Wednesday 12th August 2020

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Posts tagged ‘Imperial Metals Corp (III)’

Taranis Resources alleges “catastrophic deficiencies and concerns” with B.C. mines ministry

March 16th, 2020

by Greg Klein | March 16, 2020

Stating it’s “in a unique position to experience every aspect of the permitting process in B.C.,” an explorer levelled strong complaints about how a bulk sampling application has been handled. Taranis Resources TSXV:TRO, operator of the Thor polymetallic project in southeastern British Columbia, made the charges in a March 16 news release following a conference call with ministry officials.

Taranis Resources alleges catastrophic deficiencies and concerns with B.C. mines ministry

Taranis received its most recent drill permit last January, after
filing an application in March 2019. (Photo: Taranis Resources)

In October 2018 the company applied for permission to conduct a 10,000-kilogram sample. The program would supply material for metallurgical tests as part of Thor’s PEA studies and also remove environmentally harmful stockpiles resulting from historic mining, Taranis states. Since then, the company maintains, it has dealt with “28 technical reviewers from four sectors” over a 17-month period.

Responding in 2018, the government applied requirements previously used only for large-scale commercial mining but which were to be adapted to the bulk mining proposal, the company states. Taranis says it agreed, but a technical review that should have taken 60 days has dragged on since September 2019.

Input from 28 technical reviewers led to modifications of site layouts, water treatment and other aspects of the original proposal, Taranis avers, but the process also featured “multiple catastrophic deficiencies and concerns,” as well as “moving goalposts.”

The latter consisted of a demand that engineering drawings be stamped “final” instead of “draft,” undermining “the spirit of technical review.” The company called for assurance that “‘final’ site-engineering plans aren’t modified multiple times based on whims of improperly managed technical reviewers.”

During a March 12 conference call between the company and ministry officials, Taranis states, deputy chief mines inspector Lowell Constable attributed Mount Polley to the decision to apply large-scale commercial mining standards to the bulk sample application.

In a 2014 tailings dam failure at Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley copper-gold operation, some eight million cubic metres of waste poured into the waterways of B.C.’s Cariboo region.

According to Taranis, Constable said that “there are no minor tailings facilities anymore in the code. So big or small, I’m not going to lie, there are a lot of pieces still moving around in the tailings management code.”

The company argues that “it is unreasonable that full-scale commercial mine permitting scope and associated costs be applied carte blanche to any and all test production scenarios.”

While the company believed conditional permitting would be a “cornerstone” of its application, Taranis quoted mines ministry executive regional director Heather Cullen as saying, “We are getting away from issuing conditional permits—conditional permits are not the way we are going.…”

It is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation…—Taranis Resources
board of directors

Taranis maintains that the conference call demonstrated that “there are no clear, concise, reasonable permitting allowances for exploration bulk sampling in B.C.—an essential exploration tool to the mining business. Up until 2018, there was a well-defined permitting process for exploration bulk sampling.”

The company’s board of directors states: “Based on our experience, it is easy to conclude that the current B.C. government is intent on eliminating the mining industry in the province by instituting a barrage of vague and ever-changing requirements for permitting and operation, with a complement of inexperienced and unqualified civil servants in positions of authority whose obvious intention is nothing less than making sure nothing gets done.”

A week before the conference call, independent MLA and former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver criticized the New Democratic government for prolonging “regulatory inconsistencies” regarding Pacific Booker Minerals’ (TSXV:BKM) proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine. After the initial rejection by B.C.’s previous Liberal government in 2012, the provincial Supreme Court found the decision “failed to comport with the requirements of procedural fairness.” Ordered to reassess the proposal, the NDP government “once again rejected the project in order to undergo further assessment,” Weaver argued. “However, in its order, the government appeared to issue unclear directions that substantially delay the process.”

Thor’s 2013 maiden resource gave the project open pit and underground resources totalling:

  • indicated: 640,000 tonnes averaging 0.88 g/t gold, 187 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.51% lead and 3.51% zinc

  • inferred: 424,000 tonnes averaging 0.98 g/t gold, 176 g/t silver, 0.14% copper, 2.26% lead and 3.2% zinc

The property includes five zones that began mining in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

July 2, 2020, update: Taranis Resources gets B.C. Ombudsperson intervention in regulatory dispute; B.C. plans Mines Act revisions.

