Friday, February 19, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead, (Thursday, February 18, 2010)

An update on the Kitsault mining project, the School District gets another No when it comes to selling old schools and Terrace wants a Big House, details on the move to locate a federal prison in that community, some of the items of note for Thursday.

Daily News, front page, headline story
AVANTI BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO OLD KITSAULT MINE -- An update of sorts into the progress being made to re-open the Kistault Mine, located 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert, the molybdenum mine has been an on and off process over the years. The newest owners Avanti Mining, hope to find success where others fell short.

Despite their budget crunches, the provinces school districts have not been allowed to sell off their closed properties under a ministerial policy that is leaving School District's with basic maintenance issues for buildings that at the moment serve no particular educational purpose. The move by the Ministry to stop the sale of closed school buildings is one of the few issues that they seem to have in common with the Teachers Federation, which as a group does not favour the prospect of putting those schools currently closed up on the real estate market.

The Daily offers up some early notes on the proposed Property tax deferral option for those homeowners with children under the age of 18. Introduced in the Throne speech of February 9, the initiative would most likely be implemented in time for property tax collection in 2011, though full details on the program have yet to be worked out yet. As well so far there has been little information provided for municipalities that their already fragile financial picture won't suffer a major hit from the plan.

The Sports section features a review of the Valentines weekend action of the Bantam Seawolves, where the local side came in third in the three team zones tournament. The next stop for members of the Seawolves is tryouts for the U16 squad which take place in Houston in late March.

All Native Tournament reviews continued with a three page section outlining the latest details from the ANBT.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for February 18, 2010 )

The Northern View
No new items were posted to the Northern View website, with the exception of the posting of results from the All Native Basketball Tournament (see results here)

CFTK TV 7 News
No new items were posted to the CFTK website for Thursday.

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
Terrace is prison-ville -- The CBC explores the possibility that a federal prison may be located in the City of Terrace, something that their city council is seeking to attract for that community (listen to interview here)

The full list of current Daybreak North interviews can be found here.

Daily News, front page, headline story
Avanti breathing new life into old Kitsault mine
By monica Lamb-yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Avanti Mining Inc. plans to re-open the Kitsault Mine on B.C.’s North Coast.

Located 140 km north of Prince Rupert, the mine was abandoned by Amax in the early 1980s due to high costs of production. The mine had been operated by Amax for only three years.

In June 2008, the mine was awarded to Avanti through a bidding process, selling for $20 million.
Since then, the company has invested an additional $20 million into its development plans. If all goes well, construction should kick off sometime in 2011.

Speaking from Denver, Colorado on Feb. 17, Avanti President and CEO Craig Nelsen said he was researching molybdenum opportunities worldwide and knew the Kitsault was well known in the 1960s.

“The BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has quite a bit of information on Kitsault. I had been researching the commodity and noticed that Kitsault stood out as having a highgrade concentrate. That’s always good when you’re building a mine,” Nelsen added.

Avanti began doing its homework and interviewed people that had worked in the mine when it was in operation.

“They confirmed a lot of the information we’d read about, so eventually we contacted the owners and learned they’d been contacted by a number of companies - so they conducted a bidding process,” Nelsen said.

The mine, he explained, will be a moderate sized open pit mine with a 40,000-ton a day concentrator. From that amount around 70 tons of concentrate can be recovered, so the remaining tailings will be stored in a compound area.

“In the old days, the tailings were dumped into Alice Arm, but we don’t advocate that,” confirmed Nelsen. Instead, the tailings will be permanently deposited behind the dam.

“Water is diverted around them and they are covered, eventually reclaimed and vegetated.”

Within the tailings there are small amounts of lead and silver associated with molybdenum and the company is hoping to eventually develop a process to earn profit from those commodities as well.

Initially the company had looked at the possibility of developing a kiln roaster in one of Prince Rupert’s industrial areas, for roasting concentrate from the Kitsault Mine and other companies, but they have re-assessed that idea, and decided against it.

“On the surface it doesn’t look to be that profitable of a decision,” Nelsen explained. “It was an alternative we were looking at, but it doesn’t seem economically viable. There are kiln roaster facilities around the world we’d ship to. Presently ocean shipping is a reasonable transportation cost.”

Nelsen is confident, however, that communities like Prince Rupert could benefit directly from the mine’s reopening. There will be 330 direct employees at the mine and the spin-offs regionally could be as high as 1,000 he noted, adding that he envisions a seven-day on and seven-day off scenario. Employment could be accessible for workers from the surrounding communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace, Stewart and the Nisga’a villages.

On February 17, the company submitted its application to the BC Environmental Process.

According to Nelsen, the environmental process and the financing will determine the mine’s start up date. “Those two factors will dictate our start.”

In the meantime, the company’s project manager, Finn Conradsen, is managing field activities at the site, said Nelsen.

“There are a number of environmental studies going on. We have a winter goat study and every month we monitor the snowfall. In June or July we’ll do stream monitoring and water chemistry. We drill hydrological holes to evaluate ground water,” Nelsen said.

It is also routine to drill ‘condemnation holes’ to find places ideal for waste ponds and tailings, making sure there is no ore.

“You don’t want to cover ore deposits that would be viable in the future. We think we know where most of the mineralization is, but we have to go out and prove it,” Nelsen said.

If progress looks favourable for the company to proceed with the project, there will be information sessions held in local communities over the next winter.

“Now that the application is going for the environmental review you should hear more and more about it formally,” Nelsen added.

One fly in the ointment is a court case, scheduled to take place March 8 – 10, 2010 at BC Supreme Court, between Avanti Inc. and the town of Kitsault’s present owner, Krishnan Suthanhiran.

Kitsault, a modern day ghost town, was built in 1981 to accommodate workers and their families at the old molybdenum mine. It had everything up-to-date, including curbed roads, a school, houses, hospital, shopping centre and swimming pool.

The President of the Virginia based Best Medical International, Inc., a biomedical engineering firm that specializes in medical devices to treat cancer, Suthanhiran purchased the town in January 2006 for $5.7 million US, with plans to develop it as an eco-retreat.

According to his website, his plan is to invite artists, scientists and single moms - giving the moms free room and board, while educating them - and at the same time working on a cure for cancer. The anticipated opening for the resort would be in 2011.

On September 2008 Avanti Inc. filed a complaint against Suthanhiran with B.C. Supreme Court, alleging it had attempted to access the town of Kitsault on Aug. 30, 2008 to work on the mine and was denied access.
“We don’t want to fight with our neighbours, but he doesn’t want to talk,” Nelsen said.

Attempts to contact Suthanhiran concerning this issue have not yet been successful.

No comments: