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Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band) and Pacific Road Capital Form Groundbreaking Partnership for Michel Coal Project

December 20, 2022

ʔakanuxunik Territory, Grasmere, British Columbia, Dec. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band or YQT) and Pacific Road Capital are proud to announce 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 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 per cent equity interest in North Coal (NCL) to Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it. The Project lies within ʔakanuxunik̓ ʔamakis̓ in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. 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 CSR, hard coking coal; a product that global blast furnaces are expected to need to reduce coke loadings and decarbonise on their path to net zero. It is expected that NCL’s product will be in strong demand relative to other high CSR hard coking coals, as it is desperately needed by steel mills and has a low-to-net zero carbon footprint attached to its production. NCL, through employment of local Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, has an established presence in Sparwood, B.C., 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.    Nasu kin Heidi Gravelle, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it stated: “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. 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 stated: “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 decarbonise in the most effective way.” Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer, North Coal, further stated: “Global decarbonisation is one of the issues of our time, and with 8 per cent of global emissions, decarbonising steel in the most effective way is critical to global emissions. At North Coal, we are looking to provide a product that blast furnaces will desperately need as they decarbonise 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.” ABOUT Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it The members of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it (in English, “Tobacco Plains Indian Band”) are the descendants of the distinct group of indigenous people who have occupied, controlled, and been the exclusive stewards over their unceded ancestral lands, ʔakanuxunik̓ ʔamakis̓, since time immemorial. Today, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it is a self-governing indigenous First Nation, dedicated to improving the health, safety, education, and financial security of its people while supporting them in their right to practice their cultural and traditional ways. Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it pursues self-determination through economic empowerment and believes in responsible resource development within its traditional territory.  Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it people are part of the larger family of Ktunaxa (Kootenay) speaking peoples of British Columbia, Idaho, and Montana. The Tobacco Plains Indian Reserve comprises 10,600 acres surrounding Grasmere, in Southeastern British Columbia. ABOUT PACIFIC ROAD CAPITALPacific Road Capital (PRC) 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 committed to delivering both leading returns for its investors and leading environment, sustainability, and governance (ESG) performance in its investments. PRC believes the two are inextricably linked. PRC is a Sydney-based investor that has managed two private equity funds totaling $800 million in commitments from a blue chip, primarily US investor base.  PRC invests in public and private entities, centered around the themes of deep value, catalytic change, and responsibility to stakeholders. Investors trust PRC’s expertise, excellence, and ethics. PRC believes in superior financial returns and in creating strong environmental and human ecosystems around its investments that benefit shareholders and stakeholders alike.   PRC believes that ownership comes with responsibility, and that in its position as an influential investor it should promote and encourage the highest performance across ESG measures in its investee companies to both manage risks and to capture the short and long-term value associated with strong ESG performance.   PRC is committed to leading global ESG standards aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, including a commitment to UNDRIP. Pacific Road is the 100 per cent owner and manager of North Coal. PRC made its initial investment in North Coal in 2013 and acquired 100 per cent in 2016. Investment to date in North Coal is about C$90 million. Pacific Road is committed to being an industry leader in achieving reconciliation with indigenous peoples. ABOUT NORTH COAL North Coal (NCL) holds a 100 per cent interest in the Michel Coal Project, an advanced metallurgical coal project with approximately 140 million resource tonnes of high value-in-use metallurgical coal in the Province of British Columbia. 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. North Coal is developing an all-new, modern steelmaking coal mine in southeastern British Columbia, Canada, in an established mining region with world class infrastructure. The Project will provide the quality of metallurgical coal required by the steel industry as it decarbonizes over the coming decades.  The global hard coking coal market is tight and set to structurally tighten into sustained market deficit by the end of the decade driven by steel industry decarbonization, demand growth and constrained supply. In a market of 190Mt in 2021, Wood Mackenzie forecasts a market deficit of 17Mt by 2030, rising to 70Mt by 2040 and more than 150Mt by 2050, creating a 2 to 2.5 billion tonnes cumulative supply gap from 2027 to 2050 that needs to be filled by new projects that are becoming more challenging to find and build. The Project is being progressed by a strong leadership team with a track record of delivery and value creation to world class standards. Project development has focused on planning with ESG performance and Indigenous knowledge and participation at the core. North Coal is expected to be in the lowest quartile of Scope 1 and 2 CO2e emissions for seaborne traded metallurgical coal and has a partnership with the University of British Colombia Bradshaw Research Institute to create a clear path to net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions production. 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. North Coal is committed to world best water quality performance, especially with respect to selenium control. 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). North Coal is committed to open and honest communication with First Nation governments, Provincial and Federal governments, non-indigenous communities, and other interested parties throughout all phases of the Project and will continue to integrate feedback into its design. An independent review of the project by a panel of 6 experts in 2022 noted that the work conducted by North Coal in its Environment Assessment is of high standard, and in some critical areas such as water, best in class. Cautionary Statements regarding Forward-Looking InformationCertain information in this news release constitutes forward-looking statements under applicable securities law. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as “may”, “should”, “anticipate”, “expect”, “intend” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements relating to outcome of discussions between Pacific Road Capital and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it as well as any other future plans, objectives or expectations of Pacific Road Capital and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it. Forward-looking statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks, including, without limitation, Pacific Road Capital and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it’s ability to finalize definitive agreements, implement business strategies; risks associated with mineral exploration and production; risks associated with general economic conditions; adverse industry events; stakeholder engagement; marketing and transportation costs; loss of markets; volatility of commodity prices; inability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources, and/or inability to access sufficient capital on favourable terms; industry and government regulation; changes in legislation, income tax and regulatory matters; competition; currency and interest rate fluctuations; and other risks. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list is not exhaustive. Readers are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions, or expectations upon which they are placed will occur. Such information, although considered reasonable by management at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect and actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. Forward-looking statements contained in this news release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent the expectations of Pacific Road Capital and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it as of the date of this news release, and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Pacific Road Capital and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether because of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable securities law. Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/2e4a348d-8368-4efe-92fe-a465296de5c6https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/ec59a02d-be16-4bba-ae50-2354c7f6759d

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