Picture is of one of Hi Test Sand's quarries.

Silica company chooses Washington site over Golden

Higher labour costs and electricity rates top the reasons for the Canadian company choosing the Washington site over Golden.

Golden has been awaiting a decision from silica mining company Hi Test Sand for months, regarding the possibility of a processing plant that would bring more than 150 jobs into the community.

Golden was not chosen as the site, with the Canadian company instead opting to go with Newport Washington to open the processing plant.

“We have made our decision, and unfortunately due to the higher labour costs, and especially the higher power prices in B.C., we went with Newport, Washington,” said John Carlson, Vice President of Hi Test Sand.

The decision came as a great disappointment to local politicians who have been working with the company for years, trying to sell Golden as the right community for this project.

“This would have been an amazing thing for our community. This is not the outcome we were hoping for,” said Karen Cathcart, Area A Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).

The site for the plant would have been south of town, however that will remain the site for the extraction of the silica that will serve the plant in Washington.

“We will still be extracting Silica from the Golden site, and sending it down to Washington via railway,” said Carlson. The mine site is currently being cleared, and Carlson said the $15-million project will employ about 10 to 15 people.

“This isn’t the decision we wanted to make. We’re all Canadian, our share-holders are Canadian. We tried really hard to make Golden our prime site, but the magnitude of the cost difference was just too great.”

The mine site will be extracting roughly 150,000 tonnes a year of silica, however their permit allows for up to 800,000 tonnes a year, making what Carlson describes as a relatively small mining operation. The company anticipates a minimum of 20 years mining at that site.

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm McDonald was also disappointed to hear about the final decision.

“It’s unfortunate it went this way. Once again Canadian resources are being extracted and leaving the country, and that’s something we as government need to be aware of,” he said.

“This happens to us way too often in British Columbia,” added Cathcart.

Although Hi Test Sand had strong communication with local politicians during this process, both McDonald and Cathcart say they wished the company had been more transparent with the community, and had undertaken an engagement process.

“A lot of rumours were going around, and I wish they had been a little more open with the community. A lot of people were forming opinions on misinformation. Some engagement from the company would have been great,” said Cathcart. “These would have been 150 clean jobs. It would have been a transformative opportunity for Golden, I’m just so disappointed.”

Having said that, Hi Test Sand will still be operating within the community, and the relationship still remains strong.

“I would like to say that a big thank you is due to Mayor Ron Oszust, former Mayor Christina Benty and Karen Cathcart. They were great ambassadors for the community, and went above and beyond what is expected of a politician. They did absolutely everything they could to make this happen, unfortunately it just came down to the economics,” said Carlson.

Editor’s Note: The print edition of The Golden Star contains a mistake. Due to a miscommunication the name of the Washington site says Addy, but the company in fact went with Newport, Washington. It states the Golden area mining site is near Canyon Creek Road. It should say Horse Creek Road. We apologize for the error.