Saturday 24th June 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Imperial Metals Corp (III)’

PwC numbers support B.C. mining’s resurgent mood

May 17th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 17, 2017

Not just shareholders but governments, employees and communities all benefit from the upturn in mining, according to British Columbia data. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual report on B.C. mining credits the industry’s “cautiously optimistic” mood on stabilized or improving commodity prices, continuing progress on development projects and new mines to come. The survey gleaned its findings from 28 companies whose main assets comprise 14 operating mines, one on care and maintenance, three exploration projects, nine projects undergoing permitting or environmental assessment and a smelter.

Year-over-year numbers help explain the optimism.

The participating companies drew gross mining revenue of $8.7 billion last year, compared with $7.7 billion in 2015, “driven by higher revenue at Teck’s [TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B] B.C. coal mines as well as Imperial Metals’ [TSX:III] Red Chris and Mount Polley operations.”

Net mining revenue for the participants totalled $7.3 billion, compared with $6.3 billion in 2015, “driven by an increase in gross mining revenue and a decrease in smelting and refining charges and freight costs.” Cash flow from operations rose to $2.6 billion in 2016 from $1.7 billion the previous year.

Participants’ exploration and development spending, however, fell from $320 million in 2015 to $102 million last year. But PwC attributed the decrease largely to Pretium Resources’ (TSX:PVG) Brucejack graduating from exploration and evaluation into construction, helping push 2016 capex for the 28 companies up to $1.37 billion, compared with $1.24 billion in 2015.

And those companies’ shareholders reaped rising returns—13.5% last year, compared with 6.3% in 2015 and 2.4% in 2014. With the 2016 figure slightly above 2013 results, “the hope is that it will continue to climb towards 2012 levels as we move into 2017.”

Governments did alright too, getting total payments of $650 million from the participants last year, up from $476 million in 2015. Last year saw the participants’ highest such payments since 2011.

Direct employment rose slightly to 9,329 jobs, compared with 9,221 in 2015.

Of all those numbers, of course, job figures have the most obvious impact on people and their communities. Even PwC’s beancounters appear moved by the intangible effects of the Tumbler Ridge coal mining revival. The inspirational story began last autumn when Conuma Coal Resources rescued some B.C. assets of bankrupt Walter Energy and reopened the Brule mine.

An “extreme and effective collaboration” of industry, government and First Nations helped Conuma put Brule back in operation quickly, Karina Briño told PwC. Briño, who stepped down as B.C. Mining Association president/CEO on April 30 to take on a mining role in her native Chile, added, “Mining really is a community-based activity that is not only valued but appreciated by the community.”

Conuma CEO Mark Bartkoski echoed those comments. “We felt really good about the properties and the spirit of the people in the community. It has truly been a testament to positive collaboration.”

Looking at the B.C. industry overall, PwC concluded, “While it may be too soon to call it a recovery, the outlook is brighter today than it has been in recent years…. While several challenges remain—including the volatility of commodity prices, keeping costs down, and attracting more investment in the short and long term—the future looks promising.”

Download Building for the Future: The Mining Industry in British Columbia 2016.

B.C. election: Inconclusive result puts focus on Green Party

May 10th, 2017

by Greg Klein | May 10, 2017

What looks like British Columbia’s first minority government since 1952 will evoke plenty of speculation, not the least from miners. As cliff-hanger metaphors competed with seesaw comparisons throughout the night of May 9, the B.C. election came to an inconclusive result by ResourceClips.com press time. While the B.C. Elections website took most of the day and night off, CBC pegged the post-midnight results at 43 Liberals elected, 41 New Democrats elected and three Greens in the upper echelons (two elected and one leading, compared with just one seat last time).

B.C. election: Inconclusive result puts focus on Green Party

During the campaign all three parties professed support for mining, especially the continuation of flow-through tax credits. But the much more vexatious issue of permitting drew largely euphemistic responses.

Quoted by the Association for Mineral Exploration, NDP leader John Horgan pledged his party would address the uncertainty of permitting by working with Geoscience B.C., the B.C. Geological Survey and First Nations “to develop comprehensive mineral land use plans.”

In the same publication Green leader Andrew Weaver professed his commitment to fix B.C.’s “structurally broken” environmental review process, in which the “professional reliance model” has lost the confidence of First Nations and the general public.

Former mines minister Bill Bennett, who retired as the writ was dropped, reminded AME about his government’s inducements to native support, including royalty sharing and training programs.

But the mining-related issue that unexpectedly gained most prominence was thermal coal and its trans-shipment from the U.S. to Asia via B.C. The stuff “fouls the air. It fouls the oceans. It’s terrible for the environment,” Canadian Press quoted BC Liberal leader Christy Clark.

She spoke in response to the U.S. president’s 20% tariff on softwood lumber imports, most of which come from B.C.

Her proposed $70-a-tonne penalty would not only cripple thermal coal exports from the U.S., but also from Alberta, to the detriment of that province’s mines and this province’s ports. Clark’s comments didn’t acknowledge B.C.’s reliance—notwithstanding its hydro resources—on Alberta’s coal-generated electricity. That’s not to mention B.C.’s dependency on nuclear-generated power from Washington state. B.C . has banned uranium exploration.

Additionally Clark’s proposal would hammer the final nail in the coffin of Quinsam, B.C.’s last thermal coal mine. Hillsborough Resources suspended the Vancouver Island underground operation in January 2016 due to low prices.

A coal mining topic unacknowledged in the campaign was the election’s coincidence with the 25th anniversary of Nova Scotia’s Westray disaster, which killed 26 miners. Down Easterners marked that anniversary as a former director of mine-owner Curragh Inc, 83-year-old BC Liberal Ralph Sultan, swept to his fifth straight victory in the affluent riding of West Vancouver-Capilano.

Meanwhile preliminary results offer the Greens potential power that’s unprecedented for their party in Canada. All three projected Green seats are on southern Vancouver Island, also home to Canada’s sole Green MP, Elizabeth May. Apart from B.C., only New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have Green MLAs, one each in those two provinces.

However B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver stands apart from the other parties’ undistinguished professional politicians. A University of Victoria professor, he shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

His influence, with maybe two other Greens, could be formidable. That might be especially true since this election will mark the first new government after the 2014 Mount Polley tailings dam disaster that challenged public support for mining.

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

April 20th, 2017

With a provincial election weeks away, Peter Caulfield asked sources in three British Columbia regions to comment on the importance of mining for the Association for Mineral Exploration’s quarterly magazine, Mineral Exploration. In general terms, the responses differ from views commonly heard in cities geographically removed but hardly independent of resource economies and the commodities they produce. In that respect, the relevance of Caulfield’s article applies far beyond B.C. The article is posted here with the permission of AME.

 

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

by Peter Caulfield

In a province that is as large and diverse as British Columbia, it’s natural that opinions on most topics—including mineral exploration and development—will be diverse too.

What the average person in Oak Bay or Yaletown thinks about a new mine or pipeline will be very different from what’s going through the head of somebody who lives in the northwestern corner of British Columbia or in the Kootenays in southeastern B.C.

As the province’s May 9 election approaches, Mineral Exploration wanted to know what’s on the mind of voters who live in the parts of the province that are most dependent on resource development. We talked to three well-connected observers of local politics in four provincial constituencies: Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson, Stikine and Kootenay East. We asked each of them what the hot-button issues are in their respective constituencies and whether mineral exploration and mine development is important to their fellow voters.

The following interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

 

Stikine

Maria Ryder, District of Stewart councillor for 2.5 years, chief of the volunteer fire department and 25-year Stewart resident

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Carl Ryan/AME)

The main projects in the Stewart region are Brucejack (Pretium Resources TSX:PVG), the Premier mine (Ascot Resources TSXV:AOT), Red Mountain (IDM Mining TSXV:IDM) and the Red Chris mine (Imperial Metals TSX:III).

Along with Terrace and Kitimat, Stewart is one of the largest communities in the district. We are growing in population, especially in the summer, when workers and their families descend on the town, drawn by mineral exploration and hydro projects and by Stewart’s two ports.

It’s very different here from urban British Columbia, and the people from down south who come up here to work find out just how different it is. And some of them discover how different some of our opinions and concerns are from theirs.

Because we get a lot of snow in the winter, much of the employment in Stewart is seasonal and the people who live here adjust their lives accordingly. Every year between March and November we’re busy, and between November and March things are pretty slow. But we’re used to it and we adjust.

The main election issue here is sustainable job creation through industrial development. We want jobs that stay and that provide stability to Stewart.

 

Kootenay East

Lois Halko, District of Sparwood second-term councillor and former mayor, born and raised in Sparwood

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Malcom Lennox/AME)

The main economic drivers of the region are the mining of metallurgical coal, which is B.C.’s single biggest export, and the activities of the local suppliers to the coal industry.

There are five Teck [Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B] metallurgical coal mines in the region: Coal Mountain, Elkview, Fording River, Greenhills and Line Creek. In addition, there are four mining companies that are interested in developing mines in the Elk Valley area: CanAus Coal, Centermount Coal, NWP Coal Canada and Riversdale Resources.

