A regional mining boom is expected to prevent closure of the Craigmont Mine near Merritt from delivering a serious blow to the Merritt economy, Mayor Susan Roline said on Tuesday.
Craigmont is in the process of permanently shutting down, having reached the end of its second life. Copper was mined there from 1961 to 1982, but new owners restarted the operation in 1985, remilling magnetite from the old tailings.
The mine currently has about 30 employees, many of whom have found new employment at other mining operations in the region, Roline said.
“There are other things taking its place, quickly,” she said.
Craigmont employees have found work at New Afton near Kamloops, Mount Polley near Williams Lake and the Basin Coal Mine near Tulameen, Roline noted. Merritt is the primary service centre for the Basin mine.
They’ve also found work at the Treasure Mountain Mine, 70 km south of Merritt, which resumed full operation Monday. The mine was shut down Nov. 1 by the Ministry of Energy and Mines over safety, health and reclamation concerns. The company, Huldra Silver Inc., is also preparing to open a mine mill outside of Merritt for processing silver, lead and zinc.
B.C. has in operation nine metal mines and 10 coal mines that employ about 32,000 people.
According to a report released this fall by the B.C. Mining Human Resources Task Force, mining will require between 13,000 and 17,000 new workers in the province over the next 10 years to account for retirement within the work force.