Top copper mining operations in Canada

These thriving operations are the crux of Canada's copper industry.

by Danielle Cameron
Mining equipment is operating in Copper Mountain mine near Princeton.

The Copper Mountain Mine is in the process of expanding to include the New Ingerbelle project. — Photo courtesy Copper Mountain Mine

Canada is one of the world's major copper producers, with the highest concentration of the metal being sourced in Ontario and B.C. Most companies mine copper as a co-product in conjunction with other metals, such as molybdenum, zinc, nickel or lead, and it is typically found in large sulfide and porphyry deposits. 

These are some of the top active copper mining operations in Canada:

Highland Valley Copper Operations

Location: 17 kilometres west of Logan Lake, B.C.

Mine type: Open pit

Commodities: Copper, molybdenum

Owner: Teck Resources Ltd.

Projected mine life: 2028

Using autogenous and semi-autogenous grinding and flotation methods, the Highland Valley Copper Mine is the largest open-pit facility of its kind in Canada (and one of the largest in the world). According to the Teck website, plans are in the works to further explore this area in hopes of extending the life of the mine by finding more mineral deposits. 

Sudbury Operation

Location: North Bay, Ontario

Mine type: Open pit and underground

Commodities: Copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, gold, palladium, silver

Owner: Vale Canada Ltd.

Projected mine life: 2042

Ontario's Sudbury Operation is located near the site of a meteorite impact, and it's also the site of extensive polymetallic deposits. Its mining potential was first realized by engineers in 1885 during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Copper Mountain Mine

Location: 20 kilometres south of Princeton, B.C.

Mine type: Open pit

Commodities: Copper, gold, silver

Owner: Copper Mountain Mining Corporation (75%), Mitsubishi Materials Corporation (25%)

Projected mine life: 2045

This conventional open-pit mine produces copper concentrates with gold and silver credits. They are currently integrating the New Ingerbelle project, which can expand the plant's production capacity to 45 thousand tonnes per day by 2020.

Kidd Operations

Location: Timmins, Ontario

Mine type: Underground

Commodities: Copper, zinc

Owner: Glencore

Projected mine life: 2022

Located in Timmins, Ontario, the Kidd Mine is known for being the world's deepest base-metal mine below sea level. The staff use cutting-edge technology (such as ventilation-on-demand and automated scoop trams), paired with their extensive expertise, to extract ores that can be up to three kilometres underground.

Red Chris Mine

Location: 80 kilometres south of Dease Lake, B.C.

Mine type: Open pit

Commodities: Copper, gold

Owner: Imperial Metals

Projected mine life: 2043

The Red Chris Mine was acquired by Imperial Metals in 2007, and the company has invested in the project significantly over the years. Official production began in 2015, after the Red Chris Development Company and the Tahltan Nation signed an Impact, Benefit and Co-Management Agreement.

New Afton Mine

Location: West of Kamloops, B.C.

Mine type: Open pit and underground

Commodities: Copper, gold

Owner: New Gold

Projected mine life: 2024

The New Afton Mine is located at the site of the historic Afton Mine, once under the ownership of Teck Resources Ltd. The current project includes both open-pit and underground operations, and incorporates historic support facilities, a new concentrator and a recently constructed tailings facility.  

Gibraltar mine

Location: Cariboo region, B.C.

Mine type: Open pit and underground

Commodities: Copper, molybdenum

Owner: Taseko Mines Ltd. (75%)

Projected mine life: 2038

The Gibraltar mine was originally built in 1972 and designed to process 36,000 tonnes of ore per day. Taseko Mines came along and purchased the site in 1999, and in 2004 it gave the project a $700 million restart, realizing its vast potential for increased copper production. Now, it is the second-largest open-pit copper mine in Canada and the most prominent employer in the Cariboo region.

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