The five Teck mines have a total of 3,600 full-time employees, of whom 2,400 live in four communities in the Elk Valley area.

Because it is used to make steel, and because steel is such an essential product in everyone’s life, metallurgical coal should be recognized as a critical resource. It’s certainly critical to the people who live in Sparwood.

Teck has earned its social licence to continue mining here. The public has accepted the company’s efforts to mitigate any of the effects of coal mining, such as contaminants leaching into the water supply. Teck has done a lot of work to reduce the problem.

At the same time, we know that we need to diversify our economy. It’s something the local municipalities talk about a lot. The Sparwood regional economy is one of the least diversified in the province, which has made us very vulnerable to a cycle of boom and bust. The region has lots more to offer than just coal deposits, and we’re trying to leverage our mountains and natural beauty to build a thriving tourist industry.

 

Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson

Ryan Scorgie, president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce

The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and its 850 members take a great deal of interest in all kinds of resource development, including mineral development in Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson.

The main mineral projects in the area are the Ajax project (KGHM International), the New Afton mine (New Gold TSX:NGD) and Highland Valley Copper (Teck).

Opinions about resource development are mixed in Kamloops. Most of the working people here are for it, but many of the academics at Thompson Rivers University are against, so the Chamber of Commerce hears both sides of the argument. Our position is that if a project goes through the appropriate review process and passes it, then we support it.

In fact, the Chamber thinks process is so important that our Policy Development Committee developed a policy regarding resource development in 2016 called Supporting Canada’s Responsible Resource Development.

The policy statement is more important than its brevity might indicate, because it was adopted provincially just a few months after it was written.

Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development

(Photo: Neil Leonard/AME)

The committee writes, in part: “The Chamber believes that it is critical that B.C. maintains its reputation as a jurisdiction open to investment. Achieving the investments needed to ensure Canada’s competitiveness will require an efficient regulatory review process that ensures continued health and environmental protection of Canadians while generating jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

“A streamlined process will encourage investment by providing businesses with a clear and predictable process to protect the environment while making the best use of limited government resources.

“Inefficient and unpredictable processes may turn away potential investors and prevent businesses from being able to make informed location and logistic decisions. For example, the World Economic Forum has cited inefficient government bureaucracy as one of the biggest impediments to improving Canada’s economic competitiveness.

“We need to make sure that the regulatory review process is efficient and has a clear scope, reasonable timelines and the flexibility to address unforeseen circumstances.”

Originally published in the spring 2017 edition of Mineral Exploration. Posted here with the permission of the Association for Mineral Exploration.

Visual Capitalist: The re-awakening of the Golden Triangle

April 6th, 2017

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | April 6, 2017

The re-awakening of the Golden Triangle

 

Many years ago, a remote and mountainous region in northwestern British Columbia gained considerable attention as an emerging mineral district. With a rich mining history, one of the world’s largest silver mines (Eskay Creek, discovered in 1988) and million-ounce gold deposits, this area of incredible wealth became known as the Golden Triangle.

However, despite its obvious potential, the vast majority of land in this highly prospective region has been left mostly untouched by humans. A combination of factors, including low gold prices and a lack of infrastructure, led to the area lying dormant for decades.

Today, things are changing dramatically. The Golden Triangle is a new hotbed for mineral discovery, where over 130 million ounces of gold, 800 million ounces of silver and 40 billion pounds of copper have been found. The amazing part is that this is only scratching the surface of the region’s ultimate potential.

Skeena Resources TSXV:SKE and IDM Mining TSXV:IDM have generously helped put together the story on the re-awakening of the famed Golden Triangle.

The new gold rush

Why is the Golden Triangle at the centre of attention again? There are five main reasons:

1. New deposits found

The old adage is that the best place to find a new mine is near an existing one. Here are three major deposits in the Golden Triangle that have geologists and financiers buzzing:

KSM

Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM project is the largest gold project in the world. In 2014 it received the green light from Canada’s federal government to go ahead. A porphyry-style deposit, it has reserves of 38.8 million ounces of gold, 10.2 billion pounds of copper and 183 million ounces of silver.

Red Chris

This $700-million copper and gold mine entered production in 2015. Owned by Imperial Metals TSX:III, it will be in production until 2043 based on current mine life estimates. In 2016 alone, it produced 83 million pounds of copper, 47,000 ounces of gold and 190,000 ounces of silver.

