While still in early stages, a company is proposing to build a sand mine north of Prince George about 10 kilometres east of Bear Lake.
Scott Broughton, president and CEO of Vitreo Minerals Ltd. which is based in Moberly near Golden B.C., attended the November Regional District of Fraser Fort George (RDFFG) meeting to give an update on what is known as the Angus Project.
The project is currently the focus of environmental baseline studies but the company has submitted and successfully received approval for its initial project description with the Environmental Assessment Office.
“The intent here is to develop a quarry and make proppant sands that would be sold into the Montney oil and gas basin,” said Broughton.
Proppant, often called frac sand, is used in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to prop open the fractures that are created during crude oil and natural gas extraction.
“It is essentially a quarry that would mine these special rocks that are known as quartz arenites, which is like a very strong sandstone. They occur in abundance on the project area, but they come from this one specific area we call Monkman.”
He said they propose to build a quarry there which would involve drilling, and blasting the rock and then that material would be moved to a raw sand plant.
“It’s very simple processing. There’s no chemistry. There’s no heat. There is nothing nasty. This is just a physical process, and it will look a lot like a conventional sand and gravel operation to many people.”
The material would then be moved along an existing Forest Service Road to a finishing site closer to the highway and railway where it would be dried and ready to be sold.
“We see a large and looming demand for that material. Right now, it’s being imported all the way from Wisconsin so you can imagine the cost and greenhouse gas impact of that delivery,” said Broughton.
“We seek to be a local supplier of this important and valuable material.”
He said there is a fairly vast resource potential at the site which has more than enough material for a 20-year mine life and said the company is excited about the proximity of the site to the services and suppliers in Prince George.
“We see great opportunities for a workforce from Prince George and locally from Bear Lake, McLeod Lake and others. We imagine people could readily commute to job opportunities here.”
He said the company is still doing an extensive environmental baseline assessment program and needs further permitting to move forward.
He said early next year they will be submitting a detailed project description, which will include changes from the initial project description based on the comments received from Indigenous nations and the community.
The company hopes to have all the required permits in place by the end of 2025, which would lead to a final investment decision to build.
Broughton said pre-feasibility cost estimates for capital are about $300 million to build this mine and the two processing plants.
“In terms of jobs there’s about 150 jobs during construction and about 150 jobs during the mine operation itself to get product to the finishing plant,” he added.
Broughton said he sees the market in the Montney basin of B.C. and Alberta being a $2 billion a year business for the next 40 years of LNG production.