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Mine executive promises new jobs in Princeton following acquisition

Hudbay acquires Copper Mountain Mine amid lingering controversy with Indian bands

Changes are coming for Copper Mountain Mine (CMM), which was officially acquired by Hudbay Minerals on June 20. Executives are promising the future of the newly-merged firm is bright and will be positive for the community.

The town’s largest employer – with approximately 470 workers – was bought for $439 million.

The combined firm is now the third largest copper producer in Canada, and also operates long term mines in Peru and the United States.

Javier Del Rio, senior vice-president of Hudbay, told the Spotlight the mine should provide employment in Princeton “for generations…We believe there is a lot of potential.”

While details have not been finalized, he predicted an expansion of the mine’s maintenance team, and a greater demand for haul truck drivers.

Del Rio said Copper Mountain and Hudbay are now in a position to share technologies and best practices.

Specifically, the mining executive with 30 years of experience, said he believes the new owners can benefit from the expertise of Copper Mountain’s emergency response and safety teams.

According to Hudbay’s website, the company also hopes to find $20 million US in operating cost reductions, through synergies.

While company bosses were at the mine site to celebrate the acquisition, the merger was not without controversy. The Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB) and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) issued a joint press release the next day criticizing the operation.

“Our relationship with CMM is strained and trust has always been an issue,” said LSIB Chief Keith Crow.

“Our focus has always been the impacts to land and water. The Similkameen River is the lifeblood of our valley and cumulative impacts are detrimental to our way of life.

“If the relationship does not improve with Hudbay, we are prepared for action.”

Following shareholder approvals between the two companies, talks with Copper Mountain broke down ahead of the merger, leading to the band’s frustration reaching “a boiling point” over what they see as a disregard for Indigenous concerns.

“Hudbay now owns a mine on our lands, and they need to know how much unfinished business they have inherited.”

Tuesday, June 27 Hudbay provided Black Press with a statement.

“We are committed to working with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Upper Similkameen Indian Band in a respectful manner and ensuring our Copper Mountain Mine continues to have a positive impact on all local stakeholders,” the statement reads.

“Our approach to community engagement is to build relationships based on trust, transparency and mutual respect. When we enter a region, we collaborate with the communities to understand their social and economic priorities and support development programs that address these needs.”

Mayor Spencer Coyne and members of Princeton council were on hand to mark the acquisition last Wednesday.

“We want to be good partners,” said Coyne. “Copper Mountain has a long history in Princeton and mining is a huge part of our history.”

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