Valley of the Kings

The latest, and perhaps most interesting, discovery in the Golden Triangle is slotted to reach commercial production in 2017. The Valley of the Kings, unlike the above porphyry-style deposits, contains extremely high-grade gold. With 15.6 million tonnes grading 16.1 g/t gold, this deposit has some of the richest ore in the world.

2. New Infrastructure

In recent years, the Golden Triangle has received three massively important infrastructure upgrades:

  • Paving of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway (north from Smithers)

  • Opening of ocean port facilities for export of concentrate at Stewart

  • Completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line to bring power into the Golden Triangle

3. Declining snow cover

Glacial ice and snow have been retreating in many parts of the region, revealing rocks never seen before by human eyes. Especially in a mineral-rich region such as the Golden Triangle, this is a very exciting prospect for mineral geologists.

4. A new geological explanation

The Golden Triangle region has complex geology that had befuddled explorers for decades—but recent work has made the picture much clearer. Geologist Jeff Kyba has put forth the following theory: Geological contact between Triassic-age Stuhini rocks and Jurassic-age Hazelton rocks is the key marker for copper-gold mineralization.

Most of the Triangle’s copper-gold deposits, whether they are large-scale porphyry and intrusion-related, are found within two kilometres of this contact. It’s been named the Red Line, and this new interpretation of the region’s geology could contribute to B.C.’s next mega deposit.

5. Gold price recovery

Since the “sleepy” days of the Golden Triangle, gold prices have increased three times, even after adjusting for inflation. Combined with new infrastructure, exciting projects and world-class mineral potential, the Golden Triangle is awake again.

What’s happening today?

Today, the Golden Triangle is buzzing with activity.

  • The Red Chris mine is now in operation

  • Valley of the Kings is entering production in 2017

  • KSM, the world’s largest gold deposit, is nearing potential construction

  • Historic mines like the Snip Mine and Granduc are being explored using modern methods

  • New high-grade gold is being found. Red Mountain and the old Premier gold mine are the sites of some of these discoveries

  • Dozens of companies are on the ground performing all phases of exploration

Many types of mineral deposits are being tested for, including high-grade gold veins, large-scale porphyries and VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) deposits. The Golden Triangle is once again a centre of attention and it could be poised to become one of the world’s most prolific concentrations of mineral wealth.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

See an infographic about the Golden Triangle’s mining history.

Earth science for everyone

July 29th, 2016

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

by Greg Klein

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

Outfitted with sensitive magnetometers, three Cessna Super Caravans
will fly the largest survey in Geoscience B.C.’s 11-year history.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

 

It’s probably one of the biggest geophysical surveys underway anywhere. Pilots now have three magnetometer-equipped Cessnas criss-crossing an especially rugged 24,000-square-kilometre expanse of west-central British Columbia on tight, 250-metre linespacing. This is Search Phase II, part of an even bigger project that will make “a generational contribution to better understand the area’s geology and mineral potential,” says Bruce Madu, VP of minerals and mining for Geoscience B.C. But the results will hardly be limited to industry. The non-profit’s mission is to access “earth science for everyone.”

Data of this quality rarely finds its way to junior explorers, let alone prospectors. But proprietary software makes it available to anyone with an internet connection. Besides mineral opportunities, practical advantages include land use planning for regional districts, local communities and First Nations.

The grid extends from Fort Fraser to Smithers, building on two previous surveys. Last year’s Phase I flew over neighbouring terrain between Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers. The 2013 TREK program covered an area bounded by Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Quesnel, conducting sampling and mapping, as well as airborne mag. The three surveys combined will cover 55,500 square kilometres, about the size of Nova Scotia.

Geoscience B.C. puts extensive resource knowledge into the public domain

When combined with two previous surveys, this year’s program
will provide magnetic data for 55,500 square kilometres.
(Photo: Geoscience B.C.)

TREK’s inspiration came from the Blackwater discovery, now New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed open pit mine with reserves of 8.2 million ounces gold and 61 million ounces silver. Yet “the surrounding geology is poorly understood,” Madu says.

The Phase II flyover includes another proposed mine, Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:PBM) Morrison copper-gold project, as well as Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako molybdenum mine and the former Bell-Granisle copper-gold mines. The survey just bypasses Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry copper mine.

Low prices put Endako on care and maintenance, with Huckleberry slated to follow this summer. But Geoscience B.C. helped extend the latter mine’s life by about two years, Madu says. “We flew some geophysics, the company participated and ended up drilling new ore. A couple of hundred jobs were given a couple more years.”

The region “clearly has substantial mineral potential,” Madu points out. “Even more importantly it has excellent infrastructure, lots of road networks, there’s rail in the area and hydro nearby, so it can be quite a cost-effective place to discover and develop a mine.”

Having just reconnoitred with the Search Phase II crew, Madu waxes enthusiastically about the staff, the three Cessna Super Caravans especially suited for this survey’s challenges, the ultra-sensitive magnetometers and the preliminary data. “It excites me—the quality is superb.”

Phase II comprises one of 13 projects scheduled for this year, with a budget totalling $2.5 million. “They cover all sorts of perspectives,” Madu says. “We’ll be active in the Sheep Creek, Barkerville and Cassiar gold camps, the Toodoggone region, we’ve got a mapping crew south of Terrace working on last year’s geophysics, we’ll be east of the Penticton gold camp around the Boundary area. We have chemistry projects re-analyzing almost 5,000 archive samples from southeastern British Columbia as well as the Atlin area. And we’ve got a lot of value-added projects on the go this year, taking existing data and putting together a more complete picture combining geophysics, geochemistry and geology, which I think is a big advantage for the industry’s future, being able to have these super-sized data sets.”

Not limited to mineral exploration, Geoscience B.C. also conducts surveys related to areas such as oil and gas, geothermal energy and groundwater.

In addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.—Bruce Madu,
VP of minerals and
mining for Geoscience B.C.

“On the minerals side, during our 11 years of operation we surveyed a large portion of the province with geophysics, we re-analyzed almost the entire suite of geochemical samples for the province, we provided a lot of innovative research in glacial tills and tree-top sampling, we funded new geochemical methods using water in the field as well as capturing gases and sampling organic materials. So in addition to fundamental baseline data creation, we do a lot of innovative research as well.”

Next year’s plans call for Search Phase III extending northeast to the Quesnel copper belt and covering a region that hosts Imperial’s Mount Polley copper-gold-silver mine, the auriferous turf of Barkerville Gold Mines TSXV:BGM, Thompson Creek’s Mount Milligan copper-gold operation and AuRico Metals’ (TSX:AMI) gold-copper-silver deposits at Kemess.

Looking further ahead, Madu sees the organization “looking at the mining cycle instead of just exploration to see what we can do to help the development or efficiency of mining. We might look at research into subjects like water, tailings and metallurgy, for example.”

The group was founded in 2005 when the province put up money as an inducement to industry contributions. A lot of those contributions come from preferred rates or volunteer work supporting a small staff. Regional trusts have also contributed. Last May the province forked over $5 million.

The results of all that go online, available to everyone. Geoscience B.C.’s Earth Science Viewer opens with a satellite image of the province. Users can zoom in on a particular area, load a layer of data from the selections to the left, then overlay additional data. New info comes online as survey results are processed. Mineral tenures are updated daily, with links to the government’s database of claimholders.

“Viewers can put the tie-dyed geophysical charts on top of the geology layer to see how they agree or don’t agree,” says Madu. “I think that’s quite a powerful prospecting tool because one thing we want to do is challenge assumptions. If the geology and geophysics are telling different stories, we want people to research that and explore it.”

A planned upgrade, possibly within a year, will make the viewer three-dimensional, “something like Google Earth where you can tip it on its side and fly around valleys a bit,” he adds.

With a wealth of practical info for industry and communities alike, the viewer “puts the power of information into the hands of people who can use it.”

Visual Capitalist: The history of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle

July 7th, 2016

posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | July 7, 2016

In a hidden corner of northwestern Canada lies some of the world’s most significant mineral potential. Billions of dollars of undiscovered gold, silver and copper still sit within an unexplored area that was once remote. However, only now can these world-class deposits be finally tapped. Skeena Resources TSXV:SKE has helped Visual Capitalist to put together the story of the famed Golden Triangle.

The history of the Golden Triangle

Even before Canada was officially a country, the area now known as the Golden Triangle was a hub for prospectors looking to strike it rich.

In 1861, Alexander “Buck” Choquette struck gold at the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk rivers, kickstarting the Stikine Gold Rush. More than 800 prospectors left Victoria to go to the Stikine in search of gold.

A few short years later, an even more significant rush would occur just to the north in the Cassiar region—it’s where British Columbia’s biggest ever gold nugget, weighing in at 73 ounces, would be found. The Atlin Gold Rush, an offshoot of the world-famous Klondike Gold Rush, would also occur just north of the Triangle.

The first discoveries

The companies that first worked in the Golden Triangle balanced its richness against the costs of its remote location.

Premier gold mine

The first big discovery in the Golden Triangle was at the Premier gold mine, which started operations in 1918. The company that first owned it, Premier Gold Mining Company, returned as much as 200% on the stock market between 1921 and 1923. At the time the Christian Science Monitor called it “one of the greatest silver and gold mines in the world.”

