The Kemess Underground project, a proposed underground copper-gold mine located approximately 250 km north of Smithers, has received its environmental assessment certificate.
According to John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, the mine – which is owned by AuRico Metals Inc. – is expected to create between 600 and 800 jobs.
Rustad said First Nations in the area have already expressed full support of the project going forward.
“They [AuRico Metals Inc.] have financing in place and they have now signed benefit agreements with First Nations in the area,” said Rustad. “It’ll take about five years to build the project, but it will have solid mine life.”
The $683.9-million project is expected to produce approximately 24,650 tonnes of ore per day over a 13-year period. The project is approximately six kilometres north of the existing infrastructure from the Kemess South mine that operated from 1998 to 2011. In total, there is approximately $1 billion worth of existing infrastructure in place.
Ore would be transported by conveyor to the existing processing facilities, with concentrate transported to a wholly-owned concentrate load-out facility located in Mackenzie, British Columbia.
In 2007, a project called Kemess North, which was then proposed by Northgate Minerals, was denied approval by a joint federal-provincial panel.
“The Kemess North project was killed, but the project is back on the books now [as the Kemess Underground project], taken over by AuRico,” explained Rustad.
The B.C. government conducted the environmental assessment of the Kemess Underground project on behalf of both the federal and provincial governments. There are 33 conditions that are part of the environmental assessment certificate. Conditions include monitoring surface water and groundwater quality, as well as developing a wildlife management and monitoring plan to address effects on caribou, birds, bats and alpine species.
Chris Richter, President and CEO of AuRico, said the environmental assessment certificate is a culmination of a comprehensive process which began in 2014.
“The Kemess Underground project presents an attractive development opportunity given its strong economics, supported by existing infrastructure, large scale, good jurisdiction, and advanced stage,” he said. “The environmental approval represents a significant milestone for the project, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue to advance the project to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
As a next step, AuRico Metals is required to obtain the appropriate regulatory authorizations and permits which are expected to be received early in 2018.
AuRico Metals is a mining development and royalty company with a 100 per cent interest in the Kemess property.