Feds approve northwestern B.C. gold/copper mine

The Seabridge project has a forecast life of more than 50 years

THE FEDERAL government has given its environmental approval to a proposed $5.3 billion gold mine north of here.

But proponent Seabridge Gold will also have to undertake a series of environmental protection and other measures for its Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell open pit and underground copper, gold, silver and molybdendum project which would process up to 130,000 tonnes a day of material and have a life span of more than 50 years.

Federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq, in giving her approval, also signed off under the Nisga’a Final Agreement because of the project’s impacts on the Nisga’a lands and people.

Provincial approval for the project was provided by the provincial government in the summer.

“The project is not likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects,” said Aglukkaq in a statement, provided mitigation steps outlined in a study of the project are followed.

“I have determined that the project can reasonably be expected to result in adverse, but not significant, environmental effects on residents of Nisga’a Lands, Nisga’a Lands, or Nisga’a interests related to fish, wildlife and migratory birds,” she added.

The project has been accepted by the Nisga’a Lisims Government as well as the Tahltan, Gitxsan, Gitanyow and Skii km Lax Ha First Nations.

Seabridge has already negotiated economic agreements with First Nations, providing the basis for employment and business opportunities.

Among the measures required of Seabridge are establishing water quality systems and a spill prevention and emergency response plan.

The company, as is the case with others companies operating in the area, is to help finance programs to support the recovery of the Nass moose population and to address effects related to the growth of traffic along the Highway 37 and 37A corridors.

The company is forecasting a five-year construction period with 1,800 direct jobs and 4,770 indirect jobs across Canada and 1,040 direct jobs once the mine is in operation.

Seabridge still needs to come up with financing for the project and has been positioning itself as a junior resource company looking for a senior partner with very deep pockets.

It’s already spent more than $100 million on project development and environmental work.

The project also stands to be the second mine to connect to BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line, the first being the Red Chris mine owned by Imperial Metals.

Waste rock storage dumps, an ore grinding circuit, water storage facility, water treatment plant, selenium treatment plant, several small hydroelectric projects, diversion tunnels, access roads, camp facilities, explosives factory and magazine, and supporting infrastructure would also be located at the mine site.

A pair of 23 kilometre long tunnels would allow the transportation of crushed ore to a concentrator plant and tailings management facility located in the Treaty and Teigen Creek drainages of the Bell-Irving River.

The project is located approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Stewart, BC.

Supplies would be trucked in and ore concentrate trucked out through an access road connecting to Hwy37 North.