Kathie LaForge communications manager for New Gold provided an update to Village of Burns Lake council on the company’s Blackwater Gold project, located approximately 110 kilometres Southwest of Vanderhoof.
The proposed mine crosses the traditional territory of local First Nation Skin Tyee as well as Kluskus First Nation in Quesnel and Williams Lake First Nation.
Construction of the mine is expected to begin during 2015 and production is expected to be underway in 2017, however LaForge said the project is still subject to a comprehensive environment assessment process that will be underway later this year.
Exploratory drilling on the property is set to continue through 2012 and LaForge said she thinks it is one of the largest drilling operations in Canada. “We have 17 drill rigs on site and the camp holds 230 people and it has been full most of the time, between employees and contractors,” she said.
The estimated mine life will start at approximately 15 years but LaForge said it will likely be adjusted throughout its life, depending on resources and further exploration.
The company is projecting that there will be up to 250 people needed to work at the mine once it is operational, including employees and contractors.
“The mine is two and a half hours out of Vanderhoof so we have a camp established. It is not realistic shuttle people to and from the mine every day form Vanderhoof, so we are looking at creating shift schedules that will be attractive to employees.”
She said the supply of labour in the North is shrinking and she expects that by the time the mine is operational labour will be at a premium. “This is something that we are concerned about. It’s a global concern and we don’t have all the answers,” she said, adding that industry led training for employees is one of the things the company is looking at to attract employees from the region.
Council asked if there will be a company shuttle bus available from Burns Lake if residents are to be employed at the mine when it opens?
“This is what we are doing from Quesnel right now. Richfield, the former owner of the property is based in Quesnel and we have a number of employees from Richfield that are now working for New Gold in the exploration process … so it’s a possibility, but I have to caution that a shuttle bus from Burns Lake would be dictated by the number of mine employees that will be from Burns Lake and the economy,” La Forge added.
As far as any future property taxes that would benefit the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako LaForge said, “The property sits in the Cariboo Regional District, so the taxes will go to them, but I expect their will be some discussions between the Cariboo Regional District and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako surrounding land use and taxation.”