Mining boomtown just down the road

  • Feb. 21, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Kamloops This Week

With the forestry sector still struggling to recover from a disastrous decade, the mining industry is poised to be the industry of choice in the Kamloops area for years to come. The soaring prices of commodities like copper and gold have ensured the future of two major mines in the area.

Teck Resources recently announced plans to extend the life of its Highland Valley copper mine near Logan Lake for six more years. The extension means the mine will be operating until 2025.

Mark Freberg, superintendent of environment and community affairs with Highland Valley Copper, noted the extension does depend on copper prices remaining strong.

“We have enough confidence that’s going to happen to move forward,” he said, adding the mine will operate at full capacity for the additional six years.

Part of the extension includes increasing the size of one of the mine’s open pits.

Word of the extension is likely good economic news for the region. The mine employs 1,200 people, many who live in Kamloops and support the community.

“It’s a big impact on all the communities that surround us,” Freberg said.

Highland Valley is also waiting for approvals for two amendments to its mine permits for infrastructure projects that will also help extend the life of the mine. The review process for both applications is underway.

Even closer to Kamloops is New Gold’s New Afton mine, 10 kilometres west of the city.

The Vancouver-based mining company plans to spend $290 million in 2011 on the mine.

According to a New Gold report, the focus in 2011 for the mine will be surface construction, with more than 50 per cent of the total spending allocated to the area. The company intends to begin production at New Afton by mid-2012.

The mine is expected to produce an annual average of 85,000 ounces of gold and 75,000 million pounds of copper.

Last year, the provincial government signed a mining revenue-sharing agreement with Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn Indian bands that will give the two bands 37.5 per cent of the mineral-tax revenue collected from the New Afton mine.