Imperial Metals new copper and gold mine ready to begin production

Imperial Metals new copper and gold mine ready to begin production

Red Chris copper and gold project site.

Canadian Imperial Metals (TSX:III), the company that drew international attention due to a massive spill of mine waste in British Columbia early this month, said it is ready to begin operations at its Red Chris copper and gold mine in the province once a power line is completed in September.

Announcing an agreement with the local First Nations’ representatives, the Tahltan Central Council (TCC), the miner said Tuesday a third-party will be in charge of reviewing the tailings impoundment at the new mine to make sure it meets world-class standards in terms of design, engineering, operation and construction.

That third-party will be chosen by the TCC, the firm added.

Red Chris, in northwest B.C., is located near the Iskut River, a major tributary of the Stikine River, which ends in southeast Alaska and it is considered one of the largest salmon habitats in the Tongass National Forest. This has triggered rising anxiety among the mine’s neighbours, locally and across the border.

“In Southeast Alaska, we will absorb nothing but risk,” Brian Lynch of the Petersburg Vessel Owner’s Association told JuneauEmpire.com. “A breach like [Mount Polley’s] would be a disaster (…) These systems produce a lot of salmon for our billion-dollar-a-year industry.”

“Sooner or later [the tailings dams] are going to fail,” Guy Archibald, mining and clean water coordinator at the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, was quoted as saying. “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’”

According to Imperial Metals’ website, the mine will process almost 30,000 tons of ore per day for 28 years. And after the Mount Polley disaster locals are saying a similar breach would ruin both the environment and the state’s economy.

Image courtesy of Imperial Metals