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32: weak systems

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Thursday
Feb142013

copper mines

The Kemess South copper mine. A second mine, dubbed Kemess North, was stopped by the Tse Keh Nay First Nations before Amazay Lake could be turned into a waste dump. J P Laplante, photographer

The Kemess South mine site in northern BC is a large porphyry gold and copper open-pit mine that was scheduled for closure in 2011.  It is near Mckenzie, at Highway 97.

In looking up Highway 97, I find it is so-named because it connects to US Route 97 at the border at Osoyoos.  It ends at Watson Lake, Yukon, 2000 km north.  The last 965 km is part of the Alaska Highway, built during WWII to connect Alaska with the United States.  The rest of the Alaska Highway sets off to the west, through Whitehorse. Another section of Highway 97, just before Highway 16 going west to Prince Rupert, is part of the Highway of Tears.

In the 19 years the mine was worked, 7.5 million tonnes of ore produced 2.4 million grams of gold and 9.7 million kilograms of copper, roughly speaking. BC Ministry of Energy describes it thus: The Kemess South deposit is hosted by the Early Jurassic Maple Leaf intrusion, a gently inclined sheet of quartz monzodiorite. The ore body measures 1700 metres long by 650 metres wide and ranges from 100 metres to over 290 metres thick. A blanket of copper-enriched supergene mineralization, containing native copper, overlies hypogene ore and comprises 20 per cent of the deposit.
There is much more in this line here.  Kemess south includes both argillite and graphitic argillite.  In my childhood there used to be a great trade in argillite carvings, something which seems to have disappeared. 

Mining areas are rough, topographically and socially.  There is money to be made, but it is exported before it hits local ground.

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