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Northern B.C. gold mine gets provincial approval after 7 years of consideration

Artemis Gold Thursday (March 9) received approval for its Blackwater Mine project
Artemis Gold has received provincial approval for its open-pit Gold mine some 112 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof (Photo Courtesy of Artemis Gold)

Provincial approval for a new a gold mine is northern British Columbia is generating bipartisan support and promises to pump billions into the economy.

On Thursday (March 9), Artemis Gold received approval for its Blackwater Mine project located 112 kilometres southwest of Vanderhoof.

The open pit mine described as the largest gold mine project in B.C.’s Cariboo region in more than a decade promises to create 825 direct full-time jobs per year during construction and 450 full-time jobs per year during its 22-year operating life.

According to estimates, the mine will contribute $13.2 billion to the provincial economy during its lifetime, including $2.3 billion in provincial revenue.

Energy Minister Jodie Osborne said British Columbians will benefit from hundreds of new jobs.

“Artemis Gold has designed a world-class mine that brings First Nations in as partners in training, business development and employment, helps to meet provincial climate targets with the use of sustainable, clean electricity, and generates significant economic activity in the local region,” she said.

BC Liberal Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North, called approval of the mine “wonderful news” in a tweet.

“The Blackwater Mine moves forward, creating jobs and economic opportunities in the Cariboo,” Oakes said.

Authorities have been considering the project since 2015 and provincial approval could take some wind out of the sails of critics, who say the Premier David Eby’s government has not done enough for the resource sector and northern B.C. generally.

Construction is expected to start during the first quarter of 2023 with the first gold anticipated to be poured in the second quarter of 2024.

The project was the subject of extensive consultations with provincial and federal authorities. Four First Nations — -Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation, Ulkatcho First Nation, Carrier Sekani First Nations and Nazko First Nation — also participated in various ways.

B.C. had 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 also continues to develop relationships with other First Nations partners, including the Carrier Sekani First Nations.

The project will draw hydro-electrical power from BC Hydro and Artemis Gold has invested in a fully electrified process plant with all diesel and propane components replaced with electric equipment. Artemis Gold has also signed an agreement with Caterpillar, which could see the replacement of the company’s diesel-fueled haul fleet with a zero-exhaust-emission fleet by 2029.

Artemis Gold Chairman and CEO Steven Dean called approval “culmination of a substantial amount of work” by his company in collaboration with First Nations 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,” Dean said.

RELATED: ‘Latte-sipping urbanites’ need to realize value of mining in B.C., association head says


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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