Copper consolidation: How merging several operations in British Columbia’s Highland Valley created Canada’s largest copper mine – by Ailbhe Goodbody (CIM Magazine – July 02, 2024)

Copper was first discovered in British Columbia’s Highland Valley porphyry copper district in 1899, but production did not start until Bethlehem Copper Corporation’s property began operations in 1962.

Several other large-tonnage, low-grade copper operations were developed in the area, including Lornex Mining Corporation’s Lornex mine (controlled by Rio Algom) in 1972 and Highmont Mining and Teck’s Highmont mine in 1980.

Cominco-controlled Valley Copper Mines discovered another massive porphyry copper deposit, but rapidly escalating capital and operating costs in the 1970s, followed by depressed copper prices, frustrated its attempts to create a development plan. The ore body was also divided by a claim boundary—80 per cent on Valley Copper claims and 20 per cent on Bethlehem Copper claims.

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