First gold was poured June 20 at the Brucejack gold mine in northwestern B.C. It’s owned by Pretivm Resources.                                Pretivm Resources photo

First gold was poured June 20 at the Brucejack gold mine in northwestern B.C. It’s owned by Pretivm Resources. Pretivm Resources photo

Northwest B.C. mine pours first gold

Pretium’s Brucejack mine in production earlier than forecast

Fully half of the approximately 413 direct employees at the Brucejack gold mine near Stewart are from the region, indicate figures released by Pretivm Resources from Vancouver, which owns the mine.

And 92 per cent of all its employees are from the province.

The employee figures don’t include those contract workers brought in for the underground mining portion of the mine’s workings.

Pretivm marked a milestone June 20 when the first doré bar of gold was poured at the site. Doré is the description given to a relatively unrefined bar of gold which is then shipped to a refinery for further refining.

The pouring of the first bar is several months ahead of schedule for Brucejack as Pretivm had originally projected a September date to reach production. Construction crews remain at the site as production begins to ramp up.

The mine, which will produce gold as well as silver, has a projected lifespan of 18 years based on current defined ore body.

Construction at Brucejack, which cost in the neighbourhood of (US) $811 million, began in 2015 following the project receiving environmental clearance and the signing of a benefits agreement with the Nisga’a Lisims Government.

The total spent is $1.2 billion (US) with $108 million (US) spent on acquiring the property and the remainder going to exploration and permitting. Intensive exploration and development accelerated in 2013.

Pretivm’s regional office is in Smithers.

Speaking recently to city council and to the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, mine general manager Kevin Torpy said it will continue its plan of hiring locally.

“They do not have to relocate and we have done a much better job doing that in the last year-and-a-half,” he told Terrace council of hiring Northwest residents.

The company is also using the Northwest Regional Airport as its staging facility for people coming up from the Lower Mainland.

As with many remote mines, workers spent several weeks on-site and are then rotated out for a rest period. The mine’s accommodation camp can hold 330 people.

“[Brucejack is] one of highest grade gold projects in the world, certainly in the top 10 in Canada,” Torpy told Terrace council.

He said the company is putting a lot of effort into safety and security at the location, including enforcing policies surrounding drugs, alcohol and contraband.

“We put in a lot of effort, not just around gold security, but in making sure people come into the site fit for work and are not a danger to themselves or others they’re working with,” said Torpy.

The mine draws its power from a 57-kilometre-long line branching off of the BC Hydro line which already runs into Stewart.

Brucejack is the second mine to open recently in the Northwest, following the 2015 opening of the Red Chris copper and gold mine owned by Imperial Metals located off of Highway 37 North and south of Dease Lake.