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NovaCopper Signs Memorandum of Understanding with the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority to Permit and Develop an Industrial Access Road to the Ambler Mining District

April 30, 2013 - Vancouver, British Columbia - NovaCopper Inc. (TSX, NYSE-MKT: NCQ) ("NovaCopper" or "the Company") is pleased to announce that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority1 ("AIDEA") to investigate the viability of permitting and constructing an industrial access road to the Ambler mining district and the Company's Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects ("UKMP") which include the Arctic and Bornite deposits.

The MOU formalizes the roles of each party as they relate to permitting the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road ("AMDIAR"), which is expected to commence later in 2013, and developing one or more mines at the UKMP. The MOU also allows AIDEA to investigate various ways to fund the construction and maintenance of the AMDIAR. Although no specific terms have yet been discussed on payment for usage of the AMDIAR, the arrangement that AIDEA entered into with Cominco Ltd. (now Teck Resources Ltd.) in 19862 for construction of the Red Dog Road and Port Facility may serve as a general template for a final financing agreement. This MOU is non-exclusive, meaning that other mining and exploration companies or other industrial users may also work in cooperation with AIDEA to support development of the AMDIAR by signing their own MOUs.

Since 2009 considerable work has been carried out by the Alaska Department of Transportation, including the evaluation of numerous possible access routes and the collection of environmental baseline data. The State of Alaska has expended approximately US$10 million on these studies. A further US$8.5 million is included in the 2013 fiscal budget to support permitting activities for AMDIAR which was recently approved as a specific appropriation included in the State's capital budget.

"We are extremely pleased to sign this MOU with AIDEA as this marks the first step towards the construction of an industrial road to the UKMP. It also demonstrates the State of Alaska's commitment to responsibly develop its abundant natural resources," said Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse, President and Chief Executive Officer of NovaCopper. "The next step is the commencement of the permitting process for the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road which we expect will be initiated before year end."

"The completion of the MOU with NovaCopper is beneficial, not just for NovaCopper, but for all Alaskans because the development of the Ambler mining district is expected to produce significant economic benefits for the State and, most importantly, for the communities of northwest Alaska," said Ted Leonard, Executive Director of AIDEA. "We look forward to working with the NovaCopper team as we move into the permitting stage of the road."

The purpose of the MOU is to identify the rights, roles, and responsibilities of AIDEA and the Company as they relate to the potential establishment of an industrial access road to the Ambler mining district. The parties will continue to work together and in conjunction with other State of Alaska agencies, including the Alaska Department of Transportation, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and potentially others, to work on the proposed industrial road access corridors that would serve the purpose of providing access for development of the mineral resources within the Ambler mining district which includes the Company's Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects.

In summary, the MOU is intended to:

  • Facilitate strategies to maximize the local economic benefit and job opportunities as a result of responsible development of the Ambler mining district;
  • Provide access to AIDEA with regard to environmental and baseline work for the UKMP conducted by the Company for the purpose of assessing the suitability of potential routes for an industrial access road within the Ambler mining district;
  • Establish the groundwork to develop a plan for an industrial road to provide access;
  • Provide a framework for AIDEA and the Company to cooperatively engage with local communities and other project stakeholders to incorporate their input via public meetings and consultations;
  • Identify areas requiring federal, state and local permitting, and facilitate support for obtaining such permits; and
  • Working collaboratively to establish an agreement for the Company's usage of the potential industrial access road.

The MOU will expire on the third anniversary of the effective date, unless otherwise extended by written agreement between the parties. Either party may terminate the MOU earlier for any reason at any time upon delivery to the other party of written notice of termination.

About NovaCopper

NovaCopper Inc. is a base metals exploration company focused on exploring and developing the Ambler mining district in Alaska. It is one of the richest and most-prospective known copper-dominant districts located in one of the safest geopolitical jurisdictions in the world. It hosts world-class VMS deposits that contain copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver, and carbonate replacement deposits which have been found to host high-grade copper mineralization. Exploration efforts have been focused on two deposits in the Ambler district -- the Arctic VMS deposit and the Bornite carbonate replacement deposit. Both deposits are located within NovaCopper's land package that spans approximately 143,000 hectares. NovaCopper has formed a partnership with NANA Regional Corporation, Inc. (NANA), an Alaskan Native Corporation that provides a framework for the exploration and potential development of the Ambler mining district in cooperation with the local communities. Our vision is to develop the Ambler mining district into a premier North American copper producer.

More information on the Company, its properties and its management team is available on the Company's website at www.novacopper.com.

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