Snip mine

Discovered in 1964 by Cominco, the deposit stayed dormant until 1986, when it was drilled in a joint venture with Delaware Resources. Murray Pezim’s Prime Resources bought out Delaware after the stock ran from a dollar to $28 a share.

The high-grade Snip mine produced approximately one million ounces of gold from 1991 until 1999 at an average gold grade of 27.5 gams per tonne.

Eskay Creek

In 1988, after 109 drill holes, tiny exploration companies Stikine Resources and Calpine Resources finally hit the hole they needed at Eskay Creek with grades as high as 27.2 g/t and 30.2 g/t gold.

Eskay would go on to become Canada’s highest-grade gold mine and the world’s fifth-largest silver producer, with production well in excess of three million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver.

Grades:

  • Gold: 49 g/t
  • Silver: 2,406 g/t
  • Lead: 3.2%
  • Zinc: 5.2%

By the time all was said and done, the stock price of Stikine Resources would go from $1 to $67, after it was bought by International Corona.

Why did these three rich mines shut down?

Despite the gold in the Triangle being extremely high grade, lower gold prices in the late ’90s made the economics challenging. Meanwhile, the lack of infrastructure in this remote area meant that power, labour and logistics costs were sky high.

Both of these things have changed today, and activity at the Golden Triangle is now fast and furious.

Gaining access to the Triangle

The Golden Triangle is a hot area for exploration again. This is for three main reasons: higher gold prices, new infrastructure and modern discoveries.

Higher gold prices

Average gold price (1999): $279 (adjusted for inflation: $398)
Average gold price (2016): $1,202

Gold prices are more than three times as high today, even after adjusting for inflation. Combined with the Golden Triangle’s high grades, this becomes even more attractive.

New infrastructure

Today, road access to the area is easier than ever and a new transmission line will dramatically reduce the cost of power for companies operating in the Triangle.

Recent improvements:

  • Completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line to the Golden Triangle. The Northwest Transmission Line goes 335 kilometres from Terrace to Bob Quinn Lake and north to the Red Chris mine

  • Paving of the Stewart-Cassiar highway north from Smithers (Highway 37)

  • Opening of ocean port facilities for export of concentrate in Stewart

  • Completion of a three-dam, 277 MW hydroelectric facility located 70 kilometres northwest of Stewart

Modern discoveries

The next gold rush at the Golden Triangle has already started. Just some of the new discoveries in the area include Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM project, Pretium Resources’ (TSX:PVG) Valley of the Kings deposit and Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Red Chris mine.

Yet despite this track record of new discoveries and mines being built in the area, a B.C. government report estimates that only 0.0006% of the Golden Triangle has been mined to date.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

May 18th, 2016

by Greg Klein | May 18, 2016

A non-profit organization that puts geophysical results in the public domain, Geoscience B.C. announced another $5 million in provincial funding on May 18. The group now plans its largest airborne magnetic survey ever, with the Search Phase II project on a 24,000-square-kilometre grid over west-central British Columbia.

Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

The region hosts the former Bell-Granisle porphyry copper-gold mines and one of North America’s largest molybdenum mines, Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako, now on care and maintenance. Just outside the survey area sits Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry operation and New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed Blackwater gold-silver open pit.

Calling the project “a new generation of airborne magnetic survey,” Geoscience B.C. VP of minerals and mining Bruce Madu said, “The line spacing we will fly will be much tighter than in previous surveys of this scale, providing a data resolution that is much more detailed and accurate.

“The Search Phase II survey is a key piece of the puzzle that will bridge the gap between the Search Phase I geophysical survey completed last year and the TREK survey in 2013,” he added. “Together, these three adjoining projects will provide a continuous modern survey of high-quality magnetic data covering a 55,500-square-kilometre area—equivalent to the size of Nova Scotia.”

Results will be posted next year on the organization’s data release page and its Earth Science viewer. Beneficiaries will include not only the mineral exploration industry but also local communities and land use planners.

“Usually only the largest companies have access to this kind of data,” said Rob Maurer of the Smithers Exploration Group, which supports mineral exploration and mining in the province’s northwest. “But in B.C., the innovative work conducted by Geoscience B.C. puts tools in the hands of any individual who wants to go out and prospect for minerals.”

B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman credited the organization with helping strengthen his sector’s regulation. “They have done outstanding work identifying deeper saline aquifers appropriate for industry use, which goes a long way towards better protecting ground- and surface-water needed to sustain First Nations and other communities in northeast B.C.”

