Gibraltar Mine in the B.C. Interior has announced layoffs as a result of the decline in the price of copper.

Rocky year ahead for B.C. mining

Province extends certificates for disputed New Prosperity, Tulsequah Chief mines as others struggle to keep operating

B.C.’s mining industry heads into 2015 with slumping commodity prices, closures and layoffs at coal operations and efforts to continue recovery from B.C.’s worst mine-related structural failure.

Imperial Metals applied last week to restart the Mount Polley copper-gold mine near Williams Lake, to produce about half the ore it did before its tailings dam abruptly failed in August 2014. The company’s Red Chris copper-gold mine in northwestern B.C. is up and running, but facing a six-year low in the world price of copper.

Coal mines in the Kootenays, a mainstay of the B.C. industry, remain in production, but slower growth in Asia and a low metallurgical coal price forced Anglo American Coal and Walter Energy to shut down mines at the northeast coal hub of Tumbler Ridge last fall.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett heads for the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. conference in Vancouver Jan. 26-29. He said in an interview last week the price of copper has dipped to a level where there is concern about layoffs at metal mines, but the current “bear market” is less of a concern for mineral exploration, with mineral discoveries taking years to develop.

Taseko Mines confirmed Monday it is reducing its workforce at the Gibraltar Mine near Williams Lake by nearly 50 positions due to the price of copper.

Premier Christy Clark’s jobs plan set a target of eight new mines and nine expansions by  the end of 2015. Since 2011, startups include Copper Mountain near Princeton, New Afton near Kamloops, Mount Milligan west of Prince George, Bonanza Ledge near Quesnel and Yellow Giant on Banks Island near Prince Rupert.

Last week Environment Minister Mary Polak issued two five-year mine certificate extensions to keep alive projects facing opposition from local aboriginal communities.

One was for the Tulsequah Chief mine project near Atlin, determined to have been “substantially started” with site work after a long legal battle with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

The other extension is for the Taseko’s New Prosperity copper-gold project near Williams Lake, which has twice been rejected by the federal government due to environmental concerns over acid rock contamination. The Tsilhqot’in Nation remains adamantly opposed to the open-pit proposal.

Bennett said both companies and the government need to continue talks about revenue sharing and impacts with affected aboriginal communities as they apply for operating permits.

“An important part of that process under the Mines Act is for them to engage with First Nations, and an important part for the Crown is to consult and accommodate, so there’s lots of work to do,” Bennett said.

 

Just Posted

MP Cannings’ long-awaited wood-use bill passes in House vote

The private member’s bill is his first to pass the House, a rare feat for rookie MPs in opposition

Flood 2018: What comes next

Most evacuation orders have been rescinded, and residents are starting to return home

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Second commercial acid spill in Kootenay city

Station 374 Trail was called to a Hazmat scene Wednesday night on Highway 3B

Kootenay village pot survey reveals a mixed bag

The majority of Warfield respondents were for cannabis sales, but with dispensary restrictions

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Most Read