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

A Salvation Army bell is rung by Michael Cronin as he staffs the charity’s red donation kettle in front of a grocery store, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Lynden, Wash. The familiar ringing of handbells has gone silent at many Canadian shopping malls this year as the Salvation Army tries to cope with COVID-19 rules at a time of dropping donations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
Record-breaking Christmas for Vernon Salvation Army

$640K and significant food donations pour into local organization ahead of holidays

A 2002 F350 was stolen from a Whitevale home sometime overnight Jan. 14. (Contributed)
Truck stolen near Lumby overnight

Lifted Ford stolen from Whitevale Road

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

The Lavington Community Association shared this image of the final support beam installed at Jeffers Park in 2020. (Lavington Community Association - Instagram)
COVID-19 halts plans to open Lavington ice rink

Skaters won’t be able to enjoy the newly erected roof at Jeffers Park this season

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

The facility in Summerland has 112 long-term care beds. Interior Health funds 75 of the beds. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Six more months for temporary South Okanagan long-term care facility administrator

The temporary administrator was appointed following site visits and concerns from Interior Health

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media/FILE)
Vehicle found abandoned after fleeing Kelowna RCMP, avoiding spike belt

Police believed at the time vehicle was tied to alleged shooting in West Kelowna

West Kelowna RCMP are investigating reports of gunfire in the 1700-block of Ross Road. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating reports of gunfire

West Kelowna RCMP said the incident occurred on Jan. 14

Most Read