The Province

Friday, January 24, 1992

By: John Colebourn

BOOM TO BUST

Cassiar Residents have experienced the highs and lows of the international commodity markets. Their town, 100 km south of the Yukon border, was spawned in 1953 when an open-pit asbestos mine was launched as a seasonal operation, using only 10 trucks to cart the ore. From the enthusiasm and opportunity, Cassiar's 1,100 residents now ponder their very future. By the time the open-pit mine closed in November 1990 when its reserves ran out, it had produced $1.4 billion worth of asbestos. Cassiar Mining Corp., a subsidiary  of Princeton Mining Corp., launched an underground mine with enough reserve for a decade. But despite those vast resources, the move underground proved to be the mine's undoing. The costly $67 million move ran $14 million over budget, which the company says is the cause of its current financial woes. The province's government already has a heavy investment in the mine. It pumped in $25 million in start-up costs when the underground mine opened in November 1990.

Contributed by Simone Rowlinson

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