PRINCE GEORGE – All systems are go for the creation of the Blackwater Mine, expected to be the largest gold mine development project in the Cariboo in over a decade.
The provincial government has granted owner Artemis Gold Inc. its BC Mines Act Permit, the final step require to commence major construction activities in the first quarter of 2023, with the initial gold pour expected in the second quarter of 2024. The mine is 160 kilometres southwest of Prince George and holds over 10 million ounces of gold within its resources .
KPMG conducted an economic impact study on Blackwater in November, 2020 that shows the project could create 457 direct full-time jobs annually during the operating life of the mine, and 825 direct full-time jobs during construction. The mine is expected to contribute $13.2 billion to the provincial economy and $2.3 billion to provincial revenues during its tenure.
Blackwater has also been designed to some of the highest environmental standards and in accordance with proven best practices. Blackwater is to be connected to the BC Hydro grid, which is powered by hydroelectricity providing it with a sustainable source of renewable energy. This provides the foundation for Blackwater to be developed into one of the lowest greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emitting open pit mining operations in the world.
Artemis Gold has invested in a fully electrified process plant with all diesel and propane components replaced with electric equipment, further reducing the carbon footprint of the mine.
Artemis Gold Chairman and CEO Steven Dean states “We would like to thank the Government of British Columbia, the Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, Ulkatcho First Nation, and the Carrier Sekani First Nations for their substantial efforts during the consultation and review process for the BC Mines Act Permit. The approval of the BC Mines Act Permit is the culmination of a substantial amount of work completed by our team in collaboration with our First Nation partners and the provincial government.
“The Blackwater Mine has been designed to have one of the smallest carbon footprints for an open pit gold project in the world, with a defined path forward to substantially reduce that footprint further and potentially achieve net zero carbon emissions through the integration of a zero-exhaust-emission haul fleet by 2029,” he adds. “Blackwater also represents a generational opportunity to create employment and economic activity for our First Nation partners, each of their communities, and BC’s Nechako and Cariboo regions. This approval is further evidence that Blackwater meets world class standards for responsible mineral exploration and development in British Columbia.”
As part of the permitting process, Artemis Gold collaborated with the federal and provincial governments, Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, Ulkatcho First Nation, Carrier Sekani First Nations, and Nazko First Nation on the development of innovative and precedent-setting environmental management plans related to caribou habitat offsetting, fish habitat offsetting, wetlands offsetting and conservation and enhancement activities. The company has also received significant support and input from the District of Vanderhoof and other local communities in the project area.
The province signed an Economic and Community Development Agreement with the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations in 2020 to share mineral tax revenue. Artemis Gold has a project participation agreement with Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation and Ulkatcho First Nation, and a cooperation agreement with Nazko First Nation for the Blackwater Mine. Artemis Gold continues to develop relationships with other First Nations partners, including the Carrier Sekani First Nations.
“Ulkatcho First Nation has been involved in the development of the Blackwater Gold Project in earnest since 2015 throughout the environmental assessment process. Today we continue to work in collaboration with Artemis Gold Inc., Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, and both the federal and provincial governments to achieve the best mitigation results for all Canadians,” say Chief Lynda Price of Ulkatcho First Nation. “We are pleased to hear the major mines permit has been approved. A lot of hard work has been done by all parties involved.”
Artemis has been preparing to build a 477 room construction camp.
By Mark MacDonald