Opening a can of worms

Mount Milligan Mine is looking at opening up their environmental assessment (EA) to make some changes.

Mount Milligan Mine is looking at opening up their environmental assessment (EA) to make some changes.

One change they would like to make would be to apply to maintain a camp on the mine site during the operational phase.

According to Jocelyn Fraser, director of corporate responsibility for Thompson Creek, the need to reopen the EA is due to changes in commute times due to poor road conditions.

The company expected the commute would take one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes, but it has been taking significantly longer and it may mean asking people to commit to a 15- or 16-hour day.

There was no suggestion to change shift schedules, however.

During their application process Fraser said they have had some people say they are not wanting to do such a long commute.

The change would also allow the mine to expand their employee catchment area to Prince George, Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof.

They still feel the four-on, four-off schedule would keep the labour in the region, as it wouldn’t allow for travel from other parts of the country or province.

“One of the big issues right now is there’s a shortage of skilled labour,” said Fraser. “It’s definitely a job-seeker’s market.”

The mine is also hoping to change another aspect in its original plan, the load-out location, which was planned and approved to be located in Fort St. James, but would still need to be constructed.

At the time of application, the load-out facility in Mackenzie was being used to capacity by Kemess Mine and the road from the mine site to Mackenzie was not up to grade for loaded ore trucks, according to Fraser.

Both those situations have now changed, and she said Mount Milligan would like to examine this option.

“We think it makes sense to take a look at using some of the existing infrastructure on the Mackenzie side,” said Fraser.

In addition, using the road between Mackenzie and Mount Milligan for the ore-hauling would keep the ore trucks off of public roads, while hauling the ore to Fort St. James would require driving down the North Road from the Rainbow Road to the Tachie Road.

“We have to take a long-term look at what the road usage would be like based on what cut patterns are and all the rest,” said Fraser.

The first step will be for Thompson Creek Metals to put a letter forward to the Environmental Assessment Office to start the process.

Mayor Rob MacDougall said the maintenance of a camp during the operational phase is not what the community supported.

The load-out changing to Mackenzie is also a concern for himself and council.

“I guess from a business point of view … that’s fine,” he said. “But we supported the idea of the load-out here because it would have involved probably 20 full-time, long-term jobs and we’re struggling to replace the job loss that we experienced from Stuart Lake Lumber where there was plus or minus 150 workers that were out of work.”

Fraser said she will continue discussions with both Mayor MacDougall as well as the Mackenzie mayor and the community.

“It’s early in the process and we don’t have answers to all the questions but we felt it’s better to start talking to people early on about what we’re thinking,” she said.

Fraser also pointed out the added opportunity for continued service jobs at a camp.

They are now looking at design and logistical possibilities for the potential 300-person camp, but she said they are still going to offer the option for employees to live in Fort St. James or Mackenzie, and are continuing work on housing developments.

The 12 townhouse units in Fort St. James will be available soon, as will 18 modular units in Mackenzie.

The mine is also still continuing work on the 50-lot development in Fort St. James. They already have two single-family residences in Fort St. James and a 23-lot subdivision in Mackenzie.

 

Mount Milligan still anticipates being operational by the third quarter of 2013, with full production by 2014.

 

 

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