Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Pretium Resources Inc. for the Brucejack gold mine, located approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Stewart.
The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office, which was conducted in a manner that is reflective of the treaty relationship between British Columbia and the Nisga’a Lisims Government.
The Brucejack project is an underground gold and silver mine, with an estimated capital cost of $450 million, that would create 500 jobs during the two-year construction period and 300 jobs during a minimum 16-year operating life. It would produce up to 2,700 tonnes of ore per day.
The Brucejack mine will not have a tailings management facility with a dam. Tailings will be stored underground in spent mine workings and in Brucejack Lake. This reflects best-available technology as recommended by the independent panel that investigated the Mount Polley failure. In its report, the panel noted that the most direct way to eliminate tailings dam failures is to store the majority of tailings below ground.
The ministers issued the certificate with 15 legally enforceable conditions that have given them the confidence to conclude that the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that ensures no significant adverse effects are likely to occur.
Additional information is required to determine the significance of effects on water quality and the effectiveness of the proposed water treatment plants. To avoid significant adverse effects to the Unuk River and the environment at the mine site, certificate conditions require Pretium Resources to provide the necessary additional information prior to construction.
The project will move forward to construction only when, and if, regulators are satisfied that discharges will comply with provincial requirements and therefore will not cause significant adverse effects downstream from the mine and to the Unuk River.
The certificate conditions were developed following consultation and input from Aboriginal groups, government agencies, including the State of Alaska, communities and the public.
The project will require various federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed. The Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts with other government agencies to ensure that the office is satisfied that certificate conditions are met.