The B.C. government has given a green light to the Blackwater gold mine project in the Cariboo region with the issuing of an early works mine permit.
The permit allows for site preparation and land-clearing.
"Advancing the Blackwater Gold project will help unearth the massive economic potential in B.C.'s Cariboo region," Premier John Horgan said in a press release.
With an estimated capital cost of $1.8 billion, the Blackwater mine, owned by Artemis Gold Inc. (TSX-V:ARTG), is said to be the largest mine project proposed for Cariboo in the last decade. Artemis acquired the development project from New Gold Inc. (TSX:NGD) last year for $210 million.
The open-pit gold-silver mine would be built 160 kilometres southwest of Prince George. Blackwater's production estimates are 60,000 tonnes of gold and silver ore per day and a mine life of 17 years.
In May, Michael Goehring, president of the Mining Association of BC, said the Blackwater project was one of seven proposed new mines in B.C.
“That project will boost the economy of B.C.’s central interior at a time when it desperately needs a boost,” he said. “With this one mine, we’re talking 825 construction jobs for two years and up to 457 new jobs that will be created during operations.”
He added revenue sharing agreements with local First Nations would provide them with $200 million in benefits from the Blackwater mine.
An economic impact study completed by KPMG on the Blackwater project estimated the mine will add $13.2 billion to the provincial economy over its lifetime, including $2.3 billion to provincial revenues. The mine will be connected to the BC Hydro grid, making for a lower emissions intensity.
The company has benefits agreements with the Lhoosk'uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations, and the province has an agreement with the Ulkatcho that will share mineral tax revenue with the First Nation.
“While we are in favour of the mine due to its economic benefits, as the traditional stewards of our land, our top priority is the environment,” said Ulkatcho Chief Lynda Price. “We look forward to working through the full permitting of the mine to ensure that the impacts to our nation are properly mitigated so that all wildlife species, such as caribou, are protected, as they are so vital to our culture.”
"As partners with Artemis, we are excited about the employment, economic and business opportunities available to our nation,” said Liliane Squinas, chief of the Lhoosk'uz Dené Nation. “We look forward to strengthening our relationship as we work through the rest of the permitting process, ensuring that the environmental commitments are met."
-- With files from Hayley Woodin