Open and shut cases: West

December 20th, 2019

A look at the western provinces’ mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020

by Greg Klein

A look at the western provinces’ mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020

Western Potash began Saskatchewan’s first solution mining operation for this commodity in July.
(Photo: Western Potash)

 

This is Part 2 of a four-part series.

The Exxon Valdez of Canadian mining went into dry dock at the end of May, as Imperial Metals TSX:III put its Mount Polley copper-gold operation on care and maintenance. The company that traded above $16.50 prior to the August 2014 tailings dam failure spent most of 2019 well below $3. Now holding two suspended mines, the company’s operational portfolio has dwindled to a 30% stake in B.C.’s Red Chris copper-gold open pits. In August Imperial sold the other 70% to ASX-listed Newcrest Mining for US$775 million.

But if human error can dump eight million cubic metres of tailings muck into the waterways, human ingenuity can respond. As the five-year anniversary approached, Geoscience BC founding president/CEO and Imperial’s former chief scientific officer ’Lyn Anglin offered her perspective on the $70-million clean-up program, which continues during the mine’s suspension.

 

Maybe its status as Canada’s largest diversified miner leaves Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A/TSX:TECK.B open to greater diversity in downturns. The company blamed global economic uncertainties for “a significant negative effect on the prices for our products, particularly steelmaking coal.” But the company attributes its most recent coal mine closures not to market forces but to depletion. That was the verdict for the mid-year shutdown of B.C.’s Coal Mountain and for Alberta’s Cardinal River, scheduled to follow in mid-2020.

A look at the western provinces’ mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020

Some depleted mines notwithstanding, Teck Resources
has over four decades of B.C. coal reserves.
(Photo: Teck Resources)

Although Teck warned employees in September of layoffs, noting a price drop from about $210 to about $130 per tonne over the previous weeks, further mine closures weren’t specified. Depletion hardly concerns Teck’s four remaining Kootenay-region coal operations. The company says there’s enough steelmaking stuff to keep Line Creek, Greenhills, Elkview and Fording River busy for 18, 28, 38 and 43 years respectively.

While the company now focuses on its Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 copper development project in Chile and its JV at the port of Vancouver’s Neptune terminal, Teck’s $20-billion proposal for Alberta might serve as an affront to the great cause of our time. In July Teck managed to get a recommendation of approval from a joint federal/provincial environmental review panel for its Frontier oilsands project. Media reports, however, suggest Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and his cabinet might reject the panel’s recommendation.

 

Whether it brought relief or astonishment to local supporters, in July Western Potash finally began building its long-delayed Milestone potash project in southern Saskatchewan.

A look at the western provinces’ mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020

A determined-looking Western Potash group
celebrates a milestone in Saskatchewan mining.
(Photo: Western Potash)

Expectations had risen and fallen a few too many times since at least 2015, when the company announced it had secured funds sufficient for a scaled-down capex. But in October Western began solution mining, the first application of this method for potash in Saskatchewan. The innovative operation will also be “the first potash mine in the world that will leave no salt tailings on the surface, thereby significantly reducing water consumption.”

Now a subsidiary of Western Resources TSX:WRX, the company plans “hot mining” early in the new year to pump brine containing potassium chloride into a crystallization pond at surface, leaving unwanted sodium chloride underground. By Q3 2020 a newly built plant will process the potash for an off-take agreement covering all Phase I production. Phase II calls for expanded operations to support an average 146,000 tpa output over a 12-year life.

 

Yet the mine starts up amid cutbacks and shutdowns elsewhere. The province’s big three potash producers, Nutrien TSX:NTR, Mosaic NYSE:MOS and K+S Potash Canada, all reduced output in 2019. Between them, Nutrien and Mosaic suspended four operations, at least one indefinitely.

