The $1.8 billion Blackwater Gold Project by New Gold Inc. got a thumbs up from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and can now proceed with obtaining any additional authorizations and permits from federal departments.
In an April 15 release, Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change said the proposed Blackwater Gold Project can proceed following a thorough and science-based environmental assessment process. The conclusion reached by the agency is that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, when mitigation measures are taken into account.
“The government of Canada is protecting the environment and growing the economy. By evaluating this project based on science and indigenous knowledge, and putting in place legally binding measures that will protect the environment, we are helping create economic growth and nearly 2,000 jobs for the community,” said McKenna.
The project consists of the construction, operation and closure of an open-pit gold and silver mine located 110 kms southwest of Vanderhoof, B.C. The Blackwater Gold Project sits on the traditional lands of the Ulkatcho (Anahim Lake) First Nation and Lhoosk’uz Dené (Kluskus) Nation.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency stated that this project could create up to 1,500 jobs during construction and 495 during operations over the life of the project, as per figures provided by New Gold Inc.
According to New Gold’s 2013 feasibility study, this project would produce 60,000 tonnes per day of gold and silver ore, for a mine life of 17 years.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gerry Thiessen of Vanderhoof said: “This is great news for Vanderhoof as we look for opportunities to diversify our economy and keeping our commitment to protect our environment. New Gold appears to have been very open and progressive in balancing these two priorities.
“This is one step in the process of seeing construction on the Blackwater mine site going ahead and is a very important step on the road to success,” he added.
The minister’s decision established 172 conditions that New Gold Inc. must fulfill throughout the life of the project.
These conditions as per the April 15 release, will reduce or eliminate the potential effects on the environment and include measures to protect wetlands fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, the current use of lands and resources by Indigenous Peoples, physical and cultural heritage and structures, wildlife and species at risk.
Val Erickson, community relations advisor for New Gold Inc. said the approval is good news for the Blackwater project.
“The positive decision marks the conclusion of the project’s federal environmental assessment, a very significant milestone for the project. As for next steps, New Gold is awaiting decision from the province of British Columbia regarding the provincial environmental assessment. New Gold is also reviewing ways to optimize the project, including re-evaluating project sizing and processing options,” she said.