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This Vancouver-based company is recycling mines for a sustainable future

Skeena Resources is featured in the 2021 Environmental Excellence in B.C. magazine.

Metals are all around us. We use them in our smartphones, medical equipment, solar panels, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. If it’s not grown, it’s mined. Metals are both a critical part of a sustainable future and our evolving society. 

Taking an innovative approach to providing us with the metals we need, Vancouver-based company Skeena Resources Limited has started a business model around the idea of mine recycling. The recycling of mines, called brownfield sites, means looking for additional mineral resources where they have been mined before.

“Rather than looking for new mineral properties, we started looking at closed past-producing mines,” says Justin Himmelright, Vice President of Sustainability at Skeena Resources Limited. “This is more in alignment with the environmental and social values in society today.”

Skeena has acquired the closed past-producing precious metal mines of Eskay Creek and Snip, located in Tahltan Territory, an area known as the Golden Triangle in northwest B.C.

Focused around working with communities, especially Indigenous Nations, Skeena offers value for those communities and drives business with contracts for services and employment.

“Social licence is an overused but paramount term,” says Himmelright. “Support from communities to move projects ahead is required. Skeena’s focus on the broader conversation of reconciliation within Indigenous communities is demonstrated by the focus of our organization which, along with the focus on recycling of mines, makes us a unique operator in the mining space.”

Recent successes for Skeena include the company’s collaboration with the Tahltan Nation on conservation and investing in future generations.

Skeena has worked with the Tahltan Nation to convert 3,500 hectares of their mineral tenures next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park into a protected area. This conservancy will be protected from mineral development forever – an example of the company’s innovative approach to sustainable development, collaboration, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and protecting the land for future generations.

In terms of investment in future generations, Skeena has created a mentorship program working with six young Tahltan Nation professionals in various capacities.

“Tahltan played a major role in the Eskay Creek Mine when it was previously in operation, making up 30-35% of the workforce. We would like to build on that legacy and see Tahltans in management positions when the mine moves into operation again; we have begun with training and experience for young professionals who want to work in an industry that has a significant presence in their Territory.” says Himmelright.

Skeena is also supporting the Tahltan Nation in moving forward as a regulator on their territorial lands. The Eskay Creek Revitalization Project will be the first mining project in B.C. to be granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate authorized by a First Nation.

“We believe that this is the right step to take in acknowledging Indigenous Title and Rights in the area. This is unceded territory and taking this step is in line with our values on supporting reconciliation with Indigenous people.” Himmelright says.

The reopening and revitalization of the Eskay Creek mine is also a serious undertaking.

“During its operation, it was the highest-grade gold mine in the world. We have an opportunity to bring it to today’s standards; a project that is environmentally clean, runs on green energy, supports reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and creates prosperity in local communities,” Himmelright says.

The focus on mine recycling and collaboration with First Nation communities is proving to be a successful combination. Skeena Resources has grown significantly over the past year and the Eskay Creek Revitalization project is on track to reach commercial production by 2024.

Skeena believes that working with communities, supporting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, collaboration, partnership and innovation creates value for shareholders.

“Investing in our people is a huge part of our future. When you look across our organization, we have a young workforce that is socially aware and in tune with the realities of environmental standards of today.

Skeena Resources is featured in the 2021 Environmental Excellence in B.C. magazine.