Vanderhoof — The Nechako Lakes region can expect to hear more from New Gold (NG) on their proposed Blackwater (BW) project as it moves forward with exploration this May.
The gold mine’s original construction start date was set for 2015, but has since been moved to a tentative start for 2017.
“We’re still very active in the area through exploration and moving forward with our permitting. We’re just at the part people don’t always see what we’re doing but we’re here,” said Claudette Gouger, community manager.
The BW mine site, located 110 km south east of Vanderhoof, sits within New Gold’s 1,100 km squared mineral tenure. Its gold deposit was discovered in the 70’s and purchased by New Gold in 2011. During 2012, New Gold mapped out the mineral deposit and started sample drilling. Their 2015 exploration budget is $17 million for all projects, Blackwater being the second largest portion at approximately 25 per cent. Once developed, the BW project will produce more gold than all other New Gold operations combined.
The project could enter the public comment stage as early as April 2015 as they continue to work on permitting, environmental assessment and consultations with the community and First Nations.
“The opportunity is coming very soon for people to come to our open houses, provide comments and ask questions. People of Vanderhoof have been incredibly supportive and we’re going to be looking for continued support as we move to the public comment period,” Gouger said.
Surface exploration is planned for May and June to help narrow down areas to drill; which could be up to 4,000 meters in various locations. Last year’s exploration discovered a number of promising areas with traces of different minerals close to the BW site that will also be explored further this summer.
“Blackwater is large but it’s not the main deposit. Sometimes finding other minerals such as copper and moly could mean more gold,” Gouger said.
New Gold has invested approximately $240 million into the BW project to date and has a large commitment to hire a local workforce. In 2013, 65 per cent of its employees were hired from the local region, 23 per cent being of aboriginal decent. New Gold’s projection is that the operation will need 1,500 workers for construction and 500 for operations.
The site itself, its road and proposed transmission line all intersect with a number of traditional territories in the area.
“We’re continuing with our environmental assessment, community engagement and consultations with First Nations as we get ready for our regional exploration program sessions for summer 2015. People can come into our office for updates any time, for future business employment or contracting or just for information,” Gouger said.
New Gold presented to Vanderhoof council at the Feb. 23 meeting and will present at the Fort St. James council March 25 at 7:30pm and Fraser Lake council March 11 at 5:30. They will also have a booth at the Chamber of Commerce Trades Show May 1-2, all are welcome to attend. New Gold’s Vanderhoof office is located on 1st Street and is open Monday to Friday 8-4:30. For more information visit or call the office at 250-567-9271.