The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)

B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

A push to decarbonize the world’s economy, continued rapid development in Asia and a recovery from COVID-19 are green shoots of growth for mining, participants in the annual B.C. Natural Resources Forum say.

Executives for working mines and those in development agreed that while B.C.’s advantages include abundant hydro power, world-leading relations with Indigenous people and a skilled workforce, the investment climate needs improvement with more speed and certainty in securing permits to build.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, prices dropped into the tank, and now they’re starting to rise,” said Michael Goehring, CEO of the B.C. Mining Association, host of a mining discussion at the forum Jan. 26. And as the economy retools for a low-carbon future, “mining as an industry is being viewed as a solution.”

Speakers included Gil Clausen, CEO of Copper Mountain mine near Princeton; Jacques Perron, CEO of Pretivm Resources, operator of Brucejack, a gold mine north of Stewart in northeast B.C.; and Brian Sullivan, CEO of Conuma Resources, which restarted the Wolverine coal mine near Tumbler Ridge. Representing mines in development was Kelly Earle, a vice-president for Skeena Resources, which is working to restart the Eskay Creek gold and silver mine in northwest B.C., and Steven Dean of Artemis Gold, which is developing the Blackwater mine south of Vanderhoof.

Skeena bought Eskay Creek from Barrick Gold in 2018, and is converting it from an underground mine to open-pit with power from a nearby run-of-river hydro plant. Earle said the company spent $55 million on the mine last year, nearly half of it with companies in the Tahltan Nation, which has multiple mine partnerships. B.C. is “the birthplace of the impact benefit agreement” with Indigenous partners, but the province’s timeline of four to five years for a project that has already operated is “unacceptable” for the kind of investment needed to get it operating, she said.

Goehring noted that Premier John Horgan spoke to the recent Association of Mineral Exploration conference in Vancouver about a government-industry group working on the permit issue, which all speakers saw as important to making B.C. competitive enough to maintain and expand mining.

Dean said Blackwater would be the first new gold mine in B.C. in many years, with a target for starting production in the second quarter of 2022. It will provide 825 direct jobs in the construction phase and 450 once it is operating, an important lift for the central B.C. economy that has seen a decline in the forest industry.

B.C. has a reputation for slow and uncertain approvals, but “to the provincial government’s credit, that reputation is changing,” he said.

RELATED: Copper Mountain has expansion plans for 2021

RELATED: Skeena Resources buys Eskay Creek gold mine

Clausen said Copper Mountain provides 500 well-paying jobs and is working on a transition to electric trolley haul trucks to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In partnership with the Upper Similkameen First Nation, it began a mine reclamation project in 2018 using biosolids from Metro Vancouver to restore broken rock areas from mining, and that is being scaled up, he said.

Clausen said the company adapted to COVID-19 to protect the nearby community, and provided money to its employees to help support local restaurants and other businesses under stress from the pandemic.

Sullivan said Conuma employs 950 people, many of whom make more than $100,000 a year, and supports the economies of Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd. Production of metallurgical coal is vital to the rapid growth of Asia, and the company is in the B.C. environmental assessment process to open a new pit to provide an additional 10 years of shipments through Prince Rupert and Tsawwassen coal terminals.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturemining

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 80+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Real estate has been moving very briskly in Kimberley since last summer. Bulletin file
Hot Kimberley real estate market leads to tightened inventory

Real estate sales in the entire Kootenay region have been brisk for… Continue reading

This week the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association’s  Domino’s Pizza Junior Players of the Week were Mia Molnar and Isabella Savage  (pictured above with Coach Rob Niedermayer ),
Keysa Players of the Week and team standings

This week the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association’s Domino’s Pizza Junior Players… Continue reading

At left: Team Canada pitcher and former Bandit Alli Schroder has signed with the Vancouver Island Mariners. At right: Bandits first baseman Brett Potter has signed with the University of Calgary Dinos. Photos courtesy Cranbrook Bandits.
Two more Bandits heading to next level of baseball

Alli Schroder joining VIU Mariners— the first female to sign with the CCBC; Brett Potter joining U of C Dinos

College of the Rockies’ Facilities Director, Allan Knibbs (left) showcases the College’s new composter alongside instructor and Sustainability Committee Chair Greg McCallum and Kaylyn Gervais, Columbia Basin Trust Manager of Community Relationships. (COTR file)
COTR aims to reduce food waste with composting program

The college will soon begin composting food waste on campus

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Gas prices jumped in Golden to 131.9c this week, a trend that's supposed to continue into the summer. (Claire Palmer/Golden Star)
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Clovechok concerned as gas prices continue to rise

Fuel prices are supposed to skyrocket this summer as British Columbians await BCUC analysis

The area shaded in yellow was purchased last year by the Regional District of Central Kootenay. The purple area is the current purchase. Map: Submitted
Cottonwood Lake fundraiser reaches goal

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read