Over 30 people were on hand at the Nak’albun Elementary School gymnasium to get the latest update from Mt. Milligan on June 29.
Wes Carson, manager of operations development at the mine, and Christy Smith, superintendent of community affairs, spoke to the crowd to get them up to speed on the latest as part of six month updates.
The presentation included a refresher on how the mine will work, where the mine construction is at, information on how to apply for jobs as well as a video showing “a day in the life” working at the mine.
“We’ve had a lot of changes in the last six months,” said Carson.
The copper-gold deposit will be mined in two separate pits with a projected haul of 480 million tonnes of low-grade ore, which will still produce a lot of metal at that volume.
Carson said there will be an estimated six million ounces of gold and 2.1 billion pounds of copper mined from the site.
“At current prices, that makes you a little bit of money,” said Carson with a smile.
He also emphasized the potential for the mine to expand beyond the expected mine term if they continue to find additional deposits.
Of the 55 permits required to actually begin operations, they have so far secured 50 of them, and expect the last five to be in place by November of this year.
In terms of construction and employment, the project is up to a workforce of 500 people, with about 350 of those on the site itself, and about 150 working in the design office in Vancouver.
Most of the 350 people working on site are staying in the camp now, which has a capacity of 650. They expect the camp to be at full capacity by September or October of this year.
The dorms in the camp have 44 rooms each, with semi-private bathrooms and there are recreation facilities on site for the workers as well.
The construction is about 10 per cent complete now, and the engineering design is about 50 per cent complete with the remainder being the detail work of the wiring and plumbing, etc. Carson said they expect to be ready to pour some of the concrete by the end of July, with steel starting to go up after that.
“The idea is to get that main mill building closed up by winter so we can continue working all the way through winter,” said Carson.
They plan to use approximately 50,000 cubic metres of concrete and 8,000 tonnes of steel to complete the construction.
The 92 km power line for the site has been cleared and about 60 per cent of the poles have been erected at this point, with the line scheduled to be complete in February of next year.
Procurements of equipment have begun, with $132 million in mining equipment awarded to Caterpillar last December. The mining fleet is expected to be starting up in the second quarter of next year to start stripping the open pit and exposing the ore so it is ready to feed into the plant when it starts operating in mid 2013.
The operations team itself is expected to get started within the next eight months.
Smith spoke on the employment and sustainability goals of the project, mentioning the sustainability committee Thompson Creek has for the region, which provides an opportunity for some discussion with selected members of the community.
Their goal is a “mutually beneficial relationship with the community,” said Smith, which appears to relate mostly to employment at this stage.
They are emphasizing the desire to hire locally from within the region of Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Mackenzie and Prince George, and locals hoping to get on with the mine are encouraged to look at the updated website www.mtmilligan.com or to contact the local office to find out how their skills might fit into the project. “There’s a very strong need to have a lot of employees in the area and it’s going to be a fairly interesting time,” said Smith.
A few of the questions after the presentation revolved around safety on the North Road.
Carson said they have been in discussions with the highways department to identify some concerns and areas needing work and brushing out.
“Safety is the number one thing for us, safety for our employees and safety for the people in our communities as well, but really accessing the site for us is going to be a challenge,” said Carson. The company will not be funding any of the improvements, however.
“It’s really something the provincial government should be doing themselves,” said Carson.
When asked if the mine would be sponsoring any facilities within the communities to help attract or retain human resources, Carson said “one of the things we’re looking at right now is housing … we do intend in investing in communities, how we actually do that we haven’t decided yet.”
The plan to close the camp after the construction stage is still the goal, according to Carson.
Smith also debunked the rumour Thompson Creek will be focusing on Mackenzie instead of Fort St. James as a base, saying the company needs both the communities to be successful.