The organization released its previous airborne mag findings in January. Last month it announced results from an innovative program of helicopter-borne tree-top geochemical sampling.

In the wake of Mount Polley

May 5th, 2016

B.C. vows to toughen mining enforcement following another inquiry

by Greg Klein

To anyone hoping for a rigorous study, the timing was fortuitous. The August 2014 Mount Polley tailings dam collapse happened just months after British Columbia’s auditor general launched an inquiry into provincial oversight of the mining industry. The result was this week’s highly critical report that found “the same issues in the Mount Polley file as we [found] throughout the audit—that is, too few resources, infrequent inspections and lack of enforcement.” AG Carol Bellringer wants a shakeup of oversight and enforcement. But the government’s resisting a key recommendation, leaving intact what she calls an irreconcilable conflict.

Bellringer argues that B.C.’s mining ministry has a mandate to promote the industry, making the department unsuited to regulatory duties. She wants that responsibility transferred to a separate agency. The government disagrees, saying instead it will create a compliance and enforcement board.

B.C. vows to toughen mining enforcement following another inquiry

Other than that, the province says it accepts the AG’s recommendations, which add 17 suggestions to 26 others made by a panel of engineering experts and B.C.’s chief mines inspector regarding tailings facilities. Even so, the government and AG continue to disagree on a number of issues.

The audit examined both B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Ministry of Environment, finding they focus on permitting, not enforcement. In fact “we found almost every one of our expectations for a robust compliance and enforcement program within the MEM and the MoE were not met.”

Looking at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley disaster, the AG says the engineering panel emphasized how the failure happened, blaming it largely on a departure from the original design. The AG said she considered why: “We found that the ministry did not ensure that the tailings dam was being built or operated according to the approved design, nor did it ensure that the mining company rectified design and operational deficiencies.”

The engineering panel, on the other hand, stated that inspections “would not have prevented failure.”

The AG also examined Elk Valley coal mining, which over 100 years “has resulted in high concentrations of selenium in the water system.” For the past two decades the MoE has “noted dramatic annual increases of selenium in the watershed’s tributaries … but took no substantive action to change it,” the report charges. “Only recently has the ministry attempted to control this pollution through permits granted under the Environmental Management Act.”

In response, mines minister Bill Bennett said his department’s orders to Teck Coal will reduce selenium “to acceptable levels and the company, not the taxpayer, will cover those costs.”

The government has its new mining compliance and enforcement board slated for operations within 90 days. That would bring greater integration between the ministries of mines and environment, as well as the Environmental Assessment Office, according to Bennett. But he says the AG’s recommendation for a separate agency suggests ministry officials are “incapable of differentiating between promotion and regulation of mining, a view government does not share.”

Bellringer pronounced herself “disappointed in the resistance to this overall recommendation as it is consistent with many other jurisdictions’ response to similar incidences.” Speaking with ResourceClips.com, AG communications manager Colleen Rose said her office doesn’t have examples of other jurisdictions with separate compliance agencies. But she pointed out that Ontario’s auditor general made a similar recommendation last December.

MEM has estimated that its financial security deposits for major mines are under-secured by more than $1.2 billion, yet the ministry has not disclosed this to the public or to legislators, or communicated the potential risk this poses.—Carol Bellringer,
B.C. auditor general

Apart from protecting the environment, the AG made recommendations to protect taxpayers. The report called on government to ensure companies pay the costs of an environmental failure and post sufficient security deposits for reclamation. The province says new legislation will require miners to pay into a spill preparedness and response organization. As for reclamation deposits, they’ve risen from a 1984 total of $10 million to “more than $773 million by the end of 2014.”

But government estimates show the province’s major mines remain under-secured by over $1.2 billion, the AG states. “Yet the ministry has not disclosed this to the public or to legislators, or communicated the potential risk this poses.”

The legacy of an environmentally cavalier past might demonstrate that risk. The auditor noted that Yukon’s Faro mine, in operation from 1969 to 1998, left the territory’s taxpayers with a clean-up bill estimated at $700 million. B.C. taxpayers put up $46 million for a water treatment plant at the former Britannia mine, which ended its 70-year life in 1974. Annual operating costs come to $3 million for a facility that’s expected to operate in perpetuity.

Ottawa estimates that Yellowknife’s Giant mine, in operation from 1948 to 1999, left federal taxpayers on the hook for about $1 billion.

Meanwhile B.C. continues working its way through the 26 recommendations for tailings facilities following two Mount Polley inquiries. The province has also tabled legislation to toughen penalties for mining infractions with up to $1 million in fines and three years in jail.

