The federal government decided last month that an environmental assessment (EA) of the Blackwater Project is required.
After consulting with the public on the potential environmental effects of the project, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) determined on Dec. 21, 2012, that the proposed gold-and-silver mine must undergo a federal EA.
As a result, the second of four opportunities for Canadians to comment on the project is now happening until Sunday, Jan. 20.
According to the CEAA, an EA will promote sustainable development and help to ensure the Blackwater mine is developed in a careful manner to avoid, or reduce, adverse effects on the surrounding environment.
Key principles of the federal EA process is to engage First Nations and hold public consultations with communities most affected by the project.
“The agency invites the public to comment on which aspects of the environment may be affected by this project and what should be examined during the environmental assessment,” the CEAA said in a news release on Dec. 21, 2012.
Before the EA process can begin, New Gold, the project’s owner, must submit to the federal government an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a document summarizing the project and the potential environmental effects that may arise from mining operations, along with corresponding mitigation strategies.
New Gold’s EIS will be based on more than 30 pages of federal guidelines, which have been made available to the public in draft form for comment and review until Sunday, Jan. 30.
Afterward, the CEAA will evaluate public input and adjust the EIS guidelines accordingly.
Once the guidelines are finalized, they will be forwarded to New Gold so the company can develop an EIS, trigerring the EA process.
“As New Gold moves through the environmental assessment process, we recognize that our growth and success depend on the long-term economic, social and environmental sustainability of each of the communities in which we live and work,” Kathie LaForge, community manager for New Gold, said in a news release on Dec. 21, 2012.
“We understand that our activities have a direct effect on our employees, the environment and local communities.”
An EA is required by the CEAA before New Gold can start building the Blackwater mine, an undertaking that will require between 1,000 to 1,500 workers, the company estimates.
In November 2012, shortly after New Gold filed a 145-page project description with the Environmental Assessment Office, the provincial government commenced an EA of the Blackwater Project.
The project description analyzed potential adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects associated with the project that were determined by qualified professionals who carried out studies, field surveys and other research at New Gold’s request.
Regarding the federal EA, written comments can be submitted to the CEAA until Jan. 20, 2013:
Blackwater Gold Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
410 – 701 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6