Friday 17th November 2017

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There’s skiing in them thar hills

by Greg Klein | October 23, 2017

Some appearances to the contrary, sliding downhill might not be the ambition of every mining company. But Barrick Gold TSX:ABX has a new ski resort under consideration around the site of a southern British Columbia past-producer. Although a local enthusiast says significant progress is imminent, PostMedia reports, a company spokesperson pegs the possible project “at a very, very early stage.”

There’s skiing in them thar hills

Recreational potential around a former underground
mine might offer Barrick an opportunity to diversify its assets.

That’s been the case since at least 2012. According to a Hope Standard account from that year, the miner had a feasibility study underway for an all-season resort around the former Giant Mascot underground mine about 10 kilometres from the town of Hope.

A 1974 B.C. Geological Survey report said Giant Mascot was mined briefly in the 1930s and 1958, then from 1959 to 1973. Production estimates vary, but a 1987 study commissioned for Mascot Gold Mines Ltd said Giant gave up 4.6 million tons containing 71 million pounds of nickel and 31.4 million pounds of copper, “with significant quantities of cobalt,” from 1959 to 1974.

“The mine closed in August of 1974 because of the loss of sales contracts for copper-nickel concentrate in Japan and because of the stringent policies towards the mining industry of the provincial NDP government,” the report stated. The study quoted a 1973 historic, non-43-101 estimate of 951,471 tons averaging 0.75% nickel and 0.3% copper. Operators had given only minimal attention to the mine’s gold, chrome, cobalt and PGM potential, the report added.

Barrick got the property through its 2001 merger with Homestake Mining, according to the Standard. By 2012 Barrick was considering a resort offering fishing, hiking and boating, along with possible ski facilities nearby, the paper noted. Consultations were underway with First Nations and other local communities.

Now PostMedia reports Dennis Adamson, an elected official of the Fraser Valley Regional District “and the project’s No. 1 booster,” says Barrick will soon file a notice of intent.

“I’ve been pushing this for years. It’s the No. 1 question I get,” he said of his 721 constituents. “Not a day goes by when I don’t get someone asking me when the ski hill will be open.”

But Andy Lloyd, spokesperson for the world’s top gold miner, cautioned that any such plan “is at a kind of conceptual stage … a very, very early stage … we wouldn’t want to create a false impression that Barrick is building a resort.”

Something of a higher priority might be Barrick’s relations with Tanzania, where the company holds a 63.9% stake in LSE-listed Acacia Mining, operator of three mines in the country. Barrick has proposed that the government get half the mines’ economic benefits, a 16% interest in the assets and US$300 million from Acacia towards unresolved tax claims.

Acacia says it doesn’t have the dough.

Meanwhile the Canada West Ski Areas Association, PostMedia reported, believes the province already has too many resorts chasing too few skiers.

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