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 near all-time highs. These factors have led mining companies from around the world to target low-grade deposits, such as are found here in Clayoquot Sound.
In 2009 Imperial Metals, a Vancouver-based mining company, bought the mining rights to Catface Mountain, in Ahousaht First Nations territory, from Selkirk Metals. Catface (or Chitaapi in the Nuu-chah-nulth language) is a prominent landmark in the heart of Clayoquot Sound and contains low-grade copper-molybdenum ore. It is just 10 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 hawiiḥ (hereditary chiefs) 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 has also been exploring the possibility of re-opening the old Fandora gold mine in Tranquil River valley in Tla-o-qui-aht territory. They have not consulted with the Tla-o-qui-aht, who are opposed to mining in their homelands.