—— By Michael Potestio/Castanet


Nicola Mining plans to begin drilling at new sites near an old copper mine northwest of Merritt — a project the firm’s VP of exploration sees as its the future.

The company operates on the Craigmont Mine site and has numerous side businesses — a rock quarry, remediation business and milling facility — that fund its exploration.

William Whitty, Nicola Mining’s vice-president of exploration, said recent drilling in a site west of the old mine has shown signs of copper deposits.

Speaking to Castanet at the Kamloops Exploration Group conference on Tuesday, he said the new mining operation could be good news for the province.

“We’ve got a major shortage of copper, which is a critical mineral, and being able to find and process that from B.C. is great for the economics of British Columbia,” Whitty said.

“From an environmental standpoint, we have the highest standards in the world for mining and for the environment, so it’s much better for us to produce it than to have it come from somewhere else.”

He explained the company also already has all the infrastructure and permits in place needed to undertake the operation with minimal impact.

“We’ve got access to the property by roads, we’ve got all the local workforce and vendors, so we don’t have to bring all of that in. We don’t have to do a lot of destruction to building roads or building air strips [and] we don’t have to transport anything very far,” Whitty said.

He said there is the potential to find decades worth of copper to mine from these new sites.

The next step will involve detailed surveying to identify targets, then more drilling.

Whitty said Nicola Mining consolidated multiple claims in the area in 2015, enabling a level of exploration that hadn’t happened in the past.

At the end of 2022, the company was granted a five-year permit to conduct drilling and trenching in the target areas, which Whitty said have shown signs of more copper resources.