After years of construction and preparation, the Mount Milligan mine 92 kilometres north of Fort St. James is up and running.
Construction on the $1.57 billion project began in 2010, following the purchase of the property by Thomspon Creek Metals from Terrane Metals, and the commissioning took place on Oct. 8, 2013 with the first shipment of concentrate being shipped from Vancouver on Nov. 21. Getting the mine up and running in such a short period of time is something those involved in the mine call a point of pride.
“What we’ve experienced at Mount Milligan … is nothing short of a very extraordinary accomplishment,” said Dennis Hoof, Mount Milligan vice-president and general manager.
“This means everything for our company … we have worked a long time to get to this point,” added Thompson Creek Metals chairman and CEO Kevin Loughrey.
The conventional truck-shovel open pit mine is expected to produce 81 million pounds of copper and 195,000 ounces of gold annually over an estimated 22-year mine life. The mine plan calls for the extraction of 110,000 tonnes per day.
The site includes a 60,000 tonne per day processing plant that will take the ore and process it into copper concentrate to be shipped overseas for final processing. The semi-autogenous grinding mill is one of only three mills of its kind in the world, is the largest in North America and is powered by a 23.5 megawatt gearless motor drive capable of handling 2,717 tonnes per hour. The first concentrate was shipped from the mine on Sept. 24, 2013.
There are approximately 350 people working at the mine, with more than 60 per cent of employees coming from the Fort St. James/Vanderhoof/Prince George area, and 1,000 additional jobs were created during the construction phase.