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

Mining activity picking up in B.C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen compost project receives recognition

Federation of Canadian Municipalities names regional district for environmental leadership

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm have died of illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

More wildfire smoke to fill the Okanagan

The smoke is coming from wildfires in California but is expected to be much lighter

COLUMN: The effects of proroguing Parliament

Only four hours were allotted for debating $50 billion in deficit spending

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Documentary to celebrate the Shuswap’s music scene

Local initiative to feature several of the region’s artists

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Guns seized in relation to southeast Kelowna murder investigation

RCMP seized several firearms from a West Kelowna home on Tuesday

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

First Nations Health Authority chief medical officer concerned with rising COVID-19 cases

“There’s still so much we don’t know and we’re learning everyday about this particular virus.”

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Okanagan man accused of attacking two young boys back in court

Brian Lamb will remain behind bars until at least Oct. 14

Most Read