Purpose and Location
The purpose of the Galore Creek Mine project is to develop a copper-gold-silver mine in the northwestern part of British Columbia, Canada. The mining site is located 70km west of highway 37, and 150km northwest of Stewart, B.C.
The original timeline for the project consited of consulting the First Nations involved in february of 2004, before the project construction began.
The EA for the project was completed in with approval from the B.C. government in february of 2007.
In mid 2007 they got their construction permits and began to build the access road and slurry pipeline.
The plan was to have construction completed in 2012 and to start production of the mine. However. There was dissention among the ranks, after reviewing the EA guidelines, project engineers found that the cost had raised from original estimates and the project was halted, with some construction already underway.
•Feb. 2004 – EA process initiated •
Feb. 2006 – Tahltan Participation Agreement signed •
Feb 2007 – Provincial EA certificate approval •
Q2 2007 – Federal approval of construction permits
•Q2 2007 – Phase1 construction begins (roads, etc..)
•Nov. 2007 – 80% of road land cleared, bridges and access tunnel initiated •
Nov. 2007 – Project halted, stock plummets •J
an. 2008 – New management proposes operational in 18 months (to be seen…) •July 2010 – Production?
The Proponent proposes to mine using conventional truck and shovel mining methods and crushing/grinding/flotation processes to extract copper and precious metals to produce a bulk concentrate for shipment to an off-site smelter. A slurry pipeline will transport copper concentrate to a filter plant near Highway 37 where it will be de-watered for transport by truck to Stewart.
The mill will consist of the following unit operations: ore storage; primary crushing; two-stage grinding; copper flotation; rougher concentrate regrinding; concentrate thickening and pumping; tailings thickening and pumping; and water reclaim.
Trucks will deliver ore from the open pits to either an ore stockpile or the primary crusher. Trucks will fitted with water sprays and other measures to minimize dust
Crushed ore will be conveyed to a stockpile with a 32,000 tonne capacity
From there, it will enter the grinding circuit, where it will be pulverized to an even finer texture
Ground ore will be further refined to a concentrate using conventional flotation processes where air bubbles pumped through a slurry of water, ground ore and reagents cause the valuable minerals to float to the surface
With 4 open pits total, they projected an extraction of 65 000 tonnes of ore per day, with an annual extraction of 100 000 ounces of gold.
There is a proposed estimate of 1 016 million tonnes of waste rock to be generated from the mining process, i.e.: blasting, extracting overburden. This waste rock will be used in the construction of a dam, and the rest will be dumped in a designated dump site in the Galore creek valley.
Our recommendation would be to construct an underground mine, which would generate less waste rock than an open pit mine. However, the determination of mining method to be used on the Galore Creek Project came as a result of scrutiny of both open pit and underground approaches. It was deemed that although underground mining would produce less waste rock, the higher cost did not make it a viable choice; the preferred method was determined to be open pit.
We think that despite the cost benefit of the open pit mine, the generation of less waste rock would be beneficial for the environment where they would dump the unused portion of the rock. This method would also leave the soil profile undisturbed above the ore bodies, and the mine would only require a road and tunnel access rather than extraction of soil and regolith to reach the ore.
• Current metal prices $USD
– Gold - $900~$920 per troy ounce
– Silver - $17.34 per ounce
– Copper - $3.85 per lb.
• NovaGold projected a gold price of US$325/oz for the initial production phase of the mine.
Politics and Controversy
The gated road proposed by NovaGold would be a controlled-access corridor open only to mine vehicles bearing special use permits from the province. But due to the location of the Galore Creek mine, the road would inevitably lead from Hwy. 37 to the Alaska coast, along a highway route akin to one that Alaskan politicians have spent 20 years trying to develop.
Galore Creek is NovaGold's southern most mining facility, the rest are all in Alaskan territory. Given that permitting those Alaskan projects is crucial to the fast-growing company's success, it's reasonable to assume that NovaGold has some degree of contact with Alaskan political leaders who also back the Bradfield road, the road which is proposed to lead from Alaska through the Galore Creek valley, and to Highway 37 in B.C.
It has been speculated by many people, most of which are on private forums, that NovaGold has had dealings with the Alaskan government, and that the development of this mine is more geared towards completion of a road, in this case the Bradfield road, leading from the major B.C. highway into the land locked Alaska. The mine may hold the backseat of this larger ideal, but there is no public statement leading to this conclusion, it remains political rumor only. But it would help explain why the halted construction of the mine was announced when the road was near completion, blaming rising costs when the price of gold is near triple what they estimated it's worth.
WRITTEN BY: JASON ROBERTS
Last updated: April 18th, 2008
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