In spite of financial challenges in the junior sector, the future looks bright for British Columbia’s mining industry, B.C. Mines Minister Bill Bennett said Tuesday.
"There are currently about 20 major projects that are working their way through the environmental assessment pipeline,'' Bennett said during a luncheon speech to 400 delegates at the AME B.C. Roundup Resource conference in Vancouver.
Some will benefit from a new transmission line, that is designed to bring electricity to northwestern British Columbia, where Imperial Metals Corp.
, Stock Forum
) is commissioning its “phenomenally exciting” Red Chris copper/gold mine, Bennett said.
The lineup of new projects includes Pretium Resources Inc.’s
, Stock Forum
) high grade Brucejack project, which hosts a 43-101-compliant, measured and indicated resource of 8.7 million ounces gold in the Valley of Kings area.
“Pretium has shown that B.C. still has the potential for world class deposits,’’ Bennett said.
Pretium chief executive Bob Quartermain said the next step for Brucejack is the production of an updated feasibility study that will take into consideration the recent decline in the price of gold.
He said a new more conservative study will be based on a gold price of US$1,100 per ounce, down from the previous US$1,350 per ounce.
During his keynote speech to the Roundup conference, Quartermain said the project benefits from a relatively small environmental footprint and good relations between the company and local First Nations.
During a brief interview with Stockhouse, Quartermain said he hopes the project will be in production after 2016.
For his part, Bennett said that in his view, the only blot on the horizon is the financial challenges that are facing the junior mining sector. “I realize that it is difficult for juniors to raise money,’’ he said.
However, he said the province is working to improve both the permitting and environmental assessment process.