In August workers at Mosaic’s Colonsay operation learned of an indefinite layoff, reportedly to last anywhere from six months to a matter of years. Further discouragement came in November when the United Steelworkers confirmed that the company was moving equipment from Colonsay to its Esterhazy operation, itself subject to reduced output.

A look at the western provinces’ mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020

Saskatchewan’s tallest structure stands over a shaft reaching
more than a kilometre underground at Mosaic’s Esterhazy K3.
(Photo: Mosaic)

Esterhazy’s ambitious K3 expansion project, however, continues unfazed by current market conditions. With construction started in 2011, commissioning begun in December 2018 and full production not scheduled until 2024, the new underground operation will replace Esterhazy’s K1 and K2 mines, keeping the K1 and K2 mills busy at the world’s largest potash mining complex.

In September Nutrien announced it would “proactively” suspend its Allan, Lanigan and Vanscoy potash mines. Workers at the first two got December 29 recall notices, but Vanscoy’s resumption has yet to be revealed.

Nevertheless, company bosses expressed optimistic 2020 foresight. It will be “a strong year for crop input demand for which we are well-positioned to benefit,” predicted Nutrien president/CEO Chuck Magro. His Mosaic counterpart Joc O’Rourke expects “a very strong application season in Brazil and North America, and a better supply and demand balance in 2020.” .

 

That year or the next just might be momentous for Saskatchewan potash. BHP Group NYSE:BHP’s board of directors has until February 2021 to decide whether to complete Jansen, a $17-billion project that would challenge the province’s potash protocol.

The threat of competition might take an unexpected turn, however. As reported in the Financial Post, at least two analysts say rival companies could attack pre-emptively by boosting production to lower prices and discourage new mine development.

 

Holding top positions globally are Saskatchewan as potash-producing jurisdiction and Saskatoon-headquartered Nutrien as potash miner. The province also boasts world stature for uranium but has no new U3O8 operations expected during this survey’s time frame. Even so, industry and investors watch with interest as Denison Mines TSX:DML, NexGen Energy TSX:NXE and Fission Uranium TSX:FCU each proceed with advanced large-scale projects.

This is Part 2 of a four-part series.

Geoscience BC seeks to put “hidden” copper-gold resources into the public domain

December 6th, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 6, 2019

Additional base and precious metals could be waiting for discovery in a region already hosting some of British Columbia’s largest mines. A new program by Geoscience BC plans a number of measures to search for potential deposits hidden beneath glacial till.

Under scrutiny will be a 50,700-kilometre swath of Quesnel terrane between Centerra Gold’s (TSX:CG) Mount Milligan gold-copper mine to the northwest and, to the southeast, Taseko Mines’ (TSX:TKO) 75%-held Gibraltar copper-molybdenum operation and Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Mount Polley project, now on care and maintenance. Backed by $2.9 million in funding, the Central Interior Copper-Gold Research project begins with two programs. One will analyze new and existing till samples with satellite imagery to trace samples and geochemical anomalies to their source. Another program will use existing geophysical data to identify, map and model potential copper-gold deposits.

Geoscience BC seeks to put “hidden” copper-gold resources into public domain

Receding glaciers may have helped hide valuable resources.
(Photo: Geoscience BC)

Results are scheduled for 2021, when drilling is anticipated and additional related projects may take place. Data will be made public for the benefit of communities, governments and academia, as well as the mining sector.

Consequently, support for the program came from communities as well as industry. At a December 5 open house North Central Local Government Association president Lara Beckett said, “The communities of the NCLGA benefit from the valuable public data on water, energy and minerals that these initiatives provide. NCLGA members have passed resolutions in support of the work of Geoscience BC and look forward to working together on future opportunities to strengthen communities throughout north-central British Columbia.”

Association for Mineral Exploration president/CEO Kendra Johnston called the work “important to AME members because the data and information that they provide inspire new mineral exploration and attract new investment to British Columbia. We look forward to seeing the results from the first two projects, and to learning more about future phases.”

Other recently announced Geoscience BC programs include Porphyry Vectoring Techniques in Advanced Argillic Altered Rocks, a study of three known porphyry copper-gold deposits in the province’s northwest and north-central regions.

