TERRACE, B.C. _ Mines Minister Bill Bennet hopes a new offer will end a First Nations blockade of a northwestern B.C. mine owned by the same company involved in a tailings pond breach in the Cariboo.
Bennet met with protesters from the Tahltan First Nation Wednesday to discuss the week-old blockade at Imperial Metals Corp. (TSX: T.III, Stock Forum) nearly-completed Red Chris Mine, 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake.
The news came as Imperial said it has secured $100 million of additional debt to finance the commissioning at Red Chris and cover clean up costs at the company's Mount Polley operation near Likely, B.C. that spilled millions of litres of water and mining sludge last week.
The minister believes many of the protesters, known as the Klabona Keepers, are satisfied with a proposal that would give the First Nation complete control of an independent engineering review of the tailings pond under construction at the huge copper and gold mine.
The minister says Imperial Metals will pay for the review, but the Tahltan would have complete control over the firm selected for the probe, and the province would ensure the tailings pond isn't used until it's complete.
The Klabona Keepers set up the blockade at the Red Chris Mine in response to last Monday's collapse of the tailings pond at Mount Polley.
The Tahltan Central Council has said it does not endorse the blockade but is listening to the group's concerns, and council president Chad Day notes the Mount Polley spill raises ``new questions and concerns'' that Imperial Metals must address.
The tailings dam breach at the Mount Polley mine has resulted in a loss of production from the mine from an indeterminate period of time, Imperial Metals said in a press release.
Meanwhile, the company posted a net profit of $15.2 million or 20 cents a share in the second quarter of 2014, up from $7.5 million or 10 cents a year earlier.
In the same period, revenue in the quarter was $51.1 million, down from $41.3 million.
Mount Polley produced 12 million pounds of copper, 11,867 ounces of gold and 33,813 ounces of silver in the second quarter.
On Friday, Imperial shares jumped 16.3% to $10.15, leaving a market cap of $760.8 million, based on 75 million shares outstanding. The 52-week range is $18.63 and $8.65.