While the eyes of the energy export world turn to Prince Rupert and Kitimat, interest from the mining sector is looking north to the area around Hwy 37.
Northern B.C. has become a hotbed for mineral exploration in recent years, which has served as the catalyst for BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line. Although the size of mines, the minerals being sought and the current status of the projects varies greatly, the potential economic impact of mining in the northwest cannot be understated.
Below is a snapshot of some proposals along Hwy 37 that could bring thousands of workers to the Northwest.
A partnership between NovaGold and Teck Resources, the Galore Creek Mine is expected to be the largest and lowest-cost copper mine in the country.
Located approximately 150 kilometres northwest of Stewart, Galore Creek would be a large-scale open-pit copper-gold-silver mine which would provide ore to a process plant at a nominal rate of 95,000 tonnes per day, or 34.6 million tonnes per year, over an approximate 18-year mine life. The Galore Creek property comprises 298,840 acres and has estimated total measured and indicated reserves of 8.9 million pounds of copper, 8 million ounces of gold and 136 million ounces of silver with inferred resources of an additional 3.2 billion pounds of copper, 2.7 million ounces of gold and 47.7 million ounces of silver.
“In 2014, along with Teck, NovaGold plans to carry out additional technical studies to further enhance the value of this significant project,” said NovaGold president and CEO Greg Lang.
Avanti Mining Inc nearly has all the permits in place for its Kitsault Molybdenum Project, located 140 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert.
The company has already received its environmental assessment certificate for the mine and the federal review was completed in September, meaning all that is needed now is a decision from the Minister of Environment.
Considered one of the top five Molybdenum assets in the world, the project is the re-development and expansion of a former open-pit mine complete with a processing plant and complimentary infrastructure. The mine would produce 40,000 tonnes of ore per day over a 15-year mine life, with road and marine access for getting the product to market already in place.
The reopening of the mine is projected to create more than 300 high-paying jobs during its 14-year life, and at the peak of construction, more than 700 jobs. The construction period for the $812 million project is estimated at 25 months.
Currently under review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project is located 65 kilometres northwest of Stewart.
The mine, a total investment of more than $5 billion, has proven and probable reserves totalling 38.2 million ounces of gold, 9.9 billion pounds of copper, 191 million pounds of silver and 213 pounds of molybdenum. Over the 52-year life of the project, the mine is expected to produce 130,000 tonnes of ore per day in the first 25 years and 90,000 tonnes per day in the following years.
The economic impact of the KSM mine is one of the largest in the region. Seabridge anticipates it will need 1,100 workers during the construction phase and an additional 930 permanent operational jobs once complete.
Arctos Anthracit Project
Formerly known as the Mount Klappan Anthracite Metallurgical Coal Project, Fortune Minerals is proposing a 730-hectare mine 240 kilometres north of Hazelton.
The project, which is expected to cost more than $750 million and cover approximately 4,000 hectares, would produce 8,300 tonnes of anthracite coal per day — equal to 3 million metric tonnes per year — over its 25-year life span for export through Prince Rupert.
Fortune Minerals would employ 500 people directly through mine operations while another 1,000 jobs would be created indirectly.
Owned completely by Petrivm, the Brucejack Mine is an advanced-stage, high-grade gold exploration project covering more than 103,000 hectares 65 kilometres north of Stewart.
The underground mine is expected to produce 7.1 million ounces of gold over its 22-year lifespan with an average production of 427,000 ounces of gold in the first 10 years and 321,000 ounces of gold in the latter part.
The project, expected to begin production in 2016, costs $665.3 million and will employ approximately 500 people.