The ore processing mill at the Red Chris copper and gold mine located south of Iskut and east of Hwy37 North. (File photo)

The ore processing mill at the Red Chris copper and gold mine located south of Iskut and east of Hwy37 North. (File photo)

Aussies buy majority stake in Red Chris mine

Company looks forward to relationship with Tahltan Nation

An Australia-based gold mining company is making a first-ever appearance in North America thanks to its purchase of 70 per cent of the Red Chris copper and gold mine north of here from Imperial Metals.

Valued at US $806.5 million, the Newcrest Mining Ltd. purchase is to close later this year with the company becoming the mine’s operator. Imperial will retain 30 per cent of the mine.

Located just east of Hwy 37 North and south of Iskut, Red Chris construction was completed in late 2014 and commercial operations began the next year.

The mine is also one of the beneficiaries of the provincial power grid thanks to a line branching off of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.

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Red Chris has become a regional employer and thanks to a 2015 deal with the Tahltan Central Government, provides economic and other benefits to Tahltan members.

“Newcrest has already reached out to the Tahltan Central Government and we have begun talks with the company on building a fruitful partnership,” said Tahltan Central Government president Chad Norman Day.

“They have assured us that they are excited to acquire their first Canadian project and will begin working closely with the Tahltan Nation.”

“Our impact benefit agreement with Imperial Metals will be inherited by Newcrest and the company is committed to the ongoing implementation of this important agreement with the Tahltan people,” Day said.

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In announcing the purchase, Newcrest officials said the company’s expertise in an underground mining technique called “block caving” will fit with the ore body at Red Chris.

Money from the purchase will help Imperial Metals pay down debt. Its share value rose as a result of the purchase.

Newcrest, by market value, is rated as the world’s third-largest gold producer.

Imperial has two other mining properties — the now-shuttered Huckleberry mine at Houston and the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in the Cariboo.

The latter’s tailings pond breached in 2014, resulting in a flood of waste surging into nearby rivers and lakes and triggering a lengthy investigation.

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