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PERSPECTIVE: Northwest BC open for business

Since BC Hydro announced it will build the $404-million Northwest Transmission Line from Terrace, BC, to a point 340 km north, business in the area is gearing up to take advantage of the new infrastructure and develop major projects and...



Since BC Hydro announced it will build the $404-million Northwest Transmission Line from Terrace, BC, to a point 340 km north, business in the area is gearing up to take advantage of the new infrastructure and develop major projects and investment opportunities in the region.

To take advantage of these opportunities, the communities of northwest British Columbia have launched a new website, www.InvestNorthwestBC.ca. The site offers details on projects worth over $15 billion. The communities want everyone to find a reason to invest in their region.

Northwest BC is rich in mineral deposits that may become new mines sooner rather than later as the infrastructure grows in the region. Invest Northwest BC website lists a number of projects that are familiar to CMJ readers.

Capstone Mining is advancing its Kutcho Creek copper-zinc mine toward production; the PFS was completed in 2011. Early planning foresees development of an underground mine and a small start pit. The mill will have a capacity of 2,500 t/d. Pre-production capital costs are $187.3 million including contingencies. Copper output will be in the neighbourhood of 34.7 million lb/y.

Copper Fox Metals is investigating its Schaft Creek copper-gold-molybdenum project has also been the subject of a PFS. The deposit is estimated to contain more than one billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources. The feasibility study is to be completed by the end of 2011.

Fortune Minerals recently took on a partner, Posco Canada, to develop the Mount Klappan metallurgical coal mine. It could be a 3-million-t/y producer to start. With 2.8 billion tonnes of coal, the Mount Klappan is called one of the largest undeveloped such deposits in the world.

Hard Creek Nickel has hopes for its Turnagain nickel-cobalt property. A mine, 87,000-t/d nickel-cobalt flotation plant and an Outotec nickel chloride leach (ONCL) plant are possibilities. Together they would produce 35,000 tonnes of nickel metal and 2,000 tonnes of cobalt hydroxide annually. Project life would be 24 or more years.

Imperial Metals is working its Red Chris copper-gold project, and says once the production decision is made, pre-production would take only four months. Capital costs for a truck-and-shovel pit and a 30,000-t/d flotation concentrator would be approximately $320.8 million.

NovaGold and Teck Resources are working hard to find a way to make the Galore Creek gold-copper mine a reality. This is not a cheap undertaking. The recent prefeasibility study put construction costs at $5.16 billion. As now imagined, Galore Creek would be a truck-and-shovel open pit and 95,000-t/d concentrator. The project has the potential to be one of the largest, lowest cost copper producers in the world.

The PFS for Seabridge Gold‘s KSM gold-copper project is currently being updated, despite the original report of 2011 that said the project would be a profitable 52-year operation. Proven and probable reserves are 2.2 billion tonnes averaging 0.55 g/t Au and 0.21% Cu plus silver and molybdenum.

And that is just the more advanced exploration and mining projects.

Invest Northwest BC also notes the Kitimat LNG‘s liquefied natural gas terminal, Rio Tinto’s expansion of its aluminum smelter, a new bulk potash terminal and wood pellet export facility in Prince Rupert. Add to that several hydroelectric projects, industrial park developments and port upgrades. British Columbia is going to be a hotbed of investment as soon as the Northwest Transmission Line brings a reliable, clean source of electricity within reach of these developments.