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

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read