The Prosperity deposit is a gold-copper porphyry with a 1.0 billion tonne measured and indicated resource containing 5.3 billion pounds of copper and 13.3 million ounces of gold. At today's metal prices (US$1,000/ounce gold and US$3.15/pound copper) the project has a pre-tax net present value of C$3 billion and a 40% pre-tax internal rate of return.
TORONTO — Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says that improvements to Canada’s endless regulatory approval process for new mines are “achievable” under the government’s current mandate.
Speaking to reporters after a presentation at the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday, Mr. Oliver expressed confidence that he can eliminate duplication in federal and provincial reviews of projects, but warned that it will be an extremely difficult process.
“We have to work with the provinces, so we can agree on a case-by-case basis whether it makes sense for one or the other to take over the review, or if there’s some way we can work together to avoid duplication,” he said. One of the biggest frustrations for mining companies in Canada is that project approvals can be delayed for months because the federal and provincial governments are out of sync and are doing the same tasks. The lowest point came last November, when Ottawa rejected Taseko Mines Ltd.’s Prosperity mine over environmental concerns, even though it was previously approved by British Columbia.
Mr. Oliver said he is concerned that approvals can take so long to get that they can undermine the economics of the project.
But at the same time, he maintained that improvements have been made, specifically for smaller and medium-size projects.
The industry agrees. Pierre Gratton, president and chief executive of the Mining Association of Canada, said that a key change came last year, when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) was given greater authority over the federal environmental assessment process. Until then, mining companies had to “pound the doors” in Ottawa in order to get the process started.
“The biggest problem and source of frustration for years was that no one was in charge,” he said.
Mr. Oliver also addressed a number of other topics, including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal. He maintained that he is “not alarmed” by the vocal opposition to the project, and expects it will go ahead. Keystone would deliver an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to refineries in Texas.
“I think some people sense it’s about to be approved, and hence the intensification of their [opposition]. But how broadly representative they are of the U.S. population I don’t know, and rather doubt,” he said.
Mr. Oliver also spent time promoting the oil sands, but chose not to respond to questions about growing Chinese investment in Alberta’s oil patch. That issue moved back to the forefront this week after Chinese state-owned giant Sinopec made a $2.2-billion friendly offer for Daylight Energy Ltd.