B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office wants to hear from you in deciding the fate of the Highland Valley Copper mine.

The mine just west of Logan Lake, which produces around one per cent of the world’s copper concentrate, is currently due for closure in 2028. Teck Resources, the sole owner of the mine, is hoping to extend the mine’s life by another 18 years through an expansion project.

“Copper plays a key role in a low carbon future and the transition to renewable energy as it is an essential element for most electricity-related technologies,” reads the application compiled by Teck. “Copper has been identified as one of six minerals to be prioritized in the Canadian Critical Mineral Strategy to increase the supply of responsibly-sourced critical minerals and support the development of the green and digital economy.”

The public is invited to have its say at a pair of upcoming open houses with Teck: Nov. 8 from 4-8p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Merritt, and Nov. 9 from 10a.m.-2p.m. at the Logan Lake Fire Hall.

The expansion is anticipated to yield around 4.3 billion pounds of copper over an additional 18 years of life, through mining around 900 million tonnes of ore. It would include extensions to pit and waste rock dumps, a 31 per cent increase in production rate, milling modifications and power line and road realignments.

In terms of construction, Teck expects there to be a two-year overlap of the expansion plan with the current operations plan. The report estimates that there would average around 500 full-time employees onsite during this time, and once the construction phase is completed, an additional 200 full-time jobs will be added to operations, resulting in around 1,520 full-timers.

The latest statistics collected by Teck showed that as of 2019, a total of 87.6 per cent of its workforce resided in local communities: 58.7 per cent from Kamloops, 12.9 per cent from Merritt, 12.3 per cent from Logan Lake and 3.8 per cent from Ashcroft.

“Local employment is an important part of HVC’s hiring policies and HVC expects its workforce will maintain a similar proportion of local resident employment for HVC 2040,” reads the report.

Possible environmental impact including groundwater, noise pollution and air quality are also included in the application.

Public commenting is open, and can be done at www.hvc2040.teck.com, where more details regarding the project can also be found.

Some questions to be considered include:

  • Do you have any concerns about the project that are not listed as a potential effect in the application?
  • Do you have specific knowledge that leads you to believe something in the application is inaccurate or incomplete?
  • On the whole, do you feel like potential impacts to your community have been reflected in the application?

Comments will be accepted until Nov. 22.