A construction permit for a proposed $50-million silver, lead and zinc mine was approved by British Columbia.
The permit for the proposed mine, owned by JDS Silver Inc., was awarded after the project’s economic and environmental plans helped win support from an area First Nation, The Globe and Mail reported.
Mines Minister Bill Bennett said that the underground Silvertip mine, just south of Yukon border, could create up to 200 jobs and could be in operation for more than 20 years. Vancouver-based JDS Silver Inc., said once it receives the necessary permits, it plans to operate about 150 days a year and shut down in the winter months.
The mine, located about 90 km (55 miles) southwest of Watson Lake, Yukon, has been of interest to several mining proposals since the 1950s due to the high-grade lead-silver-zinc deposit.
Bennett said the company can immediately start building and that the operation will produce a smaller environmental footprint than other larger mines in B.C.’s northwest.
He said it will be an underground operation so much of its ore tailings will be stored below ground.
But approval permits are still required for the mine’s underground shaft and its above-ground operations that will include a mill to turn the ore to concentrate, Bennett said.
Bennett said he expects the Silvertip mine to be in operation within the next 15 months.
The Silvertip mine does not include an above-ground tailings pond to store its waste materials. A breach of the tailings pond at central B.C.’s Mount Polley mine last August spilled 24 million cubic metres of silt and water into nearby lakes and rivers.
JDS Silver’s chief operating officer Kevin Weston said the mine will be one of the most environmentally responsible operations in the province.
Weston said JDS Silver has worked out a social economic partnership with the area’s Kaska First Nation.
“JDS Silver has committed to dry-stack tailings versus a conventional tailings pond, resulting in very little post-closure impact on the environment,” he said. “The company intends to leave the land with minimal impact while maximizing benefits to all of our stakeholders and our partners, the Kaska First Nation.”