I find it amazing that Mr. Bourquin is questioning the Northern Transmission Line Agreement with Tahltan, which helps move the project into the construction phase.
He mixes apples and oranges in his base belief that copper concentrate production is the real evil for the environment and global climate change. He pretends that a copper smelter built in northern BC will fix these challenges.
The projects in northern BC will be producing low-grade copper concentrate ore. To turn this into copper metal, the most common hydrometallurgical process would be used. The ore is leached with ammonia or sulfuric acid to extract the copper. These processes can operate at atmospheric pressure or as pressure leach circuits. Copper is recovered from solution by electro winning, a process similar to electrolytic refining. The process is most commonly used for leaching low-grade deposits in situ or as heaps. (Source: Pollution Prevention & Abatement Handbook – World Bank Group)
The principal air pollutants emitted from the processes are sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The amount of sulfur dioxide released depends on the characteristics of the ore—complex ores may contain lead, zinc, nickel, and other metals— and on whether facilities are in place for capturing and converting the sulfur dioxide. SO2 emissions may range from less than 4 kilograms per metric ton (kg/t) of copper to 2,000 kg/t of copper. Particulate emissions can range from 0.1 kg/t of copper to as high as 20 kg/t of copper. (Source: Pollution Prevention & Abatement Handbook – World Bank Group)
Based on a minimal commercial production volume of 150,000 tons of concentrate, a northern BC smelter would require 1,875 MWs of electricity per year. The current 287 kv line planned for the Terrace to Bob Quinn extension will support a maximum of 900 MWs of electricity.
Galore Creek would require 100 MWs. Kutcho Creek would take 15 MWs. Mount Klappan would need 10 MWs. Copper Fox would use 140 MWs. Hard Creek Nickel a further 105 MWs. Canadian Gold Hunter Corp would use 37 MWs. Seabridge Gold’s KSM project would need 150 MWs. And finally Bronson would need a preliminary estimate of 20 MWs of electricity. Each ton of milling capacity equals 1 MW of energy. Combined, if these projects came on stream, the line would be 577 MWs. Presumably the line’s remaining capacity would be filled by the AltaGas/Forrest Kerr run-of-river project to feed the grid. Volcano and McLymont Creeks electricity projects would also charge the line to capacity. As well the grid could or would power Iskut.
How could we even support a copper smelter in the northwest? To do so would require electricity production on a massive scale. Tahltan pushed back planned hydro dams on the Stikine River in the 70’s. His call for a copper smelter could well place our river in jeopardy again.
Mr. Bourquin states dirty copper would spur more climate change in our region based on coal-fired plants providing electricity for Asian-Pacific smelters. He neglects to report that we have seen weather patterns change based on the La Nino effect, which has created cooler weather and helped produce this year’s crop of record weather events in North America.
I do not share Mr. Bourquin’s predictions of death for Iskut community members, of which he is married to one. However, I will agree that building a railway to service the concentrate tonnages that will be produced could alleviate the issue of truck traffic.
Mr. Bourquin would rather trade potential smelter emissions, which are much more potent greenhouse gases, for carbon gases that our mostly untouched forests would absorb as a natural carbon sink. And he would reopen debate and potential need for massive hydro projects on rivers in the headwater region. I don’t think BC citizens and especially Tahltan want that double whammy of risk.
President, Tahltan Business Council
North Vancouver, B.C.