Seabridge Gold, owner of world’s largest gold project in northern B.C., discovers another large, untested target

Toronto-based Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA)(NYSE:SA), the 100% owner of the massive KSM project in northern British Columbia—considered the world’s largest undeveloped gold-copper project by reserves—has just identified a large, untested target at another of its ventures in B.C.

The company said October 26 that exploration at its 100%-owned Iskut project, which shares geological similarities with KSM, has achieved its primary objective: identifying a prospective new porphyry copper-gold system.

The untested target, known as Quartz Rise, has all the hallmarks of a porphyry lithocap, a geological feature found at the top of major porphyry systems throughout the world, the company said.

The Toronto-based miner noted it expected to begin drill testing next year, adding that the samples it has already taken in the area contain visible gold.

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National Energy Board grants Pacific NorthWest LNG 40-year licence

Pacific NorthWest LNG has been granted a 40-year export licence from the National Energy Board

The licence will allow the company to export a maximum 34.62 billion cubic metres of natural gas annual from its proposed terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

The company had previously received approval for a maximum 25-year licence in March 2014, however, legislative amendments under the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act increased the maximum term to 40 years, the board said in its decision.

The new licence still needs governor-in-council approval, however, the NEB noted the gas Pacific NorthWest LNG is seeking to export is surplus to Canadian needs.

“The Board is satisfied that the natural gas resource base in Canada, as well as North America overall, is large and can accommodate reasonably foreseeable Canadian demand, including the natural gas exports proposed in this Application, and a plausible potential increase in demand,” the decision reads.

Atlantic Pacific Spaceline Enterprise Incorporated (APSE) sought the board to delay its decision for six months to allow time to consider the quantities of gas required for all proposed LNG projects in Canada should all exports proceed.

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Buoyant times for B.C. lodging operators and developers

Vancouver outshone much of Western Canada as a destination for travellers from the U.S. and elsewhere over the past year. Throw in investors, and it’s tough to figure out who doesn’t want to spend the night – or a few million – here.

“B.C. is well above the national average,” reported Carrie Russell, a partner and managing director of valuation and advisory firm HVS Canada, in Vancouver at the recent Western Canadian Lodging Conference. “The differences between how B.C. is performing relative to Saskatchewan and Alberta are like nothing I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been doing this.”

With strong demand from guests and little new supply from developers, downtown Vancouver hotels are exceeding expectations for revenue growth. Average daily rates rose from $201 a night to $221 a night over the past year. They’re set to stage a further rise to $235 a night in 2017. Underpinning this are occupancies in the range of 79%. (By comparison, occupancies in Calgary and Edmonton are hovering in the mid-50s, with average room rates below $150.)

The strength of the market has investors who are seeking a safe haven for capital putting their money into the local market. Among the most notable recent trades was Oxford Properties Group’s sale of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport to InnVest REIT, a deal that officially closed in September for $90 million.

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TransLink mega land deal details revealed

$450 million sale of Oakridge Transit Centre is 2016’s second-biggest public land deal in B.C.

TransLink has sold its Oakridge Transit Centre in Vancouver to a consortium of investors that includes Vancouver developer Intergulf and Richmond-based

Kunyuan International Group, a company linked to China-based investors.

A third party remains unconfirmed but is said to be Beijing-based Modern Green Development Co. Ltd., operating as Modern Investment Group.

The sale price for the 13.8-acre (5.6 hectare) site on West 41st Avenue is between $425 million and $450 million, sources have told Business in Vancouver.

TransLink has imposed a cone of silence on the transaction, despite the involvement of public-owned land.

“TransLink is bound by confidentiality provisions and is unable to provide further detail as to who the prospective buyer[s] is [are] or the contemplated transaction particulars,” said Chris Bryan, a TransLink media relations adviser.

The confidentially agreements are apparently iron clad. An agent with Cushman & Wakefield Commercial, the real estate agency that brokered the sale, said, “We can’t even talk about it in the office.”

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B.C. expected to lead country in economic growth in 2017: BMO

British Columbia is set to take top spot among the Canadian provinces for economic growth both this year and next, according to a BMO Financial Group report released October 6.

The province’s economy will grow by 3.0% this year, which is more than double the 1.2% growth expected nationally, BMO forecasts. In 2017, B.C.’s economy is forecast to grow a further 2.5%, compared with 2.0% nationally.

“This would continue a run of stable and solid growth averaging 2.8% over the past seven years,” BMO said in the report. “The province’s resource base is much more diverse (natural gas, base metals, forestry and little direct exposure to oil), housing has been roaring, while the combination of sturdy U.S. demand and a weaker Canadian dollar are a net positive for exports and tourism.”

The report points out that because B.C. is Canada’s biggest trading partner with Asia, slowing growth in China would hit this province the hardest.

The recently introduced foreign buyers tax is working to soften home sales, especially in the high-end sector, said Robert Kavcic, BMO senior economist.

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Towerbirch pipeline expansion gets conditional green light

A $439 million expansion of the Towerbirch natural gas pipeline and processing network in Northeast BC and Northwest Alberta has been approved by the National Energy Board (NEB) – sort of.

Nova Gas Transmission Ltd., a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP), received conditional approval from the NEB October 6. The NEB found the project to be in the public interest and recommends that the Governor in Council approve it.

But for natural resource projects in the Trudeau government era, approval by the NEB or Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is no longer enough.

A second layer of consultation will be required, in addition to the year-long review process that just took place.

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