IT was no wonder a core sample resting on the table of a mining company caught the eye of many touring the trade show area of the Minerals North 2013 conference here in late April.
Rich veins of gold running like streams through a valley bottom show the promise of a mineral development located near Stewart.
There, in what Pretium Resources calls the Valley of the Kings, is enough high grade ore to justify at least a 16-year underground mine life employing approximately 300 people.
The ore body is rich enough that even the recent sharp fall in the price of gold won’t affect overall economics, says Joseph Ovsenek, a company vice president.
“Not at all,” he said, adding the company is confident of the future based on extensive drilling and sampling so far. “Our numbers are very credible.”
Workers at the site have been preparing a 10,000 tonne bulk sample for shipment with plans to truck it out starting next month.
It’s going hand in hand with a feasibility study also expected in June leading to a planned project submission for environmental approval by the end of the year.
Pretium (a Latin word meaning value or worth) was formed specifically to develop the Valley of the Kings, formally known as the Brucejack project, by buying the project from a company that held the property previously. It went public in the fall of 2010.
“We were formed specifically to advance this project. That’s our only focus and our goal,” said Ovsenek. “We have the best undeveloped high grade underground gold project in the world.”
The name Valley of the Kings was a name attached to the project by Pretium leaving some people, said Ovsenek, wondering at first if there was some connection to the Egyptian pharaohs.
Aside from the property’s gold potential, the Valley of the Kings has other benefits as well stemming from its location.
The property is 75 kilometres from Hwy37 North via a gated road which branches off of Hwy37 North just north of Meziadin Junction.
That places it relatively close to goods and services.
And it’s one of the growing number of mineral properties that could connect to B.C. Hydro’s 287kV Northwest Transmission Line now under construction, providing reliable and stable power.
A second power option would see it tie into the 138kV line running into Stewart from the Skeena Substation near Terrace.
Diesel generators onsite would provide back up power if needed.
Ovsenek said the company has also worked hard to establish commercial connections with First Nations companies in the area.
Road construction has taken place through the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation and a company owned by the Skii km Lax Ha has constructed buildings, including a warehouse in Stewart.
“We have every expectation of continuing our relationships so that they work for both parties,” said Ovsenek.
The above ground and underground workforce would be as local as possible but some of the more skilled trades may come in from the outside.
Based on no surprises during the environmental review, Pretium wants to be in production by 2016. “A lot of the issues have already been identified,” said Ovsenek.
As is the case with many industrial projects, the Valley of the Kings has to go through a provincial as well as federal review. But the company is working on as unified approach as possible in the interest of efficiency.
Its tailings disposal plan does call for material to be placed in Brucejack Lake, although 50 per cent or more of the anticipated total tailings will be deposited back underground.
The company is studying ways to increase the volume of tailings to be returned underground, thus reducing the amount that would be placed in the lake.