A section of the map from the proposed Spanish Mountain Gold Project near Likely, B.C. from the initial project description released on March 15, 2022. (SMG image)

A section of the map from the proposed Spanish Mountain Gold Project near Likely, B.C. from the initial project description released on March 15, 2022. (SMG image)

Spanish Mountain Gold Project northeast of Williams Lake restarts engagement process

Proposed gold mine moves forward again with proposed open pit gold project near Likely

Spanish Mountain Gold Project, a proposed gold mine near Likely, B.C., has released an initial project description (IPD).

Located about 70 km northeast of Williams Lake, the project is being developed by Spanish Mountain Gold Ltd. (SMG) and proposes an open pit gold mine with an estimated production of about 96 million tonnes of ore over a mine life of 14 years.

An estimated 20,000 tonnes of ore would be produced per day and the mine would be projected to produce 2.1 million ounces of gold and 0.9 million ounces of silver over the mine life.

The project would be expected to employ about 360 people and would include a temporary 265-person camp during construction and a permanent 50-person camp for onsite accommodation of staff for the life of the mine.

The tailings storage would be constructed using two dams between existing topography using waste rock and the ore will be processed in a plant using gravity flotation then leaching using cyanide to collect the gold and silver. Gold and silver ore bars will be produced and shipped from the site weekly.

IPD includes some details about the water use on the site, including using a water management pond and two groundwater wells to service the operation.

Construction of the project would include shipping materials over a two-year period by road.

Access to the project will be via an access road which will tie into the Spanish Lake Road, west of Hepburn Lake. The Spanish Lake Road would be re-routed west of the project to avoid the mine area, shifting a 5.4 km section of the road north around the project.

Water management for the project indicates run off diverted around the tailings facility will be directed to Cedar Creek for the west side of the project and some will go into Boswell Lake and then be pumped into Cedar Creek during initial operations. After year 10, a diversion channel is planned which would then redirect the Boswell Lake catchment runoff into Winkley Creek. Excess water from the mining process when active mining is underway will be treated and then discharged into Cedar Creek and once the mine is in active closure after 2040, mine effluent would transition to passive treatment.

The document was released March 15, 2022 and will now allow for input from First Nations, the public and government as part of the regulatory approval process.

The mine qualifies for provincial review under the BC Environmental Assessment Act and federal review under the Impact Assessment Act.

SMG said they will make a request to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change to approve the substitution of the BC Environmental Assessment process for the federal one, so only one report will be required. The Province would have to commit to meeting the legislative requirements of the federal Impact Assessment process.

An environmental review was initiated in 2011, but was halted in 2012 while project design updates took place, but the review was kept open until new legislation was going to come into effect. The project was withdrawn from the environmental review process in 2019.

During the review process, regulators, agencies, First Nations and the public will be able to make comment.

The project is about six kilometres northeast of Likely, near Quesnel Lake. The area of disturbance would be estimated to be about 27 km² for the mine and associated facilities as well as approximately 37 km² for the impact of a transmission line, which the IPD reports as being primarily along an existing road and power corridor.

The project is within the traditional territories of the Williams Lake First Nation, Xatśūll First Nation and the Lhtako Dene Nation. The point of interconnection of the power line at McLeese Lake is within the asserted traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

The Cariboo-Chilcotin Métis Association, asserts harvesting and hunting right in the region. The project itself is located on provincial Crown land.

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