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LAST WEEK’S announcement that NovaGold is actively looking for someone to buy its half of the Galore Creek copper property north of here puts on hold for now any plans to put the property through a provincial environmental review.
NovaGold and its Galore property partner, Teck Resources, released a feasibility study for the property last July, indicating that a viable operation could be developed and that design work would be done by the end of 2011.
At that time, a decision would be made to go through a provincial environmental review.
But last fall, NovaGold said it was dividing its gold and copper assets into two companies and that it wanted to sell its Galore stake in hopes of concentrating on a gold development in Alaska.
Last week, NovaGold moved ahead with the sales plan by hiring two banks to look for buyers.
The company has, however, approved $17.7 million as its half share of a drilling and work program planned for this year with its Teck partner.
“The portion of this budget funded by NovaGold is contingent on the timing and success of its divestment process,” indicated NovaGold in a release.
Despite plans to sell its Galore stake, NovaGold president Greg Lang said the property, if developed, “would be the largest copper mine in ... Canada, as well as one of the lowest cost from an operating cost perspective.”
Galore Creek, in the last decade, became a focal point for northwest economic development following the collapse of the wood processing industry.
NovaGold, after purchasing the property, began an intensive exploration and development program leading to environmental approval and a construction start in 2007.
The Northwest Transmission Line was announced the same year and Galore was to be its first customer.
NovaGold also won recognition for involving the Tahltan, on whose traditional territory the Galore Creek property is located, in employment and business opportunities.
But costs ballooned out of control in late 2007 and the project was put on hold until it could be redesigned.
That decision sent a ripple through the regional economy and also resulted in the cancellation of the Northwest Transmission Line.
The line was revived several years later and environmental approval for its construction was granted last year.