A rural politician will lobby B.C.'s minister of energy and mines this week to relax mining royalties as a way to encourage a copper refinery in the Interior.
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said he will continue to advocate for Teck Resources Ltd's process, what he calls "clean, green, made-in-B.C. technology."
Teck first considered using the technology developed in B.C. in the late 1990s for potential use at a refinery at Highland Valley Copper.
Refining involves removing impurities from copper to improve its conductive qualities, while the smelting process extracts the metal from ore. It is considered a clean alternative to traditional smelting.
But the plan for a refinery and its potential for 100 jobs was eventually shelved.
The concept surfaced again in 2007 but never progressed beyond an idea. The technology was originally developed and piloted in the Lower Mainland by Cominco, which was purchased by Teck.
Teck has supported development and construction of a plant at Vale Copper in Brazil, the first commercial use of the technology.
Ranta tried to kick-start the idea of a refinery earlier this year and met with officials from Teck and the province. He said the message from Teck was it did not want to make the investment itself but is willing to license its technology.
Ranta will meet with Bill Bennett, minister of energy and mines, to lobby for a reduction in mining royalties if metals are processed in B.C.
While Ranta acknowledged a loss of revenue to the province, he argues it would be made up by income taxes and other revenues from a refinery. He also predicts a value-added industry would result from a facility.
The idea of producing copper in B.C., rather than shipping copper concentrate overseas to Asia, surfaced last week when anti-Ajax protesters warned that KGHM has plans for a smelter here.
The company has denied that allegation.
But Ranta said Teck's refining technology promises to eliminate downsides of traditional smelting, naming sulfur dioxide production - a contributor to acid rain.
Ranta is pushing for a project in Cache Creek, which is central to copper operations in the Cariboo and Southern Interior.
The meeting with Bennett is scheduled during the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver this week. Politicians from Kamloops council and Thompson-Nicola Regional District are slated to attend.
TNRD chairman Randy Murray said another mining-related issue will figure prominently for local politicians: he and local directors are slated to meet with cabinet ministers to push for a doubling of capacity of energy from B.C. Hydro.
The increase is largely needed to provide power for the proposed Harper Creek mine.
"There's a lot of potential jobs up there," Murray said of Harper Creek and other exploration projects. "With two to three projects, it could be 1,000 jobs."