Enduring legacy reborn
It stands as a monument to our past, perched in silence on the side of a mountain overlooking the sparkling waters of Howe Sound, 48 km north of Vancouver. Once the most prolific copper producer in the British Commonwealth, its glory days are long gone. The Britannia mill today is showing her age, weathered over decades, yet her contribution as one of Canada’s greatest mineral producers is fixed in history.
The role of the Britannia mine as one of Canada’s greatest mineral producers ended in 1974, enduring two world wars and notching an impressive 70 years of production which employed 60,000 people. In 1987, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated the mill building a national historical site, recognizing its industrial heritage and architectural significance as one of North America’s only gravity-fed concentrators.
Over 30 years since the mine closed, its most enduring contribution may only now be starting.
“The Britannia Project” is an inspired vision that will transform this historic mining site into one of Canada’s pre-eminent sustainability-focused research, education and entertainment destinations.
By 2008, Britannia will be attracting an estimated 400,000 visitors, who will be transported via an articulated rail system through a unique museum experience as they learn about environmentally and socially responsible mining practices through seven core visitor attractions: visitors centre at Copper Square, mining and minerals museum and discovery centre, earth garden, innovation and sustainability centre, Main Street, outdoor adventures, and the waterfront.
More than the preservation of historical buildings and mineral practice, the project will offer visitors the chance to learn about a range of activities including the recovery of fresh water, the revitalization of aquatic and marine habitat, metal recovery by bio-remediation, safe and effective tailings handling, potential for the generation of alternate energy, carbon sequestration and the role of people in mining.
The Britannia project is not just about preserving the Britannia mill; it’s about preserving mining history; it’s about returning the Britannia site to something we can all be proud of; and it’s about sustainability and showing the rest of the world Canadian innovation in community development and the environment.
Charlene Easton is the Manager of Public Affairs and Sustainability, Britannia Development Corp. For further information on the Britannia project visit www.britanniaproject.com.