PORT MCNEILL, B.C. – Plans are in the works to explore a potential new copper deposit on Northern Vancouver Island.

Northisle Copper and Gold Inc. has struck a joint deal with Freeport-McMoran Mineral Properties Canada Inc. in Northisle’s Pemberton Hills site.

Pemberton Hills is part of Northisle’s North Island Project, and is located west of Port Hardy.

It is in proximity to Northisle’s Hushamu and Red Dog copper-gold deposits, also located west of Port Hardy, according to a press release from the company.

The release states that Freeport has the option to earn up to 65 per cent interest by spending $24 million over seven years.

In regards to the project, reaction from elected officials has been positive.

“Any significant industrial and economic activity based on resource extraction, certainly we are familiar with that, but any economic driver on the North Island as a whole will be very welcome,” said Andrew Hory, Board Chair for the Regional District of Mount Waddington and Director for Area C.

“We’ve watched over the last few decades the population decline, and many people on the North Island still want to make it a viable way of life, but of course we need a certain degree of population density to make that possible.”

Hory said projects like this could be a major boost to the region.

“If another significant industrial player comes to the North Island and makes a go of running a sit, on a front line level, it would mean jobs and behind those jobs, it would mean collateral and economic activity, you would have families living up here, you’d have schools reinvigorated.”

He said the effects would be felt on the entire North Island.

“When the Port Alice Mill shut down, the effect were felt in Port Hardy, Port McNeill, really everywhere,” he said.

“If a company makes the viable jump from exploration and plausibility studies to actual extraction (of copper and gold), the impact would be very significant. We’ve seen a greater diversity in the North Island economy over the last 20 years.”

He said that although the reliance on logging and mining has “gone down”, they are still “extremely important players” to the economy.

“Any resurgence of that would have a very sustained and direct effect. Even if you had 20 jobs on the North Island at the moment, that might seem insignificant on one level, but the collateral effect of that is very high,” he said.

He said local officials are excited about the potential for growth on the North Island, but they do want to make sure the work is done safely.

“We’re interested in the way that things happen, we want to see environmentally sustainable practices and we want to see that nobody gets sick from the activities, but we’re very interested in working with all of the economic drivers on the North Island,” he said.

“It’s a very positive exchange most of the times, and there are occasionally times where it’s a bit more challenging but in general, I think we have been served very well by the industrial activity that’s gone on in the North Island.”

Further details on the Pemberton Hills project can be found through this link.