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Vol. 12, No. 8 Week of February 25, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

MINING NEWS: B.C. to extend power to Red Chris vicinity

Rose Ragsdale

For Mining News

BcMetals Corp.ís plans to develop its potentially lucrative Red Chris copper-gold project in northern British Columbia may be moot now that Imperials Metals Corp. is the apparent winner of a recent bidding war for the Vancouver, B.C.-based mining company.

But the ambitious juniorís plans got a big boost in January when British Columbia Transmission Corp., the crown corporation responsible for the provinceís power transmission lines, said it will move ahead with construction of a proposed extension of its Northwest Transmission Line to the vicinity of the Red Chris deposit.

Located 280 miles north of Smithers, B.C., and 11 miles southeast of the village of Iskut, Red Chris was to be developed as an open pit mine employing about 250 people full-time during operations. The capital cost of building the mine was estimated at C$200 million and annual spending on operations would total about C$70 million.

The mine plan called for processing 27,500 metric tons of ore per day over a projected mine life of 18 years, according to documents filed with the B.C. government.

Power available by 2009

The NTL project consists of a 287 kilovolt extension to the existing power line infrastructure from the lineís current terminus at Meziadin Junction to Iskut along the Highway 37 corridor, together with an upgrade to the existing Skeena-Meziadin transmission line from 138 kV to 287 kV.

BCTC said it is considering an in-service date of fall 2009 for the 200-mile section from Meziadin to Bob Quinn Lake, with a temporary connection to the existing 138 kV line at Meziadin. Planning on the sections between Skeena near the town of Terrace and Meziadin is still based on an in-service date of fall 2010.

BcMetals said Jan. 17 that construction of the Red Chris mine would be completed by fall 2009, if it began this spring.

The company cannot begin construction on the Red Chris project under the conditions of its environmental assessment certificate without a viable source of power. Its financing for the project with Investec Bank UK Ltd. also depends on a reliable power source.

However, Red Chris does not require completion of the upgrade to the Skeena-Meziadin Junction section to commence operations, the company added.

Unlike many projects, where junior mining companies enter into partnerships or sell their properties to larger companies, BcMetals had hoped to develop the Red Chris deposit itself with the support of a limited partnership with Global International Jiangxi Copper Company Ltd., a Hong Kong investment company that had agreed to purchase a 75 interest in the venture and metal concentrates produced at the mine.

BcMetals shareholders were scheduled to vote on the deal at special meeting Feb. 14.

However, BcMetals abruptly canceled the special meeting and advised holders of BcMetals stock, warrants and options Feb. 14 to tender all of their securities to the Imperial buyout offer, which expired Feb. 16. The companyís managers and directors also indicated that they intended to submit their own BcMetals securities to the Imperial offer as well.



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