B.C. mines get financial boost, one to open soon – by Ed Schoenfeld (CoastAlaska News – July 17, 2014)


Canadian investors are putting millions of new dollars into mining projects near the Southeast Alaska border. They include the KSM and Tulsequah Chief prospects, which critics say could damage regional fisheries.

KSM is a multi-metal deposit about 150 miles northeast of Ketchikan. It’s near rivers or their tributaries that drain into the ocean northeast of Ketchikan and just south of the Alaska-B.C. border.

A group of Canadian financial firms are in the process of purchasing a million shares of Seabridge Gold, KSM’s parent company. They have an option to buy more, with the total new investment between $13 million and $15 million.

That’s not a lot for a large mine. So Seabridge, headquartered in Toronto, is negotiating to find much larger investors.

“We continue to seek partners and we have confidentiality agreements with several,” says Brent Murphy, vice president of environmental affairs for Seabridge Gold. Exploration continues at the KSM project, sometimes compared Western Alaska’s Pebble Prospect.

In an interview at a Vancouver, British Columbia, office, Murphy said the company has drilling rigs on site right now.Officials say the more-than-$5-billion project could be built and ready for operations by the end of the decade.

“We currently have about 35 to 40 people in camp and the drilling program will continue until the end of September,” he says.

Seabridge has numerous regulatory steps to complete. But officials say the more-than-$5-billion project could be built and ready for operations within five or six years.

Another near-border project is within a few months of completion.

The Red Chris Mine is already stockpiling copper and gold ore. The project, about 125 miles east of Juneau, is completing its onsite buildings, mill and tailings-storage system. It’s near the upper watershed of the Stikine River, which empties into the ocean near Petersburg and Wrangell.

Officials at its owner, Vancouver-based Imperial Metals, did not respond to repeated interview requests. But Imperial’s website says the $530 million project is expected to open within a few months.

Like most other near-border mines, development is being helped along by a transmission line to new hydroprojects in the province’s northwest.

“The ability to hook up to power is a very important part of development or any considerations for investment,” says Karina Brino, president of the Mining Association of British Columbia.

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