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Public comment starts for Highland Valley Copper mine expansion

Canada's largest copper mine due to close in 2028 unless it expands
Teck Resources wants to expand operations at the Highland Valley Copper Mine to extend the mine's life by 18 years.

A proposal to extend the Highland Valley Copper mine by 18 years will be the subject of two open houses and an online public comment, starting Monday.

The copper-molybdenum mine near Logan Lake south of Ashcroft is owned by Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B,NYSE:TECK). It is Canada’s largest copper mine, producing one per cent of the world's copper concentrate and 1.5 per cent of the world’s  molybdenum.  

The mine is due for closure by 2028. Teck is hoping to extend the mine life by 18 years with an expansion.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) will throw the proposal open to public comment with online submissions from October 23 to November 22. 

It will also hold two open houses: November 8, at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Merritt and November 9 at the Logan Lake District Firehall (120 Chartrand Avenue).

Teck estimates the mine extension would produce approximately 4.3 billion pounds of copper through the mining of 900 million tonnes of additional ore.

The expansion involves extending the mining of two existing open pits – Highmont and Valley – and would require extending tailings storage, increased water use, relocation of a landfill and realignment of roads and transmission lines.

Teck says the expansion will employ 500 workers on average during the expansion construction phase, peaking at 1,250. The expansion would generate an additional 200 jobs at the mine, bringing the mine’s total workforce to 1,520 workers.

In 2019, 88 per cent of the mine’s workforce came from Kamloops,  13 per cent from Merritt and 12 per cent from Logan Lake and four per cent from Ashcroft, the company says.

Annually, the mine provides $185 million in wages and benefits, spends $137 million on local goods and services, and pays $75 million in municipal and provincial taxes, the company says in its project description.