Friday, January 29, 2010

Northwest Transmission Line Project Offical Application to EAO

This is good to hear, though I still think that the line should be a much larger one and should be extended all the way to Alaska and Yukon. You can follow the details at the EAO here.

Here is the story for the Kitimat Sentinel

The plan to extend the provincial power grid up north by building a power line has officially been submitted for environmental approval.

The application was made today by the provincially-owned BC Transmission Corporation to the provincial Environmental Assessment Office.

That office now has 30 days to decide if the application submitted for the Northwest Transmission Line meets all of the criteria needed to start an environmental review.

The review is to last 180 days, although it can be halted if unforeseen issues do arise.

The transmission corporation was given a $10-million budget 18 months ago by the provincial government to prepare the submission.

Although the provincial Liberals want to build the line - and at one time committed $250 million to an estimated construction budget of $400 million - it has yet to confirm its monetary commitment.

That $250 million commitment was made in 2007 when it had a private partner, NovaGold Resources, willing to put up the rest of the money.

But that fell through and the project was put on hold when NovaGold, which wanted power for its Galore Creek copper mine development, halted work when the Galore project became too expensive.

In Sept. 2008, the province renewed plans to at least prepare the line application for an environmental review after extensive lobbying by mining companies and northwestern governments.

Backers of the line say that it will be a lot easier to convert promising mineral properties into working mines if a source of stable power was available

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kokish Hydroelectric Project near Port McNeil

The Kokish Hydroelectric Project has a draft terms of reference within the BC Environmental Assessment process. There is a comment period till Feb 11th. Public meetings were held in Alert Bay and Port McNeil last week.

The Kokish River Hydroelectric project is a partnership between the 'Namgis First Nation and Brookfield Renewable Power. The plan is for a 45 Mw powerplant producing between 150 and 200 GWh/yr. The biggest issue with respect to the environment is the impact on the fish in the river. I assume much of the assessment process will be about fish issues. The full description of the project can be found here.

This project is a very positive thing to see. Rural First Nations in BC need to find more opportunities to create jobs and to create revenues that are not under the control of the Federal government. A project like this will create a moderate number of jobs in the construction process and a few ongoing jobs in running the facility. As more non storage hydro facilities go into operation, there will be increased long term fulltime jobs.

The gross revenues of the project should be at least $9,000,000 a year. I am not sure what the operating costs will be and costs involved with financing so it is hard to estimate what the return will be to the partners. After the cost to build it accounted for, it is reasonable to think the partners will see a million dollar return per year. For the 'Namgis this means they will be closing in on 45% of their revenues coming from non Federal Government sources.

The partnering with a company that has a track record in being able to develop non storage hydro projects will also lead to a transfer of knowledge to the 'Namgis. As they develop more human resource capacity for projects like this, the easier it will be for them to develop projects without partners. The 'Namgis already own a 12% stake in Orca sand and gravel quarry. In general the 'Namgis are proactive in building economic opportunities for their community.

The 'Namgis are looking at several other small scale hydro projects. One is also with Brookfield this is a 6.6MW one on Clint Creek. The other is still in the very early stages, a 9.9Mw one on the East Fork of the Kokish River in partnership with Innergex Renewable Energy. As these are built, the overall costs of operating all of them will fall and the returns to the 'Namgis will improve.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rail Links in the Northwest

I am curious why the rail link to Kitimat has not been used to make a larger use of the port facilities there? It strikes me as another good location for a small container port and for a bulk terminal. With the lose of Eurocan, Kitimat needs to really focus on the port.

Another port that is underused is Stewart. If a rail link were built through to Yukon and Alaska, this community makes sense for a spur line.

Both of these ports, along with Prince Rupert, would make the demand for the mainline from Prince Rupert to Edmonton much higher. From a rail line perspective, this a better and easier route to maintain that the CP route through the Fraser Canyon and then the Rockies.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Province Issues Environment Assessment Certificate for the Prosperity Mine

The Prosperity mine is located near Taseko Lake in the Chilcotin, it is about 125 km from Williams Lake. It was granted an environment assessment certificate today.

The deposit is a large copper gold porphyry. It has been on the radar of prospectors since the 1930s. The property has been owned by Taseko Mines ltd since 1969. Taseko is not just an exploration junior, they operate the copper-moly Gibraltar mine 75 km northwest of Williams Lake.

The Taseko mine has a 20 year life span at the moment. The capital cost to build the mine is estimated to be about $807,000,000. Employment by the mine is estimated to be about 375 people per year. The mine will produce 247,000 ounces of gold and 108,000,000 pounds of copper per year. At today's gold and copper price, this is over $700 million a year. The mine remains in the black even if the price of both gold and copper drop to one third of where they are now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some new places we could use ferries in BC

I am suggesting some new routes because BC Ferries has some surplus small ferries now that the Golden Ears Bridge is in place and there is no need for the Albion Ferry.

Tofino - Ahousat The population on Ahousat is higher than many gulf islands currently being served by BC Ferries. This could be combined with a stop on Meares Island

Lund - Cortes Island This link would allow another way out for Cortes Island people and improve the tourism circle route options. It also offer another way out of the Powell River area.

Langdale - New Brighton on Gambier The population of Gambier is small but growing, it is ready for a small ferry.

With the dock being available, could BC Ferries not consider a service from Little River near Comox to Tsawwassen?

Maybe it is time for BC Ferries ot consider a service from Sidney to the San Juan Islands?