The North-Central BC Branch of CIM was established in November 1997 and was thriving for almost six years. Unfortunately, with the closure of the Gibraltar and Mount Polley mines, the branch became dormant.
In November of last year, a decade after its creation, a definitive effort was made to revitalize the branch — a meeting was held, during which a new executive was elected, presentations were made and dates were set for their 2008 AGM. Greg Rasmussen, the new branch chair charged with leading the revival, provided some insight into the timing of the relaunch.
CIM: Why did you get involved with the branch?
G.R.: I have been involved in the branch since 1999. At that time, I worked in operations at the Polaris mine in Nunavut, but was living in Prince George. Then, in 2001, I started working at Kemess and I was interested in what was happening in mining in British Columbia. CIM has always been a great source of information and networking and I wanted to be involved. In 2006, I joined the executive as a member-at-large and was working with the executive on the AGM that year, which due to various reasons, did not materialize.
I volunteered as the acting chairman, working with the past executive, to get the branch going again. I also had good support from the mines and suppliers in the area.
CIM: Why revitalize the branch now?
G.R.: With the mining sector taking off like it has over the years and the potential of another 24 mines in British Columbia opening within the next five years, I thought it would be good to get this branch reactivated. There are presently 24 mines in the environmental review process in BC, with a large portion of these mines in northern BC. Basically, all the mines and potential mines in BC are working with the First Nations and I thought CIM would be a good medium for both the mining and First Nations groups to meet, discuss and learn from each other in a relaxed atmosphere. This way we can hopefully help resolve some of the conflicts in the operation and startup of mining in BC. It’s important for CIM to strongly promote and support the mining industry.
CIM: Where are the branch members coming from?
G.R.: The members are coming from all over British Columbia. We have members from the operating metal mines (Kemess, Eskay Creek, Huckleberry, Endako, Gibraltar, Mount Polley and Highland Valley Copper) and coal mines like Western Canadian Coals’ Wolverine project. This also includes the potentially new mines in BC: the Ruby Creek project, Red Chris, Galore Creek, Mt. Milligan, Turnagain, Tulsequah Chief and New Afton.
We also have a good relationship with the South Central BC Branch of CIM, which we hope will grow even stronger over the next few years.
We have a great showing of suppliers and laboratories including Coneco, P&H, Univar Canada, ME-Elecmetal, Quadra Chemicals, Wolftek Industries, Knelson Concentrators, Lynum Progressive Industries, Atlas Copco, Western Belting, Finning, Orica Canada, Wajax Industries, Transwest and even forestry suppliers like W.L. Forestry Suppliers. Most of them come from the immediate area in north-central British Columbia, but some also from Kamloops, Vancouver and Alberta.
CIM: Why is it important to have a branch in that region?
G.R.: It is important to have a branch in this area due to the high level of mining activity in north-central British Columbia. There is a lot of new technology coming into mining, and through CIM we can improve the learning curve through the exchange of knowledge. We also want to improve the public view of mining through meetings and publications; this involves both the local communities and the First Nations.
CIM: What activities are being planned for this year’s AGM?
G.R.: This year’s AGM is scheduled for June 25 to 27. The technical sessions will, as of now, include mining, mineral processing and coal/petroleum. A highly technical presentation on a project is planned. There will also be a Meet and Greet/Wine and Cheese reception, a branch executive meeting, banquet and golf tournament, among other things.
We’re looking at sponsoring the Northern BC Friends of Children Society. Due to the distance to the Children’s Hospital, which is located in Vancouver, the society’s mission is to help those who are unable to meet the exceptional medical costs related to the needs of their children, mainly travelling down to Vancouver.