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PEA shows 22-year life for B.C. copper-gold-moly mine

Image of the NW Expo property, part of the North Island Project, courtesy of NorthIsle Copper and Gold.

A preliminary economic assessment for a mine on Vancouver Island, British Columbia is showing promising economics – despite being in a jurisdiction challenging to build mines.

Releasing the PEA last Thursday, NorthIsle Copper and Gold (TSXV:NCX) said its proposed North Island open-pit mine could produce 75,000 tonnes per day for 22 years. It’s the first publicly released study on the Hushamu and Red Dog deposits, which were discovered in the 1960s.

The CAD$1.3 billion project on northern Vancouver Island is about 200 miles northwest of BHP’s reclaimed Island Copper mine.

If approved, it would mine 82 million pounds of copper, 79,000 ounces of gold, and 3 million pounds of molybdenum annually, according to the PEA.

“We are very pleased with the results of our maiden PEA,”NorthIsle President Jack McClintock said in the press release. “This PEA shows the Project can be built and operated with excellent returns based on conservative metal prices.”

Total indicated resources are 456.5 million tonnes at 0.2% copper, 0.25 grams per tonne gold and 0.008% molybdenum.

The former British Columbia Liberal government was pro-resource development and could point to a number of new mines opened under their 16-year period in government, including the $811-million Brucejack underground gold mine in northern B.C. However the Mount Polley disaster involving a tailings pond breach also cast doubts on the government’s oversight over mining projects.

The new NDP-Green Party coalition which forced the Liberals from power is much more reticent on mining and energy projects, having sought intervenor status in court challenges against the Canadian government’s approval of the $7.4-billion dollar Trans Mountain pipeline project; and referring the Site C dam to an independent review to see whether it should continue, be paused or completely cancelled – despite construction on the mega-project already having been set in motion by the previous Liberal government.

On Vancouver Island, the NDP and the Greens enjoyed a near-clean sweep, winning 13 out of 14 seats.