But in November, a federal review panel asked Taseko to provide information on “cumulative environmental effects” that the project might have. Taseko's disputed the claim, saying it sees “no need” to complete additional assessments.

Beyond British Columbia, overall exploration investment in Canada rose 41 percent to C$3.9 billion in 2011 and increased again to $4.2 billion in 2012, The Mining Association of Canada said in the Facts & Figures 2012 report last month.

“As exploration activity and mineral production are intrinsically linked, the Canadian mining industry could see a dramatic expansion in the years to come,” said Pierre Gratton, the mining association's president and CEO.

VMS Ventures' (TSXV:VMS) $70.6 million Reed copper deposit in Manitoba is expected to start production in the fourth quarter this year. It is a joint venture with Hudbay Minerals (TSX:HBM) under which Hudbay owns 70 percent. Reed is expected to produce up to 78,000 tons of copper concentrate per year over a five to six year mine life, VMS Ventures said in a presentation at the Astrologer's Fund Conference this week. The mine's net present value is estimated at C$130.5 million at an average copper price of $3.5 per pound.

And in the Yukon, Western Copper and Gold (TSX:WRN) last month announced a positive feasibility study on its C$2.46 billion Casino copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project. It said the mine should produce 171 million pounds of copper and 266,000 ounces of gold each year over the mine's 22-year life, starting in 2017 for gold and 2019 for copper. The net present value is estimated at C$1.83 billion per year.


Securities Disclosure: I, Ragnhild Kjetland, hold no investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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