Many multinationals are looking at B.C. as a place to invest,” says AME chair McLeod

Mineral exploration and development in B.C. is starting to show a definite spring in its step, with foreign majors indicating renewed interest in the province.

For example, in summer 2018 Newmont Goldcorp acquired a 50 per cent interest in the Galore Creek Mining Company from NovaGold Resources Inc.

Newmont Goldcorp is an American mining company with producing gold mines in Nevada, Australia, Ghana, Peru and Suriname. In recent years it has built nine new mines and expansions on four continents that were on or ahead of schedule and at or below budget.

The deal makes Newmont Goldcorp a partner of Teck Resources Limited on the Galore Creek project in northwestern B.C.

There’s more good news, too.

In August 2019, Newcrest Mining Limited completed a 70 per cent acquisition of the Red Chris copper-gold mine in northwestern B.C. from Imperial Metals Corporation. An Australian company, Newcrest explores, develops, mines and sells gold and gold-copper concentrate.

Rob McLeod, chair of AME, says the Newmont Goldcorp and Newcrest acquisitions are “absolutely good” for B.C. “The amount of capital involved is significant, and a testament to the companies’ confidence in B.C.,” says McLeod.

He says 2019 has seen a recent trend that is good news for mineral exploration and development projects throughout B.C. “Many multinationals are looking at B.C. as a place to invest, so there’s good reason to be optimistic,” McLeod says.

Kendra Johnston, AME president and CEO, says B.C. mineral exploration is well positioned to succeed. “Many companies here are doing great things,” she says. “At the same time, there’s a perception with some investors that the industry here is unduly hampered by challenges with regulations, policy and permitting.”

Red Chris pit

In fact, she says, the provincial government is very much in tune with the industry’s economic, social and environmental responsibilities. “Government is committed to doing the right thing,” says Johnston. “It’s working with AME, through such organizations as the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance, to build up B.C.’s brand.”

Galore Creek is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold-silver projects. “Galore Creek holds the potential to support decades of profitable copper and gold production in a favourable mining jurisdiction, in line with our strategy to create long-term value for our stakeholders,” said Gary Goldberg, Newmont Goldcorp’s thenpresident and CEO, in announcing the deal. “Partnering with Teck allows us to bring both organizations’ considerable technical, financial and sustainability strengths to bear in evaluating and refining development plans for Galore Creek, and to build on the strong relationships Teck has established with the Tahltan First Nation and British Columbia.”

Red Chris is a copper-gold porphyry mine with an operating open-pit mine and mineral resources of 20 million ounces gold and 13 billion pounds copper. Newcrest says the Red Chris acquisition is a measured entry into North America and aligns with the company’s goal of building a global portfolio of Tier 1 ore bodies.

“Red Chris has the potential to become a Tier 1 ore body through Newcrest’s advanced block caving skills,” the company says. It believes it will be able to unlock “significant value” from the deposit by applying what it calls its unique technical expertise in block caving, operations optimization and selective processing.

“Newcrest and the Tahltan Nation have established an excellent relationship thus far, based on mutual respect,” says Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. “The Tahltan Nation welcomes Newcrest into our territory and looks forward to a lasting, meaningful and fruitful partnership.”

Red Chris and the Tahltan Nation have signed an updated Impact, Benefit and Co-Management Agreement (IBCA). The IBCA provides the basis for a life-of-mine partnership covering royalties, education, training, employment and contracting opportunities, capacity support and provisions for communication and interaction on social and environmental matters.

Michelle Mungall, the provincial government’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, says mining in B.C. is strong, with growing revenues, robust employment and significant recent exploration investment led by global mining companies.

“Investors appreciate that we are a safe and attractive place to do business because of our strong, sustainable and predictable regulatory system, world-class geology and commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” says Mungall. “We are taking proactive action to support the mining sector and ensure B.C. is a good place to invest and do business.”