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BC At Leading Edge Of New Canadian Copper Mines

British Columbia also has its share of controversial projects, such as the $795 million Ajax copper and gold project, owned 20 percent by Abacus Mining & Exploration (TSXV:AME) and 80 percent by KGHM Polska Miedz's (PINK:KGHPF) KGHM International (TSX:QUX); and Taseko Mines' (TSX:TKO) $1 billion New Prosperity copper and gold project.

Ajax, controversial because it is located within the city limits of Kamloops, BC, was initially slated to start producing in 2015, but has been delayed by federal and provincial environmental reviews. “It's looking more like 2016,” KGHM-Ajax spokesman Norm Thompson told Kamloops Daily News in October.

Last month, BC's environmental assessment office said most of the public's concerns about the Ajax project center on environmental and socio-economic issues. “We've hired a socio-economic impact group to see what these guys are doing,” EAO's executive project director for BC, Scott Bailey, said at a town meeting in Kamloops in January.

Ajax is expected to produce 110 million pounds of copper and 100,000 ounces of gold in concentrate per year, according to an Abacus November presentation. The mine's net present value is estimated at of $416 million per year at a copper price of $2.75 per pound.

Meanwhile, New Prosperity, regarded as one of the largest undeveloped gold-copper deposits in the world, could produce 130,000 million tons of copper and 300,000 ounces of gold per year over a 20-year mine life. It is again facing delays in the environmental review process after its original plan was rejected in 2010 due among others to the “significant adverse effects” it would have on fish habitat in the Taseko River.

It its latest environmental statement, the company sought to address these issues, and CEO Russell Hallbauer said in a Vancouver Sun opinion piece in September that the company is committing $300 million to “mitigate environmental impacts.”

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