The environmental assessment of the proposed Red Mountain Underground Gold Project near Stewart has received the federal government’s approval.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced in a written press statement on Jan. 14 that the project, which is also subject to requirements under the Nisga’a Final Agreement, is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects as it must adhere to more than 120 conditions aimed to minimize or eliminate any damage.
“The Government of Canada is committed to conducting environmental assessments that ensure the protection of our environment, foster economic growth and create good middle-class jobs,” said McKenna in the press release.
“We are confident that with the mitigation measures in place and the legally-binding conditions the proponent must fulfill, this project will move forward in a way that supports sustainable development.”
The Red Mountain Project, owned by IDM Mining Ltd., is a 17,125-hectare underground gold-silver mine located in the so-called Golden Triangle, approximately 15 km northeast of Stewart, within Nisga’a traditional territory.
A project recommendation and an environmental assessment report have been issued, whereas measures must be taken to protect fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, species at risk, human health, physical and cultural heritage, and the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Indigenous peoples.
In an email, Karen Fish, a spokesperson from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency told the Terrace Standard, that the Nisga’a Final Agreement pertaining to the Nass Area and Nass Wildlife Area were featured prominently in discussions leading up to the environmental approval.
“The Agency consulted with Nisga’a Nation throughout the environmental assessment. The Minister’s Decision Statement requires the proponent to consult with Nisga’a Nation in the development and implementation of mitigation measures, follow-up programs, and annual reports.”
Eva Clayton, President of the Nisga’a Lisims Government (NLG), said in an email that they worked very closely with IDM Mining Ltd. and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on the assessment of the project under Chapter 10 of the Nisga’a Final Agreement. She added that the conditions are a result of this close collaboration and that the agreements were in respect of the potential impacts on their treaty rights and interests.
“The Nass Area covered by the Treaty is rich with natural resources. NLG is confident that the decision and conditions will provide significant opportunities for our citizens, with strong protection of the land, water and wildlife. NLG looks forward to working with IDM through the remaining regulatory process and into the construction and operation phases of the project,” said Clayton.
The environmental assessment commenced on Nov. 15, 2015, and was officially concluded on Jan. 14, 2019.
The mine is expected to have a life of six years and provide approximately 200 jobs, with a year-round production rate of 1,000 tonnes of ore per day. The project will also include the constructions of a temporary waste rock storage area, water management structures, access and haul roads, and a powerline.
The estimated capital cost is $135 million. It will take about 18 months to build the mine and bring it into production.
The province issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate for the project to IDM Mining on Oct. 15, 2018, under the BC Environmental Assessment Act.
This recent announcement will now allow the company to proceed to their regulatory phase.