Deal signed to take over Cassiar asbestos deposit

OMINOUS SIGN in front of the Cassiar asbestos pile may soon be replaced by one containing a different Ad of message. Three companies have formed a joint venture and it has purchased the pile and former townsite. The joint venture wants to use a reclamation process to recover fibre from the tailings pile. Work has already started at the location.

JUST OVER two year after the Cassiar asbestos mine went into receivership and its workers began move out, three companies have signed a deal to return. This time two Australian firms and one Canadian company have formed a partnership to process the mine's gigantic tailings pile in expectation of recovering enough asbestos fibre to make a profit. They've paid $184,040 to receiver Arthur Anderson and Company and will pay a further royalty depending upon the amount recovered. The money will go to paying the, creditors of Cassiar Mining Corporation, chief of which is the provincial government. Arthur Andersen official Gerry Zuk said the partnership, by purchasing what's left of Cassiar, will also take over responsibility for turning back to nature the now abandoned and stripped Cassiar townsite.

That's a benefit because the province would otherwise have to cover the estimated $5 million to $7 million reclamation cost, he said. The joint venture, to be called B.C. Chrysotile Corp., will also post a $500,000 reclamation bond with the provincial government. And it'll also pay the province another royalty for asbestos recovered.

The three companies made the purchase by exercising an option taken out the middle of last year. That gave them the right to examine in more detail the tailings pond [pile]. B.C. Chrysotile will used what's called a wet process to recover asbestos from the pile. The process is being used successfully in other parts of the world.

The tailings pile is the result of 40 yeas of mining by the now defunct corporation and contains 16 million tonnes of material. There are some contaminated soils in the townsite and these will also be cleaned up.

Mines ministry reclamation official John Errington said he expects the company to be back in Cassiar as soon as possible to begin work. "I know they've winterized one of the (former Cassiar mine) mill buildings," he said. Errington added that B.C. Chrysotile will first have to circulate some of the first fibre it produces in order to get an idea of its market acceptance and value.

Cassiar Corporation went into receivership in February 1992 after the provincial government refused to loan it additional money. The province is the largest creditor of the corporation, accumulating direct and indirect costs of nearly $50 million since the mine closed.

An official from Minpro, one of the Australian companies, said last year that a successful project will result in asbestos being trucked to Stewart for loading onto ships.

From newspaper clipping, no date or identification. Obviously post Feb. 1992.

This page was last edited Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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