Thursday, February 16, 2012

Canadian miners plan to drill Mount St. Helens for copper

A Canadian company wants to continue test drilling for copper and other minerals near Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington, but environmentalists worry the move could open the door to mine development near a national monument.

A subsidiary of Vancouver, B.C.-based Ascot Resources is seeking permits from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to drill 63 small holes on federal forest land mostly within the blast zone of the 1980 volcanic eruption. The company wants to explore both private and public mineral estates.

The area is rich in copper but the company won't know that until it explores, said Robert Evans, Ascot's chief financial officer. It's too early to know whether the company would move forward with a mine, he added.

"Until you've got the results, you don't know if you've got an economically viable deposit," said Evans. "You don't know how you're going to proceed. We're just trying to find out some facts."
BLM is evaluating the company's plans and is holding public meetings Wednesday and Thursday to decide what should be included in an environmental assessment.

Ascot is seeking two prospecting permits to drill on forest land near Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, which draws thousands of visitors and recreationists each year.

If all goes well, Evans said, the company hoped to be in the field by mid-September. Read More