Plans for a gold mine near Wells, in B.C.’s Cariboo region, took a significant step forward with the granting of an environmental assessment certificate.
Environment Minister George Heyman and Mines Minister Josie Osborne said in a statement Tuesday that it has given approval for Osisko Development Corp. to build and operate the underground Cariboo Gold mine, east of Quesnel, provided the project receives all its required permits.
The certificate comes with 22 conditions, including establishing a new drinking water supply for Wells, minimizing impacts to the Barkerville woodland caribou herd, noise requirements and hiring 75 per cent of workers from the region, if possible.
When completed, the mine is expected to produce about 25 million tonnes of ore over 16 years and employ 500 workers during its operation and up to 300 during construction.
The mine is the first to be assessed from start to finish under the province’s 2018 Environmental Assessment Act which created a new process that includes more participation from First Nations
In a document laying out their reasons for making the decision, the ministers say Lhtako Dene Nation and Williams Lake First Nation provided notices of consent, and Xatull First Nation said they do not oppose the project but consider consent an “ongoing process.”
The ministers say the benefits of the project outweigh the costs, and it is in the public interest.
Granting of the certificate comes after a nearly three-year review led by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office.
The ministers say the conditions on the certificate give them the “confidence to conclude that Cariboo Gold will be carried out such that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur.”
The government says construction costs are expected to contribute an estimated at $588 million to the economy over four years, and the operations another $466 million.
A 200-person work camp will be built at the project site, which is about the current size of the community of Wells.