Mining News

Mining advances in British Columbia

Posted by Cheryl Rutledge on 8/1/2014 3:04:57 PM

By Joshua Allsop and Kenneth Green

On June 30, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate to Seabridge Gold Incorporated (TSX:SEA) for the KSM project, a planned gold/copper mine approximately 65 km northwest of Stewart, in British Columbia. Project approval hinged on a number of requirements including selenium recovery, recycled water, aboriginal employment and mitigation of impact through design.

Promising to deliver significant value to the area and local population the mine is expected to produce 38.2 million ounces of gold and almost 5 billion kilograms of copper over the course of its 50 year life.

The outlook for mining growth is positive, with the Financial Post reporting that Canada has seen $7.1 billion in mining mergers and acquisitions over the first half of 2014, compared with $9.3 billion over all of 2013.

British Columbia’s mining industry contributes to the overall economy and output significantly. There are also indirect benefits through mining services, investment and the tax revenues. A recent survey demonstrated that despite falling commodity prices in 2012 gross mining revenues reported for 2012 were at $9,157m. In 2012 the industry directly employed 10,419 people with an average salary of $93,900. By 2013 the figure increased to 10,720 however wages dropped slightly to $91,900 from $98,200.

The project offers hope that First Nations will be able to agree to other extractive activities and infrastructure in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling strengthening their control over historic lands. The Fraser Institutes’ Ravina Bains recently reported on the Grassy Narrows decision and the implications.

Nisga’a Nation, signed an agreement with Seabridge earlier this year including financial payments, profit-sharing and commitments to train and employ members of the band. Gitxsan First Nation has also come out in support of the project; Seabridge says it hopes to sign an agreement with the Tahltan First Nation soon.

Interestingly, the project Environmental Effects Summary acknowledges environmental risks. The Summary stated that “the project has the potential to degrade surface water quality” in Sulphurets Creek and the Unuk River.  The main threat being selenium leakage into the water system. Plans to deal with the threat include relocating the tailings storage to a less environmentally sensitive area, and onsite water treatment facilities.

In a letter dated Sept. 4, the Gitxsan Treaty Society said they support the project, both due to the mine representatives’ “open, honest and transparent” interactions with the Gitxsan Nation, and the jobs and economic benefits they expect the mine to provide.

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