Yellowhead Mining announced last Tuesday that it has purchased the former Weyerhaeuser sawmill site near Vavenby.
“That certainly is good news,” commented Clearwater Mayor John Harwood. “They’re showing they’re ready to put significant money into this area.”
Harwood noted that the announcement followed one about two weeks earlier that the provincial Environmental Assessment Office had approved the application information requirements for Yellowhead’s Harper Creek project.
“This acquisition is a very important building block for the project development, and ensures we will have room for concentrate storage, rail access and staging grounds for the construction phase,” said Ian Smith, Yellowhead CEO. “We are continuing to de-risk the project with this acquisition and by advancing the feasibility study expected to be complete in the first quarter on 2011.”
“It is an exciting day to our Council and for the communities of Clearwater and Vavenby that this property will once again become a working piece of land,” said Leslie Groulx, Clearwater chief administrative officer.
“In 2009 one if the key representatives of Matco (owner of the Weyco property) came to the District and met with me and Mayor Harwood to ask for assistance in selling the property,” recalled Groulx. “Since that time, as the economic development officer for the District of Clearwater, I had linked five potential investors to the Valley with this property.
The Clearwater CAO noted that the site has steadily deteriorated with time, making it more difficult to attract an investor. In recent months the District worked with two potential buyers, most recently an investor looking at green energy.
“Yellowhead Mines intends to work with its neighbor to bring this site back to its potential as a hub for industry,” said Groulx. “The missing part of the puzzle is adequate power,” she added. “Our council, regional district representatives and neighboring communities continue to work to bring together the North Thompson and Robson Valley representatives to push forward the need for a sustainable, consistent and constant power source to ensure that industry can thrive in our valleys.”
The acquisition includes the remaining buildings, offices and statutory rights of way. The purchase price was $2,150,000. Closing was effective Nov. 7.
The former Weyerhaeuser property comprises approximately 79.3 hectares and has an approximately 1,880-meter rail siding, connecting to the Canadian National Railway’s transcontinental main line. The rail load-out would be located approximately 25 km by road from the Harper Creek project mill site.
The Harper Creek project is a proposed copper-gold-silver open pit mine with a projected a 22-year lifespan at a milling rate of 70,000 tonnes per day.
Weyerhaeuser closed its Vavenby sawmill operation in 2003, costing the local economy at least 185 jobs.
A company named Interact used the site for a finger-joint plant for a while before going bankrupt in 2005 and being forced to close.