TTM Resources Inc. has laid out a timeline to develop a $1-billion molybdenum mine in B.C.’s Northern Interior: Hoping for a construction start in 2012.
However, that will depend on a regulatory review process – expected to involve both the B.C. and federal governments – that can last two to three years.
The company is in the midst of the preliminary phase of the environmental review process, which involves carrying out baseline studies on water quality, fisheries, wildlife and archeology on the proposed project, 150 kilometres southwest of Prince George. The studies will form part of its environmental application that can run to thousands of pages.
TTM Resources senior official Warren Robb told a small audience Wednesday evening in Prince George the company hopes to complete technical studies in the next 13 to 14 months. The idea is to get an application in front of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office so the defined 180-page provincial review can start in the spring of 2011, he said.
The federal and provincial government have been trying to harmonize their processes, and the Chu molybdenum project has also been added to Ottawa’s major projects management office which also puts timelines on the review process. Whether the Chu project will trigger a federal review has not been determined yet, but it likely will because of impacts to fisheries habitat. A federal review process would be expected to take 18 to 21 months.
Robb said if the company receives its approvals and permits by the end of 2011, construction could start in 2012.
The company also hopes to co-ordinate the completion of a more-detailed business case to dovetail with the completion of the environmental review. Preliminary work estimates the mine’s capital costs at $727 million to $1.043 billion with a workforce somewhere between 350 to 400. The mine life is pegged at 31 years.
The mine plan includes the construction of a 106-kilometre power line along the Kluskus-Ootsa Forest Service Road, which also provides access to the mine.
Mine waste is planned to be stored in a tailings pond (a man-made lake) to prevent acid drainage.
Molybdenum is already mined in the region, at Endako’s long-lived mine near Fraser Lake, just west of Vanderhoof.
Molybdenum is used in the manufacture of aircraft parts, electrical contacts, industrial motor and filaments, because of its ability to withstand extreme temperatures without significantly expanding or softening. Molybdenum is also used in alloys for its high corrosion resistance and the ease of welding it.
TTM Resources has also begun to establish relationships with First Nations in the region, considered a critical element to establishing a mine in northern B.C. where virtually all aboriginal land and other rights have not been resolved.
There are five First Nations in the area with interests: Skin Tyee, Saik’uz, Nazko, Kluskus and Ulkatcho.
Company officials have been keeping in direct contact with the First Nations over exploration permits, the mine proposal, and also trying to include First Nations in any employment opportunities, said Warren.
He said he believed they had been “moderately successful” in building relationships with the First Nations.
TTM Resource’s Chu molybdenum project is one of three proposed mineral mines in B.C.’s Northern Interior working through the regulatory process.
Terrane Metal’s Mount Milligan gold and copper project is the furthest along the review process. The B.C. government granted the project environmental approval in March of this year following an environmental assessment that took two-and-a-half years. With a final federal decision still in the future, the combined review process is now at the three-year mark and counting.
Pacific Booker Metals Inc. recently filed its B.C. environmental assessment application for its proposed $516-million Morrison copper-gold mine.
The Mount Milligan project is 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George, while the Morrison project is 325 kilometres west of Prince George.
The proposed mining projects are considered important by forest-based communities which are looking for economic diversification in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic in north-central B.C.
The epidemic is expected to decrease the annual timber harvest and with it forestry jobs.
Source: prince george citizen