Download the B.C. auditor general’s report.

B.C. miners to face higher fines, longer prison terms in Mount Polley aftermath

February 26th, 2016

by Greg Klein | February 26, 2016

Delinquent miners in British Columbia could face up to $1 million in fines and three years in jail under a Mines Act amendment introduced February 25. The province vowed to impose stricter enforcement and heavier penalties in response to the collapse of a nearly 40-metre-high tailings dam at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold mine in August 2014.

Currently, court-imposed penalties can range up to $100,000 and a year’s imprisonment. The government can also issue a stop-work order or cancel a mine permit. But in addition to the stronger court deterrent, the new regs will allow B.C. to fine companies without prosecution.

BC miners to face higher fines, longer prison terms in Mount Polley aftermath

The amendment will bring the Mines Act “in line with other provincial natural resource legislation, including the Environmental Management Act, the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Oil and Gas Activities Act, all of which include administrative monetary penalties and more severe penalties for court convictions,” according to a government statement.

The legislation results from investigations by B.C.’s chief mines inspector and an independent panel of three engineering experts into the Mount Polley disaster. Twenty-six recommendations called for stronger regulation, as well as better corporate governance and engineering practices.

In January 2015 the panel attributed the collapse to a deposit of glacial till eight metres below the base of the dam, which the designers didn’t properly understand. A review of other mines this year found “no immediate risks or safety concerns” with other tailings dam foundations, the province stated.

The government noted that the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia will introduce improved guidelines for dam site assessments and that the Mining Association of Canada has issued recommendations following a review of its own tailings management requirements.

B.C. also plans to require all operating mines to establish independent boards to provide “third-party advice on the design, construction, operation and closure” of tailings facilities.

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, B.C. NDP mining critic Norm Macdonald charged the governing B.C. Liberals are “deeply beholden to these mining interests and their record over time has been a record of leniency and a lack of proper oversight.”

Macdonald told the paper B.C. hadn’t been using enforcement tools already in place. “He added that not using a $1-million fine is no different than not using a $100,000 fine,” the Sun stated.

Indeed, a Sun investigation last year “found that no fines had been levied in the courts under the Mines Act since 1989. Instead, the mines ministry issued orders in an effort to remedy workplace and safety violations: 2,712 between 2005 and 2013. The Sun’s investigation also showed that inspections by geo-technical engineers fell dramatically after the Liberals came to power in 2001. While inspections had increased in recent years, none were carried out at Mount Polley in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”

Another Mount Polley outcome could be participation by Alaskan natives and government in B.C. environmental reviews, under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two governments in November.

Mount Polley resumed operations in August 2015, a year after the disaster.

MOU offers Americans scrutiny over B.C. mining projects

November 25th, 2015

by Greg Klein | November 25, 2015

British Columbians and Alaskans will seek involvement in each other’s mining proposals following a memorandum of understanding signed November 25. The MOU calls for governments and natives to take part in environmental assessment and permitting processes in their neighbour’s jurisdiction. But with an emphasis on trans-boundary waters, which mostly would consist of rivers and streams originating in B.C., Canadian projects might get more scrutiny than those next door.

B.C.-Alaska MOU pledges cross-border co-operation on mining and environment

The memo follows visits by B.C. mines minister Bill Bennett and Alaska lieutenant-governor Byron Mallott to each other’s turf. Bennett’s trips, following the tailings dam collapse at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley mine, tried to reassure Alaskans about B.C. environmental practices.

In August 2014, just weeks after the disaster, Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources asked Canada’s Environmental Assessment Agency for participation in the approval process for Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM gold-copper project near the state border. Provincial approval had already been granted the previous month. The federal permit came through last December.

Other prominent projects in B.C.’s northwestern corner include:

  • Galore Creek, a NovaGold Resources TSX:NG/Teck Resources TSX:TCK.A and TCK.B copper-gold-silver project that reached pre-feasibility in 2011

  • Schaft Creek, a Copper Fox Metals TSXV:CUU/Teck copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project that achieved feasibility in 2013

  • Chieftain Metals’ (TSXV:CFB) Tulsequah Chief zinc-copper-gold project, now permitted for construction

  • Pretium Resources’ (TSX:PVG) Brucejack gold-silver project, slated for 2017 commercial production

  • Imperial’s Red Chris copper mine, which achieved commercial production in July

The MOU sets no timeframe for achieving its goals. Money for the cross-border initiative would come from existing government budgets, with the possibility of additional “alternate public or private sector funding.”