Island Copper Mine, Rupert Inlet

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Island Copper Mine, Rupert Inlet

by | Apr 19, 2020

Island Copper was an open pit mine located at the northern end of Vancouver Island on Rupert Inlet at the head of Quatsino Sound, about 4.6 miles (7.4 km) east of Coal Harbour and 8.5 miles (14 km) south of Port Hardy, British Columbia. Quatsino Sound is a complex of coastal inlets, bays, and islands and is the northernmost of five sounds on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the others being Kyuquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot Sound, and Barclay Sound.

Quatsino Sound extends east from the Pacific Ocean and branches into several smaller inlets. Near the entrance, Forward Inlet extends north and branches into several smaller inlets including Winter Harbour. Koskimo Bay and Koprino Harbour are located farther east in Quatsino Sound, and Drake Island is near the eastern end. Neroutsos Inlet extends southeast from Drake Island and the town of Port Alice lies near the end of the inlet. East of Drake Island, Quatsino Narrows is a tidal rapids that connects the eastern end of Quatsino Sound to Holberg Inlet and the smaller Rupert Inlet.

Island Copper Mine is on the northern shore of Rupert Inlet. At its peak operating capacity the mine employed almost 1,000 people. The mine produced approximately 30,000 tons of ore monthly containing 27 percent copper. Other minerals extracted included molybdenum, gold, silver and rhenium. The bottom of the pit was 1320 feet (402 m) deep (below sea level) at the end of the mine’s life. At the time, this was the lowest point on earth replacing the former lowest point which was adjacent to the Dead Sea. The tailings from the mine were discharged into Rupert Inlet. The mine was particularly close to the ocean and this required the construction of a large wall to maintain the safety of the pit. The pit was flooded at the conclusion of mining in 1996. Read more here and here. See a video of the mine prior to flooding here. Explore more of Rupert Inlet here:

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