The Ministry of Energy and Mines issued the Mines Act permit amendment for the Red Chris Mine, allowing the project to move ahead to production.
Red Chris Gold and Copper Mine, situated on one of the largest and highest-quality copper and gold deposits in the world, will soon be in full production.
"We've come a long way since the 1990s when the reputation of B.C.'s mining industry was severely damaged," said Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett. "The opening of the Red Chris Mine is further evidence that the mining industry now sees B.C. as a good choice for investment."
The Red Chris Mine, which is expected to employ 350 workers, including many First Nations people, is located about 18 kilometres southeast of the Tahltan village of Iskut and 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake and the site occupies around 660 hectares on the Todagin Plateau between Ealue and Kluea Lakes.
Six new mines have opened in B.C. since 2011.
In April of this year, Tahltan Central Council members voted to accept a co-management agreement with Imperial Metals and Red Chris Mine. The unique agreement ensures Tahltan oversight of environmental issues surrounding the mine. It also guarantees training and careers for Tahltan members, and a revenue-sharing agreement.
But earlier in the process, their support wasn't there. Following the Mount Polley tailings pond spill, Tahltan First Nation members set up a blockade at the mine last year.
The tailings storage facility (TSF) at Red Chris Mine has been the subject of three independent reviews - including one commissioned by the Tahltan Central Council - to assess seepage and design considerations. The mine has also done an extensive review of their subsurface hydrogeology and has made adjustments as per third party review recommendations. According to the ministry, the mine has successfully demonstrated to the chief inspector of mines that the TSF has performed as designed.
The mine is serviced by the new Northwest Transmission Line, which was completed in 2014. Copper and gold from the mine will be transported to the Port of Stewart where it will be shipped to overseas markets.
The project faces concern from some environmental groups upstream in Alaska, like Salmon Beyond Borders.
"Last week's ill-conceived decision by the British Columbia government to issue a final operating permit for Red Chris mine disregards concerns from Alaskans whose clean water, fisheries, tourism, jobs, and traditional ways of life are threatened," stated the group in a release following the permit. "Red Chris is owned by Imperial Metals, the same company responsible for the Mount Polley mine disaster last summer, one of Canada's worst environmental catastrophes."