BHP explores copper exploration project in the high Arctic

Photo of an exploration camp that BHP says is representative of the ones it would use as part of the Camelot Project in the high Arctic. (BHP)

Project would explore copper potential in 6 vast areas during 2024, 2025 summer seasons

Mining company BHP is proposing an early-stage exploration program this summer across several vast areas on the Queen Elizabeth Islands in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The project aims to determine the potential for copper, and will span thousands of square kilometres in six locations collectively known as the Camelot Project.

Project locations include Ellesmere Island, which has a northern coast roughly 800 kilometres from the North Pole. Exploration work would also be done on Melville Island, Ellef Ringnes Island and Axel Heiberg Island.

The project area is known as the Sverdrup Basin, which contains sedimentary rocks that are between 70 and 300 million years old.

A spokesperson for BHP told CBC News in an email that field activity would include walking the land, photographing, note-taking and collecting samples that will not be bigger than a fist.

An image included in BHP’s project proposal submitted last month to the Environmental Impact Screening Committee shows geologists working in the field and taking notes. (BHP)

The global resources company says the region was identified as interesting through data analysis.

Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, says there doesn’t appear to be a lot of detailed geological mapping of the area to provide strong clues for potential deposits. He believes the company is likely getting a jump on exploration rather than waiting for government geoscience mapping to catch up — something which could take years.

“It will give them an advantage to understand the area’s geology,” Hoefer told CBC News in an email. “They may find something of interest that they can focus on in coming years.”

A BHP spokesperson told CBC News the company’s long-term focus is to find copper specifically for renewable energy purposes. According to the company, in the next 30 years the world will need two times more copper compared to the last 30 years, to support electrification, renewable energy infrastructure, battery storage, and EVs.

BHP hasn’t released details on the cost of the project.

The project is currently with the Nunavut Planning Commission for a conformity review. Concurrently, it’s also going through screening processes with the Environmental Impact Screening Committee (EISC) in the N.W.T.

The company previously operated the Ekati Diamond mine in the Northwest Territories from 1998 to until its sale in 2013.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Gladiator Metals gets permit to drill within Whitehorse city limits, CBC News

Norway: Norwegian government approves deep-sea mining: “Devastating” say eco-activists, The Independent Barents Observer

USA : Peltola flips script on long-running congressional drama over Arctic drilling, Alaska Public Media

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *