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

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.

 

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

Just Posted

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Colin Springford expressed his thanks following a birthday truck parade that was held for him on his 75th birthday on April 10, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Longtime Nanoose Bay farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

Parksville Fire Department crews attended the scene of a house fire on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at the end of Foster Place in Parksville. No injuries were reported. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Fire crews called to battle house fire in Parksville

No injuries reported, kitty rescued

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hikers among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Updated: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after stolen water taxi raced up Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000 after leading police on marine chase

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Most Read