Highland Valley Copper, located in south central British Columbia, Canada, produces copper and molybdenum concentrates. Work on a two-phase extension program is ongoing and is expected to extend the mine's production life to 2020.
Teck has a 97.5% interest in the mine.
Highland Valley Copper is an open pit operation. The processing plant uses autogenous and semi-autogenous grinding and flotation to produce metal in concentrate from the ore.
Concentrates are transported first by truck to Ashcroft, BC, then by rail and to a port in Vancouver for export overseas. The majority of concentrates are sold under long-term sales contracts to smelters in several countries.
The property is located in the Highland Valley, 75 km southwest of Kamloops in central British Columbia, Canada. It covers a surface area of approximately 34,000 hectares. Highland Valley Copper is one of the largest copper mining and concentrating operations in the world.
It is a porphyry copper-molybdenum deposit mined by several open pits. Facilities include the Highland mill and the Valley, Lornex and Highland open pit mines.
The nearest community to the Highland Valley Mine is Logan Lake, 60km south of Kamloops and 320km east of Vancouver, BC. There are several flights daily to Vancouver and other Western Canadian destinations from Kamloops airport.
The mine offers tours during the summer months.
The Highland Valley low-grade copper/molybdenum deposit lies within the Late Jurassic Guichon Creek batholith in Bethsaida phase porphyritic quartz monzonite and granodiorite. Dykes and mineralized fractures and quartz veins are dated at 204 million years of age.
The most prominent structural features are the north trending, west dipping Lornex fault and the east trending Highland Valley fault. Faults and fractures in the deposit comprise four main sets. Quartz veinlets are subparallel to two of the earlier formed fault and fracture sets.
The rocks of the deposit were subjected to hydrothermal alteration followed by extensive quartz veining, quartz-sericite veining, and silicification. Bornite, chalcopyrite and molybdenum were introduced with the quartz and quartz-sericite veins and typically fill angular openings in them. Accessory minerals consist of hornblende, magnetite, hematite, sphene, apatite and zircon. Pre-mineral porphyry and aplite dykes intrude the host rocks of the deposit.
Mining & Operations
Highland Valley is a low grade, low strip, open pit, truck/shovel operation.
Equipment used is 3 Bucyrus-Erie 49RII/RIII drills; 2 P&H 2800P/B and 2 P&H 2800P/A 31.3M3 shovels and 3 Bucyrus-Erie 295 16.8m3 shovels; a Letourneau L1000 Wheel Loader and a Komatsu W600 loader; 14 Cat 789 trucks and 12 Cat 793 trucks; 6 Cat D10N dozers and 6 Cat 16G and H graders; 3 A-C gyratory crushers.
The mine has approximately 431 million tonnes of reserves grading 0.38% copper and 0.007% molybdenum. Highland Valley Copper is executing a two-phase mine life extension that requires pushbacks of the east and west walls of the Valley pit, which will permit mining until 2019.
Production to 2013 is expected to average 142,000 tonnes of copper per year and production from 2014 to 2019 is expected to average 125,000 tonnes of copper per year. Life of mine copper and molybdenum grades are expected to decline by approximately 10% as a result of the inclusion of lower grade ore in the mine plan.
Ore is processed at the site mill. The mill uses semi-autogenous grinding and conventional flotation processes. Mill throughput exceeded 50 million tonnes for the second consecutive year as the operation achieved a record average throughput of 138,800 tonnes per day in 2005. The processing circuit includes autogeneous mills, semi-autogenous mills, ball mills, flotation facilities, pressurized heated vessels to dissolve residual copper and produce molybdenum concentrate, filters and driers.
There are three SAG lines with two closed-circuit balls mills each, 2 autogenous lines with 1 closed-circuit ball mill each.
Concentrates are transported by rail eastward to domestic markets and to Vancouver for shipment to overseas markets.
Environment and Community
Work continued to evaluate the potential of using biological treatment to lower the molybdenum concentrations in the pit lakes using the same techniques practiced successfully at the former Island Copper mine on Vancouver Island. The effectiveness of this low-cost approach depends on achieving sufficient algae production and metal removal to reach a significant improvement in water quality. Current initiatives include the use of sulphate-reducing bacteria and fertilizer to spur the growth of algae in tailings ponds.
Reclamation is an ongoing process at the mine with current activities consisting of rehabilitation of an old tailings pond, and several waste rock dumps. This is accomplished by planting vast quantities of trees, shrubs and grasses. The mine has planted in excess of 1.7 million trees and shrubs.
The operation has a workforce of 880 and makes a significant economic contribution to a number of local communities.