Western Canadian porphyry deposits - economic perspectives, performances and prospects

Special Volume, Vol. SV 46, No. 1995, 1995

This paper offers a comprehensive review of the numerous economic features that influence or have influenced the profitability of porphyry copper and molybdenum deposits in western Canada, notably in British Columbia. Over the thirty years since the opening of the Bethlehem Copper mine in 1963, porphyry deposits have supported thirteen producing mines, provided over two billion tonnes of ore, and yielded some 6 Mt of copper and 300 000 t of molybdenum. Six deposits have contributed very significantly to the industry's total by-product output of over 110 t (3.5 million ounces) of gold and 1500 t (48 million ounces) of silver. This paper includes an analysis of this total production, and of the accompanying trends of the inflation-adjusted copper, molybdenum and gold prices. Important operating figures for the mines that have produced are tabulated and discussed individually. Finally, an attempt is made to ~ what improvements in conditions - of grades, metal prices, technology and government attitudes - would help to restore the porphyry mining sector to renewed activity and stability.
Keywords: Economics, Porphyry copper deposits, Molybdenum deposits, British Columbia, Improvements