Flavio NienowLakes District News
New Gold’s Blackwater Project, a proposed open pit gold and silver mine approximately 110 km southwest of Vanderhoof, has paused its environmental assessment process.
According to Claudette Gouger, Blackwater Project’s community manager, the reason for the temporary suspension was to allow First Nations, local governments and key regulatory agencies time to review project changes made by New Gold.
“The project changes were made in response to comments from First Nations, government and other stakeholders,” explained Gouger.
The changes include the inclusion of a water treatment plant, which will facilitate water recycling and enhanced control of water, as well as the elimination of a waste rock dump. Gouger said the elimination of the waste rock dump – from two piles to one – allows for a smaller footprint, less diversion of natural catchment runoff and overall impact of the mine. “New Gold believes these enhancements to our design ultimately make this a better project,” she said.
The temporary suspension of the environmental process is not expected to affect the project’s overall timeline. Construction on the project is still expected to begin in 2018.
Once developed, the proposed mine is expected to produce more gold than all other New Gold operations combined.
Gouger said the mine will hire from 1000 to 1500 people during construction – from 2018 to 2020. In addition, 500 full-time workers are expected to operate the mine from 2020 to 2037.
The Blackwater Project’s original construction start date was 2015, but has since been moved to 2018. Gouger said the delay was because New Gold plans to complete its fifth mine – the Rainy River Project – before construction on the Blackwater Project can begin.
“Timing of construction for the Blackwater Project will be influenced by market conditions and the development of New Gold’s fifth mine, the Rainy River Project in Ontario,” she explained. “Construction on Rainy River is over 45 per cent complete and on schedule for its targeted start up in mid-2017.”
Although construction on the Blackwater Project is expected to start in 2018, pre-construction activities such as engineering of the road and transmission line could occur in 2017.
“When we move into construction, we will be holding information sessions and hiring fairs because of the volume of people we’re going to need.”
People interested in working for New Gold can upload their resume on their website www.newgold.com. Resumes are kept on file for six months.