road from Temiscamie to the Renard Project site for the first time. Final gravel surfacing was completed in September 2014.
Throughout the road construction process, Stornoway has prioritized the granting of contracts to businesses located in the James Bay Region of Québec, in particular those associated with the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. Contractor productivity throughout the construction process has been excellent, and is the greatest factor in Stornoway's ability to advance the road so efficiently. Stornoway's contractors have included;
- The Eskan Company, the Development Corporation of the Cree Nation of Mistissini, and Swallow-Fournier Inc. for road construction;
- Nordic Structures Bois, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chantiers Chibougamau Ltée, for bridge construction;
- Jos Ste-Croix & Fils Ltée of Chibougamau for construction management;
- The Eenatuk Forestry Company for tree clearing;
- The Kiskinchiish Corporation for camp services and catering; and
- Petronor, a wholly owned Cree enterprise, for fuel supply.
The cost of the Renard Mine Road was budgeted at $77 million, including a 15% contingency. Stornoway completed its portion of the road at approximately $70 million, approximately 10% under the initial budget. On October 10, 2013, Stornoway announced an agreement with Québec that allows the balance of funds within the base credit facility of $77 million to be drawn for the construction of the Renard Mine Airport. This allowed civil works at the airport to be completed by November 2013, well in advance of the start of principal mine construction at the Renard Project.
Year-round road access to the project will lower costs, reduce operating risk and allow for the development of lower grade ore for eventual mine life extension. It will also make Renard the only Canadian diamond mine accessible by road vehicles year-round. In addition, having year-round road access has allowed the Company to use liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) as a power source instead of diesel powered gensets, which will result in both lower operating costs and reduced environmental emissions.