VANCOUVER – Imperial Metals Corp. (III-TSX) has struck a deal with the British Columbia government, resulting in the cancellation of its mining claims in an ecologically sensitive watershed located 37 kilometres east of Hope, B.C.
In return for agreeing to extinguish the claims in the nearly 58-square-kilometre Silverdaisy watershed known as the Skagit River Donut Hole, the mining company will receive $24 million to cover all prior investment in the Giant Copper claim area.
Imperial has held the Giant Copper mineral claims since April, 1988. The claim area hosts two mineral deposits containing copper, silver and gold and a recently discovered gold showing. The claim area predates the creation of Manning Park and the Skagit Valley Provincial Park, which now surround the claims area.
However, in 1995, following a public review process, the British Columbia government designated almost 30,000 hectares at the Skagit Valley Provincial Park, while allowing mineral exploration in the 2,500-hectare claim area. Imperial, at the time, surrendered some of its claims along the Skagit River to enhance what would become the Skagit Valley Provincial Park in return for a commitment to allow mineral exploration and possibly mining in the remaining Giant Copper claims.
“The decision to now surrender all remaining claims recognizes the challenges of obtaining mineral exploration and development permits in this area,’’ said Imperial President Brian Kynoch. “Our objective as a mining company would have been to proceed with exploration on our claims,’’ he said. “But as a company that is responsive to the aspirations of Indigenous communities, government, and neighbours, we support this agreement.’’
Imperial shares advanced on the news rising 2.45% or $0.09 to $3.75 in light trading. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $5.95 and $2.95.
Imperial’s principal properties in B.C. include the wholly-owned Mount Polley and Huckleberry copper mines.
Imperial formed a joint venture with Australian partner Newcrest Mining Ltd. [NCM-ASX] at the Red Chris copper gold mine in Northern B.C. in March 2019, after agreeing to sell a 70% stake in the mine to Newcrest, which is now the operator. Imperial continues to hold a 30% stake in the joint venture, which aims to leverage the Australian company’s technical expertise in block caving operations.
In keeping with that plan, they are developing a plan to mine the deep resource beneath the current open pits in a bid to exploit high grades in the deep East zone.
Red Chris produced 88.3 million pounds of copper and 73,787 ounces of gold in 2020. It said copper and gold production increased 22.9% and 102.9% respectively, compared to 71.9 million pounds of copper and 36,371 ounces of gold in 2019.