Premier John Horgan believes advancing the Blackwater Gold Project will help unearth the massive economic potential in B.C.’s Cariboo region.
The province announced Thursday, July 15, the approval of an early works permit for the open-pit gold and silver mine southwest of Vanderhoof.
The permit is the first step required for mine construction, allowing for the necessary site preparation and land clearing work to begin, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said in a news release.
Artemis Gold’s Blackwater Gold Mine is estimated to be the largest mine development project in the Cariboo in the last decade. A November 2020 economic impact study forecast the project would create 457 direct full-time jobs over the 23-year operating life of the mine, with 825 direct full-time jobs per year created during the construction/expansion phases of mine development.
“Additionally, the mine is expected to contribute $13.2 billion to the provincial economy over its lifetime, including $2.3 billion to provincial revenues,” the news release noted.
The province signed an economic and community development agreement with the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations to share mineral tax revenue in 2020. Prior to that, an impact benefits agreement was signed in 2019 with the mine’s owners and the Lhoosk’uz Dené and Ulkatcho First Nations for the Blackwater Project.
Since acquiring the project in 2020, Artemis has continued to develop relationships with Indigenous partners, notably by signing an impact benefits agreement with the Nazko First Nation in May 2021 and ongoing negotiations with the Carrier Sekani First Nations on an impact benefits agreement.
Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation Chief Liliane Squinas said they are excited about the available employment, economic and business opportunities the Blackwater Gold Project offers.
Chief Lynda Price of the Ulkatcho First Nation (UFN) said that while UFN is in favor of the mine due to its economic benefits, as the traditional stewards of their land, their top priority is the environment.
“We look forward to working through the full permitting of the mine to ensure that the impacts to our Nation are properly mitigated so that all wildlife species, such as caribou, are protected, as they are so vital to our culture,” Price said in a news release.
“This project has a large number of conditions attached to its environmental assessment certificate. We will be sure that these are fully met through the permitting process.”