SMG begins review process

The Spanish Mountain Gold mine project near Likely is just now beginning the provincial and federal environmental assessment process.

The Spanish Mountain Gold mine project near Likely is just now beginning the provincial and federal environmental assessment process.

That was just one of the messages brought by company representatives to the Gibraltar Room Tuesday evening during a public information meeting on the project.

The company says it anticipates within the next month the provincial government will order an environmental assessment.

Chris Brodie, manager of environmental studies with Knight Piesold Consulting, a company working with SMG, says that will trigger an environmental assessment review at the federal level as there is harmonization between the two processes.

“Where an environmental assessment is triggered for both they (the two levels of government) will try to combine their processes and wherever possible one document will suffice for both levels of review, open house and public and First Nations consultation. Those will be done to accommodate both levels of government so they don’t have to be done twice,” Brodie says.

The company anticipates its project will be subject to a comprehensive review process at the federal level. That includes enhanced consultation beyond the first level of review, a screening review.

“We’ve not got that in writing but it’s absolutely the assumption,” Brodie says. “It’s highly likely.”

The community consultation the company is currently undertaking is not part of a mandated assessment, rather an attempt to inform the impacted communities, company representatives told the 20 community members who had gathered to hear the presentation.

The environment assessment process will offer additional opportunities for public input into the project.

The gold mine is anticipated to be operational by January 2014. SMG expects the mine could produce more than 200,000 ounces of gold per year with a mine life of 10 years.

The company concluded a preliminary economic assessment in December 2010 and has completed 600 drill holes on the property. It expects to outlay $240 million in capital expenditures throughout the 18 months the mine is being built.

In the construction phase, that could begin in 2013, approximately 600 temporary jobs might be created and when operational the mine could create approximately 284 jobs.

The company and the Williams Lake Indian Band have signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the First Nations involvement in all aspects of the mine’s development. Spanish Mountain Gold says an MOU with Xat’sull First Nation remains outstanding; however, it is hopeful one will be reached.

The company has four exploration properties —- two near Prince George and one near 100 Mile House.