Earlier last month Geoscience BC published a report on mineral deposit types in the Toodoggone area of B.C.’s north-central region. Among several other projects, the non-profit group is also studying methods of extracting rare earth elements from B.C. coal deposits.

Learn more about the Central Interior Copper-Gold Research project.

Aurvista Gold to expand BOD, add advisory committee to further Abitibi project

July 24th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 24, 2017

Update: On July 27 Aurvista Gold announced its technical advisory committee members.

Following an extensive drill program and ahead of an August 15 AGM, Aurvista Gold TSXV:AVA presented a lineup of nominees for an expanded board of directors and announced a management appointment to help advance the Douay project in Quebec’s Abitibi. Still to be named are personnel for a newly created technical advisory committee.

Aurvista Gold to expand BOD, add advisory committee to further Abitibi project

Aurvista hopes Highway 109 leads
to the “next big Canadian gold story.”

A veteran of Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN and its predecessor Ivanplats, David Broughton shared PDAC’s Thayer Lindsley and the Association for Mineral Exploration’s Colin Spence awards for major discoveries of copper at Kamoa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and PGMs at Flatreef, South Africa. Closer to Douay, he’s worked on mining projects in the Casa Berardi, Joutel, Timmins and Kirkland Lake areas. After retiring from his full-time position with Ivanhoe, Broughton became the company’s senior adviser of exploration and geology. He also works as a consultant for other companies.

Jay Chmelauskas acts as a corporate development consultant for Lithium Americas TSX:LAC after serving a number of roles including technology development, permitting, engineering, financing, construction and commissioning with one of the company’s predecessors, Western Lithium USA. As president/CEO of Jinshan Gold Mines, he led the development of China’s largest gold-producing operation and led exploration efforts that have since brought about an additional gold mine in China.

Pierre Lebel serves as chairperson of Imperial Metals TSX:III and a director of West Kirkland Mining TSXV:WKM. Holding an MBA as well as a law degree, he was named the Mining Association of British Columbia’s 2012 Mining Person of the Year and received AME’s E.A. Scholz medal for outstanding contribution to mine development in B.C.

With over 20 years of mining finance experience, Akiko Levinson has led Irving Resources CSE:IRV and Gold Canyon Resources TSXV:GCU, as well as serving as a director of Novo Resources TSXV:NVO.

Janine North’s background includes managing logging and trucking companies, as well as Crown land tenures in B.C. A former AME director who recently retired as the CEO of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, she currently serves as a director of Conifex Timber TSX:CFF and BC Hydro.

We are focused on building the next big Canadian gold story. Establishing an independent and diverse board with experience discovering world class deposits and leading top tier companies puts Aurvista in the best possible position to achieve success.—Matthew Hornor,
Aurvista Gold president/CEO

A 35-year metallurgical engineer, Maurice Tagami acts as VP of mining operations for Wheaton Precious Metals TSX:WPM, where he’s responsible for maintaining partnerships with 21 mines and eight development projects. He also served as president/CEO of Asanko Gold TSX:AKG predecessor Keegan Resources up to July 2012.

Aurvista president/CEO Matthew Hornor will be the company’s sole management nominee for the board. Running for re-election will be chairperson Gerald McCarvill and directors Edmund King and Sean Charland.

Joining the company as VP of corporate development, Joness Lang’s most recent experience includes six years with prospect generator Riverside Resources TSXV:RRI, where he co-led equity financings, built joint ventures and strategic alliances, and negotiated numerous gold and silver acquisitions.

Aurvista plans to announce a newly created technical advisory committee made up of “personnel covering all of the key disciplines required to bring the Douay gold project to the next level,” Hornor stated.

“We are focused on building the next big Canadian gold story,” he added. “Establishing an independent and diverse board with experience discovering world class deposits and leading top tier companies puts Aurvista in the best possible position to achieve success.”

The news follows a backlog of assays released last week from a 59-hole, 23,965-metre campaign on the 30,500-hectare property and recent financings that closed on $10.1 million.

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.