Gold mine gets go-ahead

The light keeps getting greener for this region's proposed gold mine.

The Blackwater Gold Project was granted an environmental assessment certificate by the provincial government, said the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) on Monday. The combination of B.C.'s Ministry of Mining and Ministry of Environment made the announcement.

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The plan to operate the mine was given the go-ahead based on 43 conditions that must be met.

"The conditions were developed in consideration of the issues raised by communities, the public, Indigenous groups and government agencies, and were collaboratively developed with Lhoosk'uz Den Nation (LDN), Ulkatcho First Nation (UFN), and the Carrier Sekani First Nations (Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, Saik'uz First Nation and Stellat'en First Nation)," said the two ministries in a joint statement. The Nazko First Nation was also part of the consultation process.

"Having considered the Environmental Assessment Office's (EAO) assessment report, submissions from Indigenous Nations and the recommendation of the EAO's executive director to issue a certificate, the ministers are confident that Blackwater will be built, operated and closed in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur."

The mine's area of interest is located about 110 km southwest of Vanderhoof. It has a designed footprint of about 4,400 hectares. Once it is operational, the claim is expected to yield about 60,000 tonnes of ore per day with a net annual production of 22 million tonnes per year during the 17 years the mine is expected to last.

New Gold estimates construction of the new mine would create 2,436 person years of direct employment in B.C. during the two-year construction period, with $1.29 billion in project expenditures in B.C., contributing $312 million to B.C.'s gross domestic product.

During operations, New Gold predicts that Blackwater would directly support 396 full-time equivalent jobs per year, with annual expenditures (excluding labour) of $161 million per year in B.C., directly contributing $258 million to B.C.'s GDP annually.

The 43 conditions that must be met include criteria like dust control, caribou monitoring, tailings dam safety transparency, noise mitigation, and much more. They are itemized on the EAO's website under the Projects heading.

New Gold must still obtain a number of permits from the federal and provincial government in order to move the Blackwater Gold Project ahead, but the environmental assessment certificate was considered the last remaining critical hurdle for the company.

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