Miners optimistic about approval schedule

THE COMPANY which wants to re-open a molybdenum property at Kitsault at the end of Alice Arm north of the Nass Valley, believes it can officially enter the provincial government’s approval process in late summer.

THE COMPANY which wants to re-open a molybdenum property at Kitsault at the end of Alice Arm north of the Nass Valley, believes it can officially enter the provincial government’s approval process in late summer.

Avanti Mining bought the property in 2008 has spent the past three years defining its mining plan and gathering the information needed to receive environmental approval.

The price for molybdenum, which is used to strengthen steel alloys and has other industrial applications, has been rising.

Avanti CEO Craig Nelsen said it has about 95 per cent of what’s needed to officially submit the project and have the provincial 180-day assessment clock officially start ticking.

What’s lacking is socio-economic information taking in the Nisga’a who live closest to the mineral property. And, in the interests of efficiency and cost, Avanti hopes to combine forces with another mining company, Seabridge Gold, which is advancing the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell copper and gold property northwest of Stewart.

“We’ve made a submission and we’d like to get everything together by June,” said Nelsen of how the information would be gathered and presented.

He’s had meetings with Seabridge, the Nisga’a Lisims Government and federal and provincial environmental officials concerning the proposal.

“I would hope it would come together rather quickly,” said Nelsen of the plan.

Based on receiving an environmental certificate  and required permits, Avanti has forecast a construction start of 2012 to develop an open-pit operation accompanied by processing facilities and accommodation.

The company predicts needing a construction workforce of 650 people followed by a mine workforce of 350 over mine lifespan of at least 16 years.

The capital budget is estimated at $800 million and the company’s plan is to sell up to 30 per cent of the project to help finance construction.

There is a townsite at Kitsault and it was built to house workers when the property was last mined in the early 1980s. The operating life was cut short by declining metal prices and the town abandoned, and the townsite was bought by an American entrepreneur in the middle part of the last decade.

Avanti’s workers would stay in a separate camp altogether and gain access to the mine site via a route that does not take them through the town.

Avanti’s concentrate would be brought out by road and shipped by highway to Vancouver and placed on ships for export to processing facilities overseas.