Wile many mines are proposed for Hwy 37, none are closer to completion than the Red Chris copper and gold mine.
Located 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake and only 20 kilometres off the highway, the $500 million mine is scheduled to begin operation this June and is expected to employ 300 full-time people.
The open pit mine is designed to have a mill production rate of 30,000 tonnes of ore per day for sale to the export market over its 28-year span, but there would also be 550 tonnes of concentrate produced at the site that would be transported to Stewart for export.
The commissioning of Red Chris has been a lengthy undertaking for Imperial Metals who purchased the site in 2007. Although the environmental assessment permits from the province and the federal government were issued in 2005 and 2006, construction on the site didn’t begin until 2012. At its peak, there were 500 jobs created during the two-year construction window.
Red Chris is also one of the first mines to take advantage of the Northwest Transmission Line, but will be building its own 93 kilometre, 287-kilovolt line from the Bob Quinn Substation to Tatogga Lake where a smaller line will then run east to connect to the mine site.
As vital as the new project is to the Red Chris mine, it is also part of the overall strategy of providing power to the north using the Northwest Transmission Line as a foundation. At 287kV, the new project, called the Iskut extension, is larger than what’s needed by the Red Chris mine. Under a deal signed with BC Hydro this spring, the line will be sold to the crown corporation for a flat fee of $52 million with the Imperial subsidiary on the hook for any amount above that.
It means BC Hydro will be ready to supply power through the extension to other customers, primarily mining companies, should their projects prove viable.
Red Chris is proceeding with the co-operation of the Tahltan Nation, which signed a shared decision-making deal with the B.C. government in March 2013.