Commitment by the B.C. Liberal government to extend power resources to a proposed north valley mine was welcomed Friday by promoters and the community of Clearwater.
Speaking Friday at Union of B.C. Municipalities, Premier Christy Clark committed to supplying BC Hydro power to the Yellowhead Mining copper property overlooking the Yellowhead Highway near Vavenby.
“We believe in companies like Yellowhead Mining in the North Thompson, and that's why we're working with Hydro to connect them to the power that they need,” Clark said, referring to efforts to boost B.C.’s economy.
Yellowhead Mining Inc. CEO Ian Smith said the project has the support of the valley. Commitment of power is a critical need.
The proposed copper mine needs about 90 megawatts of power and there is little excess in the North Thompson.
“We’re in discussions with BC Hydro now with a connection date. We believe a connection date late in 2015 is realistic.”
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and environment minister Terry Lake said the company must obtain environmental and other approvals.
The project entered the harmonized federal-provincial environmental assessment about the same time as the proposed Ajax mine in Kamloops.
But it has faced almost none of the criticism or public scrutiny. It is expected to employ more than 400 people for a 24-year mine life.
Extension of power to the North Thompson has been estimated in the order of $100 million.
“We put up security. We’ll enter into a contract,” Smith said. “Our annual power bill will be in the order of $25 million. We’ll enter into a supply agreement — take or pay. If we don’t take, we pay anyway.”
Clearwater mayor John Harwood said more electrical energy is required in the North Thompson, with or without the mine. Communities needing additional supplies also include Valemount and McBride to the north.
The valley was blacked out in the 1993 wildfires due to limits in BC Hydro’s transmission system.
“Not only does Yellowhead need it, we have a shortage of power,” said Harwood. There’s not enough for industry.”