mining and Mineral Exploration Industry
website: raymond mill
Although British Columbia experienced a slow start to the mining and exploration industry in 2009 (due to the world slowdown resulting from tight financial markets), a late season surge in drilling occurred as investor optimism rose in late summer and money became available. Some of the highlights from our own Northwest region show excellent potential for the 2010 season.
Estimated spending on major and small mine development projects was $47 million. Mineral exploration expenditures reached $65 million. There were 17 exploration projects that exceeded $500,000. Exploration drilling totaled about 144,000 metres at 30 drilling programs.
Galore Creek, Red Chris, KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) and Kitsault lead a group of exciting mine development projects.
Galore Creek copper-gold proposed mine is on hold pending redesign of the project although construction of the access road continued throughout the year.
Exploration at Red Chris, which also holds a development certificate for an open pit mine, continued for a deep copper-gold deposit.
KSM gold-copper and Kitsault molybdenum projects conducted engineering, environmental and archeological field studies. The KSM project is one of the five largest undeveloped gold resources in the world. It will be reviewed under the BC and Canadian environmental assessment processes.
Aggregate resources (measured, indicated and inferred) at the adjoining KSM and Snowfield projects total 4.37 billion tonnes containing 85 million ounces of gold.
And yes, even if you are not familiar with the terminology, that is as big as it sounds!
Kitsault molybdenum mine operated previously and may proceed under an amendment to its current Mine Permit.
Three small gold projects progressed towards commercial operation.
Yellowjacket project near Atlin received a Small Mines Act permit.
Cassiar Gold project began underground development at the Table Mountain mine and surface mining of a bulk sample at the nearby Taurus mine. Work at the two sites was halted in November.
Near Smithers, the new owner of the closed Dome Mountain mine refurbished the underground workings and applied for a Small Mines Act permit to mine the remaining gold resource for off-site milling.
The Endako molybdenum mine spent about $39 million last year, reactivating a major expansion and modernization program. This was the only major mine development project active in the region. Huckleberry copper-molybdenum mine, south of Houston, announced a two-year extension of operations, until 2012. Fireside barite, a small seasonal quarry in the far north, continued operation.
In a landmark move, the governments of British Columbia and Canada agreed to share the cost to build the Northwest Transmission line , an extension of the 287 kilovolt power grid to Bob Quinn that could service new mines in the region, such as Galore Creek. This is also encouraging news for exploration projects in the northwest of our province. The proposal is currently undergoing the environmental assessment phase and holding public meetings throughout our region.
During 2009, copper, silver and zinc gradually recovered much of the value they lost late the preceding year and gold, which had not declined, climbed to a record high price. The price of molybdenum improved only a modest amount after it fell more than any other metal. Thus far, the outlook for 2010 is moderately positive and the early spring here in Smithers has everyone anxious to start exploring.