Moly miners pleased

Avanti purchased the property in 2008 for $20 million and has spent millions to prepare its ore mining plan

A PROVINCIAL environmental review of a proposed $800 million molybdenum mine along the north coast should start next month.

Provincial environmental officials last week said Avanti Mining’s application for a mine at Kitsault at Alice Arm met the standard required for a review.

Company president Craig Nelsen is confident comments received as a result of the application being examined will help the official 180-day review go as smoothly as possible.

“We’ve spent $10 million-plus on baseline data and the environmental impact assessment and we now have a very robust document by the usual standards,” he said.

“We’re very proud of this document,” Nelsen added.

Acceptance of the application came Feb. 22, starting a 30-day clock for the company to prepare the final application review.

During the 180-day environmental review, Avanti will also be refining its engineering for the project.

“We’re at a very advanced stage of engineering. We understand the project very well because of past production,” Nelsen.

That’s a reference to two previous molybdenum mines at Kitsault, the last closing in 1982 when prices collapsed.

Avanti purchased the property in 2008 for $20 million and has spent millions since on drilling to define the ore body and prepare its processing plan.

“We have 30,000 metres of drilling at $400-$500 a metre,” said Nelsen.

In all, he estimates the project has cost $75 million so far, a figure Nelsen admits is more than first anticipated.

But the ore body is sufficient for a mine life of at least 15 years and justifies the projected $800 million overall cost, he continued.

Ore will be taken by truck to Vancouver and the put on ships either to a processing plant near Ghent, Belgium or to a processing plant in Chile.

“We have to go to Vancouver because none of the other ports have vessels that service those two ports,” said Nelsen when asked if Prince Rupert or other closer ports could have been used instead.

The company has yet to secure all of the financing, either by debt or taking on a partner, but it has been using innovative ways to purchase equipment.

“We’re going to be using German mining equipment and conveying equipment and from that we can use the Germans’ export development bank,” said Nelsen.