In the mid and late 1900s, exploration companies were actively looking for minerals in Clayoquot Sound, but it was commonly thought that the mineral deposits discovered were not likely to ever be developed.
Times have changed. Globally, many of the good ore deposits have been mined out, while the commodity prices of gold and copper are fluctuating near all-time highs. These factors have led mining companies from around the world to target low-grade deposits, such as are found in Clayoquot Sound.
Currently there are two potential mines of concern in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: Catface copper and Fandora gold. In 2009 Imperial Metals, a Vancouver-based mining company, bought Selkirk Metals and the mining rights to both these mineral properties.
Fandora gold in Tranquil Valley
Fandora is a deactivated mine site located in Tranquil Valley in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation traditional territory. Imperial Metals has an exploratory drilling permit to assess opening up a gold mine on the 44-square-kilometre tenure.
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations have developed a Tribal Parks management plan for the valley that outlines a sustainable development alternative to mining and are calling for a mining moratorium for all their territories. But inadequate consultation by government and industry has lead to a continued threat of mining at Fandora.
Catface Mountain copper
Catface Mountain (or Chitaapi in the Nuu-chah-nulth language) stands in Ahousaht First Nations territory, is a prominent landmark in the heart of Clayoquot Sound and contains low-grade copper-molybdenum ore. It is just 13 km away (and visible) from Tofino, and only 3 km away from the village of Ahousat.
Imperial Metals conducted test drilling in 2010 (and Selkirk in 2008), with permission from the Ahousaht band council, to explore the potential for an open-pit copper mine. Imperial has been quiet since then as to its plans for Catface, but is currently busy opening other contentious mines, such as the copper-gold Red Chris mine in the Tahltan Nation’s territory, in the Sacred Headwaters of northern British Columbia. Imperial is also dealing with the aftermath of the August 2014 spill of toxic tailings-pond sludge at its Mount Polley mine in central BC — the largest mine spill in Canadian history (25 million cubic metres).
» Continue on to Mine Free Threats.