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Mining company backs call for Cranberry improvements

Avanti mining held an open house at Gators March 15 to inform public more about the mining project near Kitsault. There
Avanti mining held an open house at Gators March 15 to inform public more about the mining project near Kitsault. There's Adam DeVries left, and Wade Lubbers, right, speaking with Avanti's Kitsault mine site manager Finn Conradsen.
— image credit: KAT LEE PHOTO

THE COMPANY which wants to mine molybdenum at Kitsault on Alice Arm says an improved Cranberry Connector would help it transport concentrate.

Speaking with council here March 15, Avanti Mining president Craig Nelsen said the Connector plays an important role in Avanti’s transportation plan.

Kitsault is located to the north of the Nass Valley and is connected by road to the Connector east of New Aiyansh in the Nass Valley.

Avanti’s plan is to ship concentrate out by truck to the Connector and have the trucks turn east on the Connector to join up with Hwy37 North at Cranberry Junction. From there the trucks would turn south to join up with Hwy 16 at Kitwanga for the trip to port facilities at Vancouver.

“One very important aspect of this project, to help us with our transportation, would be getting the Cranberry Connector paved,” Nelsen told city council.

Avanti’s plan, provided it receives environmental approval and finds financing, is to build a 300-person camp near Kitsault to run a molybdenum mine for at least 15 years.

Capital spending would be approximately $800 million and construction would require a peak workforce of 700 people. The mine life could be longer if more molybdenum is found.

Asked by councillor Brian Downie if Avanti was interested in being a part financier Connector improvements, Nelsen said that the company is already trying to finance building the mine.

“But the benefits to the region, I think, would be immense, and I think there’s plenty of rationale, besides this project, for having that connector paved,” he said, pointing out that the road will also be an important part of construction plans for the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL).

“I think NTL and Kitsault make a pretty compelling case for getting that road paved,” Nelsen said. “Plus, it adds safety to the region, having that connection.”

Downie said the city would back any efforts to improve the Connector which is approximately 55km in length.

“I’m very supportive, I’ll do any lobbying on behalf of the project. Certainly, an additional 30 km of paving, no matter which way you go, is going to decrease our transportation cost,” Nelsen said.

The city, the Nisga’a Lisims Government and others have been lobbying the provincial government for years to improve the Connector which is now a one-lane road first constructed as a forestry road decades ago. The province did prepare a cost estimate running tens of millions of dollars to bring the Connector up to a two-lane paved road standard.

Newly-appointed finance minister Kevin Falcon, when he was transportation minister, used the study as justification to say the province couldn’t spend money on the expenditure.

Nelsen did say Avanti had looked at shipping concentrate out of the Prince Rupert port, but had to choose Vancouver instead because no ships dock at Prince Rupert that provide a direct enough connection to processing facilities in South America and Europe.

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