The Red Chris mine near Iskut is moving to full operation on one of the world's largest copper and gold deposits.

The Red Chris mine near Iskut is moving to full operation on one of the world's largest copper and gold deposits.

Mining activity picking up in B.C.

Red Chris begins full operation, others preparing to start despite low metal prices

The Red Chris copper and gold mine in northwestern B.C. is ramping up production after overcoming protests, declining metal prices and three reviews of its tailings facility.

Imperial Metals received its Mines Act permit for Red Chris June 19, after additional scrutiny of the open-pit mine’s construction in the wake of the August 2014 tailings dam breach at the company’s Mount Polley mine near Williams Lake.

That breach triggered independent reviews of nearly 100 mine tailings ponds with permits across the province, looking for design or operational weaknesses that indicate risk.

The Tahltan Nation commissioned its own assessment of Red Chris, located 18 km southeast of the Tahltan village of Iskut, before community members voted 87 per cent in favour of a benefits sharing agreement for the mine.

Powered by BC Hydro’s new northwest transmission line, the project will truck ore concentrate to the bulk shipping terminal at Stewart near the Alaska border.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said mines like Red Chris can operate profitably even in the current low-price market for copper, if their processes are efficient. Imperial Metals conducted drill tests showing higher-grade copper and gold deposits deep below the surface ore body.

Imperial has applied for a permit to reopen Mount Polley, using an empty pit to hold tailings as work continues to repair the dam and remediate the washed-out creek below. Bennett said inspectors are expected to make a decision on that permit in July.

Another mine expected to begin operation this summer is Brucejack, an underground gold mine 275 km northwest of Smithers. Underground mines produce less waste rock than open-pit operations, and Brucejack’s owner Pretivm plan to return some of the rock underground as cemented paste.

Another underground mine preparing for operation is Silvertip, an ore deposit near the Yukon border that was first identified in 1957. The province and the Kaska Dena First Nations signed an engagement agreement in 2012, determining a structure for resource permits for Silvertip and other projects covering millions of hectares on northern B.C.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

A photo of the CervixCheck at-home test kit, developed by Eve Medical. (Submitted Photo/Katina Pollard, Métis Nation British Columbia)
Pilot project puts cancer screening into the hands of northwest B.C. women

Métis women experience barriers to cervical cancer screening

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

Most Read