Sona Resources’ Blackdome and Elizabeth gold projects south of Williams Lake are expected to be in operation by the third quarter of 2013.
In the meantime, the company is completing exploration and development work at Elizabeth, creating new tunnels, working on underground drilling, surface drilling, resource development, and further upgrading Elizabeth’s camp, says Sona executive chairman Nick Ferris.
The company is also installing a new camp and refurbishing the mill at Blackdome.
“Elizabeth has never been operated, but Blackdome is a past producer and is fully permitted,” Ferris says.
At its peak, Blackdome had more than 200 employees and produced about a quarter million ounces of gold at a grade averaging at 20 grams of gold per tonne of ore between 1986 and 1990.
Blackdome was briefly put into production for a six-month period between 1998 and 1999 and has been on care and maintenance ever since.
Ore produced at Elizabeth will be trucked to Blackdome for processing, and production will be done in two stages.
“We’ll start off at 200 tonnes a day, and if we can find adequate resources, we’ll take it to 300 tonnes a day,” Ferris says. “That means we’ll have to find more ore at Blackdome.”
The two mines combined are expected to create between 150-200 staff jobs.
Elizabeth is located about 120 kilometres south-southwest of Williams Lake, and Blackdome is located about 90 kilometres south-southwest of Williams Lake.
Ferris says the company is working to engage First Nations communities, and already has a First Nation’s partner, the development corporation from the Canoe Creek Indian Band.
He says the company is visiting area First Nations communities to explain the details of the operations and is in the process of recruiting potential employees.
“People are just showing up at our door, wanting to get involved, and we want to have as much local participation as we can have,” he says.
Both Blackdome and Elizabeth have a tiny environmental footprint, Ferris says, since there are no negative water issues because the rock doesn’t generate any acid as water drains through it.
“Unless you knew where the mine is, you probably wouldn’t see it because it’s underground,” he adds.
Mostly gold will be mined at Blackdome and Elizabeth, but some silver will be mined at Blackdome.
Sona, formerly J-Pacific Gold, is a Vancouver-based company engaged in the development and exploration of gold prospects in North America.