Princeton’s Copper Mountain Mine is ahead of the provincial government’s plan to boost B.C.’s mining industry by tapping into growing demand in Asian markets.
Copper Mountain already exports all of its product to Japan – a country hungry for Canadian copper.
“The concentrate goes to Japan for smelting and refining, and then the Japanese sell it,” said Copper Mountain manager Bill Dodds.
The mine’s concentrate includes copper, gold and silver.
“Strong Asian markets combined with a high price mean the future is bright,” Dodds said.
The provincial government announced on May 16 that eight new mines will be created in B.C. and nine existing ones will be expanded by 2015. B.C. has a total of 19 major mines, including five new mines that opened last year in Princeton, Prince George, Kamloops, Barkerville and Dease Lake.
If the price of copper stays high, Copper Mountain will run long past its 17-year expected life span, Dodds said.
He said there is more demand for copper in Japan than in Canada.
Exploration is being done in Copper Mountain Mine to find more sources of copper, gold and silver.
“We have diamond drill crews on the site working on exploration to improve the reserve,” Dodds said.
Copper Mountain mine produced 14 million pounds of copper in the first quarter of 2012. During this time, the mine shipped concentrate containing 16 million pounds of copper to Japan for smelting. Close to 6,000 ounces of gold and 124,000 ounces of silver were shipped.
Copper Mountain made a gross profit of $27 million from January to the beginning of April.
“Looking to the second quarter, management’s efforts are fully focused on optimizing mill throughput and incrementally increasing the daily tonnage, working towards the design capacity of 35,000 tons per day,” said Copper Mountain president Jim O’Rourke.
“Improvements continued in April with concentrator operating time reaching 91.6 per cent and the mill throughput rate averaging 34,670 tonnes per operating day resulting in production of 6.2 million pounds of copper, an increase of 28 per cent over the prior months production.”
The mill’s design capacity should be met on a consistent basis in 2012, he said.
The mining industry in B.C. made progress when the government began to clear the backlog of permit applications. The average turnaround was reduced from 229 days to 49.
“Mineral exploration and mining is booming in B.C.,” said Minster of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman in a news release.
“While meeting global demand drives a competitive industry, our government’s plan starts at home with a strategy that ensures our mining industry is well-positioned to create opportunities for British Columbians in an environmentally responsible manner.”
In 2011, more than 29,000 people were employed in mineral exploration, mining and related sectors, mostly in rural B.C.